If you're a student preparing to kick start university life away from home, you might want to check out these valuable tips that will make the transition that little bit easier.
Millions of students are gearing up to begin a new life studying at higher education level. For the majority, it will be their first experience living on their own and entering the first stage of adulthood. Flat shares, bills and insurance worries shouldn't be a huge stress if planned correctly.
In the first of a series of articles, The Drama Student has teamed up with confused.com to tackle these very issues to make student life that little bit easier.
>> Students are more than twice as likely to become victims of burglary so having the right cover for possessions is crucial. Many insurers specialise in insurance for students, which can even include cover for lost keys and library books.
>> Don't assume possessions can be included on a parents' policy. Separate policies should be bought which reflect the amount of contents being taken to university. Even if the student is covered in their parents' policy, it is often not to the same level of cover as a separate policy would be.
>> £2,000 worth of contents may seem realistic for a student's possessions but once an iPod (with all the music downloaded onto it), clothes, laptop, TV, DVD player, stereo are added £5000 could be the closer figure.
>> Items ‘Away from Home' as an insurance option could be useful for students who might carry a laptop, mobile, cash and iPods on them as they walk to and from campus. Catering for every eventuality is better than being out of pocket when it's least needed
>> As with all insurance policies, the lower the risk, the lower the premium. Efforts should be made to limit the risk therefore reducing premiums. For home insurance, consider window locks, alarm systems, and locks on bedroom doors.
>> A classic mistake many students make when they move into a new property is to stay with the previous tenant's supplier. Students need to read the meter as soon as possible, and investigate the previous occupier's energy supplier. Unless that supplier is offering the best deal, students should change to a better tariff, or even change supplier altogether.
>> If the property is going to be empty until September, consider switching to a tariff which has no standing charge; if there’ll be no usage until the beginning of term, why pay?
>> A sustained effort should be made to read the meter every time a bill comes in, to ensure bills are based on actual usage, rather than estimates, which can be pricier.
>> Arguments about bills are common-place in student housing but students should try, where possible, to pay by Direct Debit. Some providers offer up to 10% discount to customers.
>> The easiest way to save money on energy bills is to reduce energy consumption. Not leaving appliances on standby, only filling the kettle with the amount that's actually needed and taking a shower rather than a bath can help with this.
Students currently face leaving University with an average of over £17,500* of debt so trying to minimise this is essential.
Putting together a budget is a sensible idea. Putting a plan that can be stuck to, will help minimise the amount of debt that builds up. Receipt of the student loan can seem like a lot of money, but it has to last a whole term. There is a useful budget calculator on the UCAS website. http://www.ucas.com/students/studentfinance/budget_calculator
>> Finding the right bank account is crucial. Students shouldn't be swayed just by the freebies – check out all the features such as the level of interest free overdraft, whether there are any other hidden fees and what access there is, i.e. via the internet or telephone.
>> Try to avoid credit cards and store cards as these are a really expensive way to borrow money. Even those who've never had any debt before will still have a poor credit rating as there is nothing to judge them by, so the only cards that are likely to be available, are those with high interest rates. They can be a downward spiral into prolonged and expensive debt.
>> For students that do get into financial difficulty, shouldn't just ignore it, as this will make the problem worse. Try to cut back where possible and seek confidential advice from:
Citizens Advice Bureau
>> Identity Fraud is becoming more prolific nowadays, so all personal details should be kept safely, and shredded when finished with. Bank and credit card statements should be checked thoroughly.
To compare prices from various suppliers visit www.confused.com