As students desperately cram in prep for end-of-year exams, something that probably wouldn’t have crossed their minds is their finances.
It’s all too easy to lose track of spending during this period of the year, so whether you’re in your final year planning the next step of your life, or you are planning on returning to campus in September, here are some simple ways to ensure your finances are in check, just as summer kicks in:
1) Decide on destinations for travelling
Do your research on some of the most reasonable places to travel to, as well as how to visit some of the more expensive locations on a tight budget.
For example, before the school holidays begin, some Airbnbs will be offering heavily discounted rates during weekdays, particularly if they’re located less centrally or just outside of the specific town or city you’re looking to visit. Similarly, many hostels offer private rooms, and are just as comfortable and luxurious as some hotels for a fraction of the price.
2) Book flights
Once you’ve finalised travel plans, don’t wait around to book last minute flights - this won’t guarantee you the cheapest rate. Head over to Skyscanner to discover which airlines are offering the best fares. If you’re on a budget, consider choosing flight paths that include stopovers along the way; it may take a little more time to reach your destination, but you could end up saving hundreds of pounds by opting for this frugal option. Plus, you get to see another part of the world.
3) Decide on accommodation for next year
Before you start your summer plans, ensure you’ve found housemates you get along well with, and a property to live in for next year. Landlords in university towns often find new tenants through word-of-mouth and recommendations of previous lodgers, so if you know of any friends graduating this year who live in well-decorated and modestly priced houses, be sure to ask them to put you in touch with the landlords to discuss living arrangement for 2016/17.
4) Secure a summer job
Before moving back home, get one step ahead of the competition by searching online for any well-paid summer jobs within your local areas and see if they’re willing to interview you over the phone or via Skype. Imagine how impressed your parents will be when you arrive home from university with summer employment already secured.
5) Consider savings
Of course after a long year of studying, you deserve a break and to enjoy the summer thoroughly, but try to set yourself up with a little savings plan to ensure you’re financially, as well as mentally, prepared to head back to university. Set yourself a weekly budget and aim to save a percentage of your earnings over the summer for use when you return in the autumn, this way you won’t blow everything at a festival or whilst on holiday.
6) Consider selling university items online
Take a look online at such sites as eBay, Gumtree, MusicMagpie and WeBuyBooks to see what items similar to the ones you no longer need are being sold for. This will give you an idea of how much extra money you could have in your pocket to get your summer off to a great start.
7) Look into cheap/free local activities back home
Upon arriving back home, be sure to check out the local ‘What’s On’ guide for your nearest big town or city and there’ll no doubt be an endless list of reasonably cheap, or even free, activities you can participate in on a tight budget. Some of them might even be more fun than spending all day in the local beer garden, believe it or not.
You could also consider organising a picnic with your old school friends, who probably also need to stick to a budget. Ask everyone to bring a particular item of food, drink, or utensil - and let the good times roll.
8) Plan for next semester’s classes
If you already have particular modules picked out, or modules that are mandatory for your course, be sure to see if there are any second-hand textbooks vital for your course being sold anywhere. Similarly, if you’re studying for a creative degree that requires specific equipment, look into the best ways to pick them up for a discounted rate. It’s a sure-fire way to beat the mad rush to find them come autumn when many online and high-street stores will raise prices to keep up with demand.
9) Pay off any debt
This could be the money you borrowed from a classmate for that dress you needed a few months back for a night out, or the bar tab that you’ve racked up at your students’ union bar.
Similarly, if you rely on a credit card to keep you going after your student loan instalments dry out, also make sure you’ve paid off any outstanding bills on your account. You might not want to admit it to yourself, but that monthly interest being added on top of your existing borrowed amount is only pushing you further away from being debt-free.
10) Shop around for new bank account
You’ll no doubt have seen the endless TV, radio, and online adverts offering customers the chance to switch their bank accounts in order to secure a lump sum amount. Shop around for the best deal for you, and you could earn as much as £150 for pretty much no effort or work.
11) Freeze unnecessary direct debits/standing orders
If you have a gym or sports club membership, or a cinema card for a brand that doesn’t have a venue in your hometown, be sure to cancel or freeze the direct debits or standing orders associated with the costs. It can be all too easy to forget to do so in the panic of moving back home, but you’ll no doubt find more important things to spend the money on back home.
Dan Hawkins is a financial expert at Lottoland
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