Helping your child manage financial stress while studying
Is your child thinking about or just starting higher education? If so, you may be wondering how they will cope financially. We’ve compiled a list of handy hints for parents so you can help your son or daughter budget wisely while studying.
Our top tips
1. Encourage financial independence
It’s never too late to help your son or daughter to understand how to manage their own money. One way to help them become more financially independent is to empower them with all the right tools. From setting up a current account and savings account, to showing them how to pay bills online, and arrange direct debits or standing orders, knowledge is power.
If they are still at home and you’ve asked them to make a contribution towards living expenses, you could consider asking them to put in place a standing order for their board and lodgings, rather than handing you cash each month. This should help familiarise them with the process of paying regular bills, and having enough in the bank to cover them.
2. Build a budget together
According to savethestudent.org, the average student faces a significant shortfall in funding each month, with maintenance loans only covering a fraction of their monthly living costs. One way to help your child keep on top of their finances throughout the academic year is to work out a detailed budget together that they can aim to stick to.
This means adding up what money they have available to spend on a weekly basis, such as loans, grants, or income from a job, and then calculating their costs of living. UCAS provide advice and support on how to pay for their studies. There are many free online tools that can help on day to day expenses, including the Lloyds Bank’s budget calculator.
Of course it’s important to prioritise necessities such as rent and food, but the budget will also need to cover everything from books to travel and nights out. It might be useful to suggest putting a weekly cap on some non-essential spending, such as takeaways, in order to encourage good financial habits. There’s plenty of inspiration online for shopping cheaply and budget-friendly recipes.
Keeping an eye on spending throughout the week is also a great tip as this will help them to stay on track. There are a number of free budgeting apps available for smartphones, and some banks also offer online and mobile banking, balance alerts and money management tools.
3. Research student bank accounts
Before they head off to higher education, encourage your son or daughter to research the different student bank accounts on offer – they will need one for any loans or grants.
Most high-street banks offer student current accounts, but each comes with a range of offers – from an interest free overdraft to cash back deals – with varying terms and conditions. Some banks also offer student credit cards that may be suitable for short-term borrowing to help cover unexpected costs.
By shopping around, they should be able to find the account that best suits their needs.
4. Talk about debt
From tuition fee loans to overdrafts, for many students, debt is an unavoidable part of higher education. However, it doesn’t mean that it has to be stressful.
Openly discussing debt with your child – and the difference between controlled and unmanageable debts – is a good place to start. That way, if your child overspends or gets into financial difficulty, they will hopefully feel more comfortable talking to you about it, rather than trying to cope on their own.
If you are worried that your son or daughter is finding it difficult to make ends meet while studying, try to explain the pitfalls of taking on further debt – in particular high interest loans. Instead, encourage them to apply for grants or bursaries or find a part-time job to boost their income.
5. Think about ways to save
Another great way to help your child stay on top of their finances whilst in higher education is to help them look for savings opportunities. From buying second-hand books to downloading voucher codes and getting NUS discounts, there are many different ways students can save money on their purchases.
Sharing accommodation and cooking meals together with other students can also cut down the bills. Why not try getting your child into the habit of planning, budgeting for, and preparing a shared meal once a week?
As tough as living on a student budget may be, opening a savings account could help your child continue to work towards their future goals whilst studying. Putting away just £5 a week – no more than the cost of a coffee and a cake – would mean that after a two-year course, they’ll have £520 to put towards the next chapter in their life.
Your next steps
More budgeting tips
When you’re helping your child budget for higher education, remember that there are some things that students don’t need to pay for. For example:
- Council tax (students houses are exempt)
- Medical prescriptions on the NHS (free for students aged 16-18)
There are also a number of discount schemes that it may be worth taking advantage of, such as:
- NUS Extra card – for a small monthly charge, students can get discounts on everything from coach travel to eating out.
- 16-25 Railcard – for a small annual charge, students can save 1/3 on off peak rail fares. If your child has an NUS Extra card, they’ll also be able to get a discount on the price of the 16-25 Railcard.
- Preparing your child for this exciting stage in their life might also be a good time for a free personal financial review, to help them find out about ways to save money or earn more interest by re-organising their finances. Contact your local Lloyds branch for more information.
Find out more
Visit UCAS for information on preparing your son or daughter for managing their student budget.
Learn about helping your child deal with student debt by visiting Step Change.
Discover additional top budgeting tips from Lloyds Bank to help them manage their student lifestyle.
Find hints on how students can save and make money at Save The Student.
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