NSMW16 - The University expenses to prepare for
So moving to Uni is a huge change and finance is something that worries many students, but fear not, just keep reading...
I know it can be a bit scary, but find out how much you are entitled to through student finance. It’s a lengthy process, however the sooner you get it sorted the better! Also check whether you are entitled to any grants or bursaries offered by the university, then you can start financial planning.
Ensure that you open up a student bank account, as these offer great perks. Santander offers a free 4 year railcard and a nice overdraft limit of £1500 with no charge (in case of emergencies such as your student finance coming through late which is not an uncommon problem).
The largest expense is, without a doubt, accommodation. Ensure you look at the different options available. Most students stay in halls, which is slightly more expensive, but good for getting to know your fellow comrades. However, often there are usually many accommodation providers. For me, it was a case of a short walk in a morning in order to save a lot of money! Are there things you can do without? E.g. do you really need the luxury of en-suite? Could you travel in using the bus?
In addition, there is usually a deposit of around £200 that needs to be paid up front, so make sure you set aside enough to cover it.
Check what is included in your rent such as bills, internet/Wi-Fi, appliances and so on. I didn't realise the amount of stuff you need to bring with you! Everything from knives and forks to a kettle to a bathmat! Make a list of everything you need to bring and begin to buy things early so that you can spread the cost, because all these little things soon add up!
With the money you have left it is so, so vital that you budget- figure out how much you have to spend each week. Bear in mind you will probably spend less whilst you are at home if you pop back for reading weeks or the holidays. When you do head back home, be organised and book your tickets in advance. Is it cheaper to take the bus? And whatever the temptation, DO NOT BLOW ALL YOUR MONEY ON FRESHERS WEEK!
Which brings me to a crucial point, limit yourself on nights out (You'll be thankful you did in the morning, especially if the hangover isn't as bad!) It's often cheaper to have pre-drinks with your flatmates before you go out and find the price of booze in clubs is often extortionate (particularly on weekends).
Nights out can be so much cheaper if you plan ahead too. The entry fee is less if you and your friends are on the guest list and many places do special student nights like on a Monday night, where there are usually offers on drinks - just make sure you don't go into lectures too hung over the next day. If you go to the right places on the right nights you will save a lot (a busier atmosphere makes for a better night, too).
For transport, download the app Uber if you haven't already. It's great because you don't have to worry about having cash on you and the driver cannot overcharge. You know the estimated cost of the journey so you can budget for this without any nasty surprises. If you get friends to sign up you can earn fee rides. Companies like Uber will charge you a lot less than black cabs, or not pre booked. Yes, it’s more convenient to just jump in but you will be ridiculously over charged for your journey.
Food can also rack up a gigantic bill, whilst it is important you eat a balanced diet, be smart with what you buy. Bulk buy things like milk and pasta with your flat-mates and this will reduce the cost a great deal. Don't buy the same thing week on week; have a look at what's on special offer. As much as we all love a good Domino’s pizza, you can pick up an equally tantalising pizza for a couple of pounds at a supermarket. Try and keep takeaways to a minimum, rather than the norm.
Plus, home cooked meals allow you to show off your cooking skills to your parents when you visit home! Who said students don’t cook?!
Laura Abbey lives at Liberty Dock, in Leeds. She is in her first year, studying Classical cello at Leeds College of Music.