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How students can get an A* in finance

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Written by: Emma Lunn
12/08/2019
Freshers heading off to university for the first time need to swot up on financial management.

This year’s A-Level results will be announced on Thursday with those who get the required grades heading off to university next month. For most undergraduates it will be the first time they’ve had to manage their own budget and pay for things such as accommodation and bills.

Kay Ingram, director of public policy at LEBC Group, said: “Leaving home for the first time is a big step and starting out with good financial habits, planning ahead and keeping a check on spending can build a good foundation for a sound financial future. That is why we think it so important for students to be equipped with guidance on financial matters which will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.”

Student accommodation

Many first-year students prefer to stay in a hall of residence, as this is a good way to meet other students. Those students with conditional offers should check they have a guaranteed place in a hall at the university of their choice, as some don’t confirm this until the results are out.

Those who don’t get the grades to secure their first-choice place should prioritise confirming accommodation with their second and third choice colleges.

Bear in mind that not everyone will get a place in halls. This leaves the student with the dilemma of deferring entry for a year or venturing into the private rented sector. Average rents vary, and according to Hamptons International, cost on average £262 per month in Britain and £579 per month in London for a share of a three-bed home.

As students typically have no income of their own, most landlords require parents to guarantee the rent. Parents acting as guarantors need to ensure that the agreement leaves them liable only for their own child’s rent, and not on a joint and several basis for their housemates.

Household bills

Students sharing private accommodation need to agree how the household bills will be paid.

Utility providers usually require one of the residents to take responsibility for the whole bill.  However, this doesn’t need to be the same person for each utility, and sharing the responsibility is a good way to make sure everyone honours their commitments.

It’s important that students understand that any unpaid or late paid bills could affect their credit rating, and this could affect their ability to borrow money later on.

Budgeting

For many young people this will be the first time they have been responsible for their own bills, buying food and paying for travel.

Students taking out a maintenance loan will receive an instalment of their loan at the beginning of each term, so they will need to budget to make the money last.

Budget apps which enable students to plan and categorise their expenditure and receive alerts when funds are running low can save costly overdraft and credit card debt mounting.

Insurance

A typical student room contains possessions worth £3,259, with tech equipment and gadgets alone adding up to more than £1,750 on average, according to Aviva Insurance.

This represents an increase of 49 per cent across student belongings over the past two years, with technology – laptop, phone, tablet, TV and music equipment – primarily accounting for this increase. A similar Aviva study carried out in 2017 found the contents of a typical student room were worth £2,184.

However, in spite of this increase, the survey discovered 27 per cent of students didn’t have cover for their belongings while studying. Based on the value of a typical student room, and the fact there are about 632,000 UK students, this equates to uninsured items worth more than £2bn across the UK.

Adam Beckett, product director for Aviva UK General Insurance, said: “Tech is very much part and parcel of student life, but this often means that thousands of pounds worth of belongings are packed into one room. If these items aren’t insured and the worst happens, this can be a huge ordeal – both emotionally and financially.

“The good news is that many insurers – including Aviva – provide student cover under the main family home insurance policy. In fact, our survey found that a quarter of students had cover under family home insurance, so they didn’t need to take out additional cover. Going to university is a big move for both students and parents, so having insurance in place is one less thing to worry about.”

 

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