Finance tips for students
Almost half of all young people in the UK leaving school go on to higher education. With all the excitement that comes with it, budgeting is often not a top priority. But a budget will not only help them have a better time (as they won’t need to worry about money) but also teach them valuable life skills that will carry on paying dividends long after they’ve left university.
To help, why not check out our top ideas below:
Create a student budget
Students need to know what money is coming in, what money is going out and how to budget the remainder. Sounds simple? Straightforward, yes, but if you’ve never had to create a budget before, it can be far from simple. A survey of 5,000 undergraduates in July found that 40% of them underestimated their living costs.
A great place to start to get an understanding of what their living costs could be is The Student Budget Calculator from Which, as it includes average living costs by university – invaluable to budget for the year ahead.
Plan meals and make shopping lists
If they’ve never had to shop for themselves before, it can be tempting to buy too much food, which is then wasted, or too little which then leaves them reliant on eating out or junk food to tide them over – which is not good for their diet or their budget! That’s why planning for meals at the start of the week is a great idea. This will also save time as shopping will be a once or twice a week activity, rather than a daily pop to the shops.
Always best to have a shopping list and never to shop hungry, as in both cases they’ll likely buy more than they need – which may be more than they can afford. It’s a good idea to head to a lower cost supermarket, or at least the supermarket’s ‘value’ aisles. Free apps can help your children budget here – for example, mySuperList adds up the cost of the shopping list, what cashback is available, and where the cheapest place to buy is – across 15 high street supermarkets. It even shows the offers each supermarket has, making it easier to shop for those important bargains.
Learn to cook
Cooking can sound like hard work, but simple, nutritious food can be cooked simply, and cheaply. Knowing the basics, such as chopping, simmering, boiling, frying and roasting can always help. This may be an invaluable skill as a survey of 1,000 British and Irish Muslim university students found that 35% of universities in the UK and Ireland do not offer hot halal food.
There are great recipe sharing community websites that put 1,000s of halal recipes at your child’s fingertips – including step by step methods and the ability to search by ingredient.
If they have the space to refrigerate or ideally freeze food, cooling in bulk is also a great idea. They can then create their own ‘fast food’ as it will just require heating before eating – perfect after a long day of studying, and very beneficial to their finances too.
Protect their belongings
A recent M&S poll of 2,000 students found that the average student has around £1,650 worth of possessions in their room, including clothes, laptops and tablets.
If they’re living in Halls of Residence, they may be covered already as universities often negotiate group insurance for this type of accommodation – best to check. Also, check your own home insurance cover as it may be cheaper for them to add themselves to your policy.
Get your child to register their belongings on the UK’s National Property Register, which helps police identify the owners of recovered property thousands of times every day. If the worst happens and their property is stolen, they’ll be glad they did.
Claim student discounts
It is surprising how many companies do special deals for students. To help make sense of it, there are student discount websites, such as student beans which even shows local discounts.
Of course, it’s important to know that a discount is only a discount if it was something they were going to buy already. Otherwise it is just an additional expense that they’re unlikely to have budgeted for.