Chances are you’re already on your way towards smashing your degree with flying colours. However, learning how to handle your money is a critical skill that you’ll need to know as a student.
Whether you squirrel your precious cash away inside your mattress ‘gangsta’ style or embrace the new age with the wealth of money-saving apps available for your phone, your ability to save the pennies can dictate the trajectory of your career and personal life. With that in mind, here’s an essential how-to guide on keeping those finances in check!
CHOOSE THE RIGHT BANK ACCOUNT
Starting a student bank account is a great first move on the path to financial stability, and there are some great perks to opening one once results-day has been and gone. Interest-free overdrafts, cashback on direct debits and household bills, student credit cards, and public transport discounts are all perks with which banks like to tempt you. But be wary of the small print! You may have to adhere to specific terms to take advantage of these, such as paying in a minimum amount each month. If you exceed your overdraft allowance, be prepared to pay extra fees. Comparison websites such as Money Supermarket, Compare The Market and Go Compare can help you find the correct account but bear in mind that first-year students aren’t usually eligible for such attractive overdraft offers.
KEEP ON TOP OF YOUR FINANCES
Any graduate will know that it’s all too easy to stick your head in the sand and let bills pile up.
The fact is, if you don’t deal with them early on, sooner or later, those bills are going to come back to bite you.
If you’re in shared accommodation, be sure to keep utility bills in a designated place where all housemates can see them (a magnet on the front of the fridge works wonders here!).
Arrange a morning/evening in your weekly schedule where you sit down and assess your outgoings. You’ll be amazed at how your bank balance will benefit from a little TLC.
MAKE A BUDGET
Sounds obvious enough, right? But it’s so easy to fall down in this area. Everyone has different ways of managing their cash each month. It’s just a matter of trial and error until you discover what works best for you.
A good technique is to set aside money in your current account to cover rent, bills, food, etc each month. Then withdraw your expendable cash for that month. So long as you can stick to the ‘once it’s gone, it’s gone’ mindset, you’ll find this technique works well.
PAY RENT AND BILLS ON TIME EVERY MONTH
Bear in mind that if you fail to pay bills and standing orders on time, it can directly affect your credit score. This may not be something that’s on your radar right now, but it can lead to problems in future when applying for credit to finance musical equipment, a car purchase, or secure a mortgage on your first property. Setting automated reminders on your phone can help hugely in this area.
Communal meals in a shared house aren’t just a good excuse to be social. They also save time on washing up and are an incredibly efficient way of keeping your grocery costs down. The key is discovering cheap recipes that satisfy your appetite whilst not neglecting your health. Eating nothing but instant noodles and toasties will quickly lead to feeling run down and sluggish. So remember to get those greens in. There are some absolute classic dishes (plus a few surprises) on Studentrecipes.com for you to get your teeth into and save money! Here’s a great book as well, with each recipe portion costing just £1!
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE TECH
There are loads of apps available these days, which can help you stay organised with your studies and home life.
Unihouse is a fantastic app that allows your whole house to keep track of who spent what and who owes who. It even delegates chores and sets you up with handy revision reminders! There are tons of other apps available for a host of uses. Have a look at the app store and start getting organised.
FIND WORK EARLY
Don’t wait until your bank balance is approaching zero before heading out to look for paid work. If you’re going to get a part-time job, the best time to find one is at the start of your first term when they’re most available.
Alternatively, if you’re studying one of BIMM’s performance courses, you may want to consider getting involved in the Commercial Performance programme. This partnership with the Alive Network allows students to earn money through live music performances alongside their studies. Simply create your profile, hook up with other band members and start earning!
GET SOME FREE STUFF!
Everyone likes something for nothing, right? Websites such as Freecycle can help you save money on things like furniture, clothes, mobile phones, bicycles, stationary, books, equipment, accessories – the list goes on! Simply log-on, type in your area code and see who’s giving away perfectly usable stuff completely free of charge!
Common sense applies here, people. Don’t agree to meet a stranger without at least letting others know where you’re going.
USE YOUR SUPPORT TEAMS
Every BIMM campus has a dedicated support team whose job is to make sure your student experience is as enjoyable and productive as possible. If you’re experiencing money troubles (or any other issues, for that matter), be sure to take advantage of this precious resource for confidential advice.