Being a student is all about freedom. University or college is seen as the first step on the road to adulthood, where you take charge of your own life. That means you can study when you want, go out when you want and, more importantly, spend money on stuff you want to spend it on. The ball is in your court, and that sudden rush of power can go to peoples’ heads!
Inexperience and responsibility are legendarily bad bedfellows. Alongside this newfound freedom, you’re also learning how to get the most out of things. This can take time, and while you’re mastering the art of money handling the pitfalls along the way are many. Wouldn’t it be great if there were some kind of short guide that pointed out the worst decisions students make when it comes to their bank balance…?
Oh wait! There is, right here. Read on for details of the main areas to avoid, before you go off the edge of a financial cliff…
1. Not planning
Everything is for nothing unless you have an idea in advance about what you’re spending, week in, week out. Now we don’t want to sound like too much of a killjoy. There are going to be all sorts of opportunities to throw caution to the wind and blow a few quid on something outrageous. More often than not though, you’re going to be living on a tight budget and wondering where the next bit of income’s coming from.
Thankfully you only need to reach for your phone for a range of flexible money management apps that help you make big savings. Check out the best here.
2. Misspending loans
Student loans are a lifeline for the majority of the population, who don’t have access to stacks of money to pay their eye-watering course fees with. Of course they rarely cover the expenses they’re designed to, and earning as you learn via a part time job is a hard fact of life for many students.
It doesn’t help when the non-savvy misspend the precious loan money they do have on stuff they simply don’t need. This can vary from practical but expensive things like cars to totally out there things such as unnecessary surgery!
Tough though it is, you’ve just got to knuckle down and live within your means. In these times of austerity, having your financial head above water is vital. There’s plenty of free and independent advice online on our site alone if you struggle to balance that budget.
3. Credit cards
This is one of those things which should be a no brainer. Unfortunately it also falls under the category of “easier said than done”. For better or worse, society runs on credit, with the borrower often in a better situation than the saver where things like renting are concerned.
As with your loan, getting your hands on a piece of plastic with thousands of pounds connected to it can lead to some catastrophic behaviour. Banks are reportedly more responsible now in terms of monitoring your spending capacity, but ultimately the decision is yours. You wouldn’t rely on the moral compass of financial institutions for your future security would you? It’s your house and you’re the one who has to keep it in order. For further advice, read here.
4. Protecting personal info
Cyber security is a bigger issue than ever on today’s campuses. Installing antivirus software is only part of the puzzle. Regularly snatching your information from the air with wi-fi leads leaves you vulnerable to some clever, data-harvesting criminals. In an age where students want everything and they want it now, it’s easy to get careless and practically hand someone your financial details without realising.
Also, cyber attacks on institutions such as the NHS are becoming common and you don’t want your info in the mix when hackers strike at your uni’s intranet. Always make sure your work is backed up and regularly change your passwords. Find out more about student cyber security here.
5. Relying on cashback
This may seem like a trivial matter but cashback can become a financial drain rather than a great way of getting free money on purchases. From hidden membership fees to payments not materialising, you need to be aware that cashback is easy to find but can also be slow and in some cases misleading. Get the lowdown here.