What with it being the end of term and Christmas getting closer, you may be one of the many students across the country counting their pennies and contemplating living off baked beans until you go home for the Christmas break. There are a few things you can do during your time off to help get you started back on a good foot in the new year – QuietSphere’s finance guru, Daniel Britton shares some of his favourites. Thanks, Daniel!
What is the number one reason causing students to drop out of university? Pressure of work and deadlines? No. Missing home or Mum’s cooking? No. The most reported reason, according to an NUS study, is money or the lack thereof.
Perhaps it’s time to get back to basics with some financial ABCs.
A is for Awareness
Running out of cash can be avoided by knowing how much is coming in and going out of your bank account. Have you ever been in the supermarket checkout queue stressing over if you have enough money to pay for your groceries? Or experienced the misery of the hole in the wall refusing to issue any notes whilst on a night out with friends?
With the amount of connectivity available there is really no longer an excuse not to know how much money is in your bank account. Many banks offer text alerts when you hit an agreed limit and they will all have an app which keeps you up to date.
If you are like the majority of people, you’ll know almost to the penny, how much money is coming in, be it from a part time job, your student loan or another source. Are you equally sure how much you spend and where though?
Take five minutes to examine your bank statement line by line. Do you know exactly what all the expenses are for? Chances are there is a stray direct debit for something that you know longer need or want. Classics are gym memberships, phone insurance and free trial offers which are now costing you cash.
B is for Bargain Hunting
When businesses are launching a product on sites such as Amazon, they often give huge discounts in order to generate early sales and gain some customer reviews. This process has given rise to Amazon Review Clubs where members are sent an email with a whole range of products available at 90 – 100% discount. All you have to do in exchange is provide an honest review of the product. Some examples in the UK are Jiffyreviews and ilovetoreview.co.uk
Another sound financial idea, although perhaps not so much fun, is to shop around for your energy supplier. If you are living independently use a comparison site to look for the best priced utilities. You could save several hundred pounds over the course of a year. Check with your landlord first of course, but usually they have no problem with you switching providers.
This is doubly important if you have a pay as you go or key meter as these typically have a much higher tariff. It will be worth your while investigating if you can have a new meter installed, providing you have a trusting relationship with your housemates and won’t get stiffed with the bill at the end of the year.
C is for Cashback
Interested in generating a little extra money? Would the ability to get cashback on your purchases be of interest? Sure it adds an extra step in online shopping but taken over time you could benefit from several hundreds of pounds.
Some of the well-known sites such as Topcashback or Quidco give you money back for high street shopping too. The Quidco link offers a free £10 joining incentive just for signing up. It’s good for daily expenses and even more rewarding for larger purchases such as insurance.
Action Plan – 5 Money tips you can implement today
Money Tip 1: Download the app from your bank and use it to keep on top of your bank balance.
Money Tip 2: Find your most recent bank statement either on paper or online. Check through each item and satisfy yourself that each payment is correct and still necessary.
Money Tip 3: Sign up to an Amazon Review site and start enjoying some bargains.
Money Tip 4: Investigate your energy supplier. Can you switch and save money or get rid of your key meter and save even more?
Money Tip 5: Join a cash back site such as Quidco and use it for major purchase and everyday expenses.
Whatever the current state of your finances remember that it is a temporary situation and that help and advice is available. One thing is certain – avoiding the problem only makes it worse. Money worries can negatively impact your mental and physical health, so maybe right now is the time to take charge of your financial life.
Daniel Britton is one of the UK’s foremost authorities on Financial Education. As an award winning author and educator he combines practical experience from the financial world with an ability to make complex and dry topics, simple and fun. He is the creator of The Financial Fairy Tales series of children’s books, founder of The Personal Finance Academy and a lead partner in Wealth Builders a community of investors and financial experts.