How to be a smart student: from discount cards to rental tips, Money Mail’s top tips to help freshmen make their money go further
- Banks only offer accounts for students with incentives, including freebies
- If you’re going to college with new gadgets, make sure they’re covered
- Split household bills with apps that help you keep track of who owes what
With freshman week just around the corner, parents across the country are preparing to bid their kids goodbye as they begin a new chapter in their lives. But the lessons learned in college extend beyond the lecture hall.
Many will live far from home, buy their own food, and budget and manage their money for the very first time. Last year, the cost of living for the average student was about £795 a month, according to money advice site Save the Student.
But this year they are expected to have risen even higher. So Money Mail has put together some top tips to help students make their money go further.
Olamide Majekodunmi, 23, a graduate of the University of Birmingham, supplements her income by working as a lifeguard during the holidays, selling items on eBay and completing online surveys
Best Bank Deals
Banks only offer student accounts with incentives, including freebies and interest-free overdrafts. Santander’s 123 student account comes with a four-year 16-25 train card that cuts train travel by a third, and an interest-free overdraft of £1,500 for three years. HSBC is offering £80 cash plus a £20 Uber Eats voucher or a year of unlimited next day delivery with Asos Premier.
You must make five debit card transactions within one month of opening the account to receive the benefits. You get an interest-free overdraft of up to £1,000 in your first year, which can go up to £3,000 in the third year.
If you’re going to college with a bundle of new gadgets, make sure they’re covered against damage and theft. Before you take out home contents insurance, check your parents’ policy. Coverage for your valuables may be included as standard or available as an optional add-on for a small cost.
Also, check whether your parent’s policy covers shared accommodation off-campus, whether you must keep your belongings in your own room, and whether accidental damage is covered.
If you’re going to college with new gadgets, make sure they’re covered
If you rent privately, try to negotiate with the real estate agent. Tom Allingham of Save the Student says: ‘Before signing your lease, see if you can find a way to lower your rent in the summer when you’re not there. That could mean a shorter contract, a termination clause or a rent reduction for a few months.’
You should not be charged for registering or viewing a list of available properties. However, agents may charge for credit checks, administration and releasing your deposit – make sure you know what you’re paying. You are also expected to make a deposit, usually a month’s rent. This must be included in a deposit guarantee scheme by your landlord.
Earn $100 per month with surveys
Olamide Majekodunmi, 23, a graduate of the University of Birmingham, set a weekly budget to ensure her student loan would last each term. In her first year, she withdrew this money in cash so she could see what she had to spend, and in her second and third years, she would transfer the money to her Monzo account that had no overdraft.
Olamide, who now lives in Woodford Green, east London, supplemented her income by working as a lifeguard during the holidays, selling items on eBay and completing online surveys. She says, ‘Choose the good sites like Prolific and YouGov. I used these and made an extra £50 to £100 a month.’
She also says students helping out at Open Days would earn around £11 an hour. Olamide also suggests talking to your university about financial support. She says, “You’d be amazed at the subsidies out there. I have received a grant of £500 to set up my blog All Things Money.”
Bills made easier
Split household bills with apps like Splitwise, Acasa or Housemate, from NatWest, which help you keep track of who owes what and transfer the money directly. Be careful about setting up joint accounts with roommates who may have a bad credit history that could affect your own records and prevent you from getting a loan in the future. Tenants who pay their energy supplier directly have the right to switch to a cheaper deal. Read the meter reading when you move in to avoid having to get caught up on the last occupant’s bills.
Pay for TV
If you plan to watch or record television and stream content on BBC iPlayer, you will need a TV license of £159 per year. If you’re away from college for part of the year, you can usually claim a partial refund. If your parents are licensed, it may cover your use if you only use a device that runs on its own batteries — such as a phone or tablet — and you don’t plug it into the mains.
Avoid more debt
Buy now pay later credit schemes offered by companies such as Klarna and Clearpay allow shoppers to pay for items in installments. They are usually interest-free, but Sarah Coles, of investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown, says: ‘At worst, you could miss out on payments and end up damaging your credit rating and incurring costs. The simple rule is that you shouldn’t borrow to pay for things you don’t really need.’ Borrowing £100 for a night out from an online payday lender is also unwise. Interest rates are incredibly high and will escalate if you don’t have the money to pay off the loan. Satsuma Loans charges no less than 1,575 pc. In comparison, the interest rate on a typical credit card is 25.9 pc.
STUDENTS can get free and money with their university card. You will usually need to show proof of identification, such as your student union card, or membership of a student discount scheme such as Totum. The one-year digital card is free and offers discounts at over 300 retailers. Check out student discount sites like Save the Student (savethestudent.org) and Unidays (myunidays.com) at.