Freshers’ week season is underway around the country. If you are a new student starting out on your own for the first time, it may all seem a bit daunting. While you may be at university to study (and have some fun!), it is also probably the first time you have had to manage your own finances.
Operating on a tight budget can be tricky. But it’s not just how much money you have to spend on a night out that’s important. Let’s break down the top five money matters you need to get sorted in freshers’ week.
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1. Choose your student bank account
This may be the first current account you’ve set up for yourself. And luckily for you, lots of banks provide accounts specifically designed for students.
These bank accounts typically include some sort of interest-free overdraft. However, depending on which bank you decide to go for, you could also secure yourself some other perks.
For example, HSBC is offering an £80 cash incentive to students with its account. Or you could bag yourself a four-year 16-25 Railcard if you choose to go with Santander.
2. Check your student loan payment
The likelihood is that you’ve already applied for your student loan and it’s good to go. But it’s probably worthwhile checking:
- When your first instalment will be paid
- How much it will be
- Which bank account it will be paid into
Once you receive your first payment, it’s also a good idea to make yourself a budget for the term. That way you won’t spend it all in freshers’ week!
Writing out what you need to spend on essentials such as accommodation and food will give you a better idea of how much you can then spend on socialising and course materials.
3. Sort out your contents insurance
Brand new laptop? Latest mobile phone? Make sure that they are insured!
It may be the case that these items are covered through your parents’ home insurance policy. With some policies, items temporarily removed from the family home while you are a student are covered. But it’s best to check with your parents first. It could save any panic if you end up needing to make a claim in the future.
Alternatively, you could take out your own contents insurance policy during freshers’ week. Just make sure you include everything you want to have covered. For example, if you are taking your bike to uni, make sure you let your insurer know.
4. Apply for discount cards
As a student, you can apply for a TOTUM card (previously known as an NUS Extra card). If you want to start saving straight away, applying for one of these during freshers’ week is a good idea.
It costs £14.99 for a one-year card, £24.99 for two years and £34.99 for three years. If you get a three-year card now, TOTUM is giving you the last year for free. Making it a bargain at £24.99. The card unlocks over 200 student discounts in the UK.
You may also be interested in a 16-25 Railcard. It saves you a third off off-peak train tickets and tube fares. The card costs £30 for one year, or £70 for three years.
5. Get yourself free software
Did you know that most students with an academic email address can get Microsoft’s entire Office suite of programmes for free?
While studying may not be a priority during freshers’ week, there will come a time when you will need to reach for your laptop. So why not see if you can get yourself sorted with some free software?
You can check if you’re eligible by entering your academic email address on the Microsoft Office website.