7 money-saving tips for students heading off to uni

Many students will be preparing to head off to start university in the coming weeks. Picture: Getty

Many students will be preparing to head off to start university in the coming weeks. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Heading off to university can be a nerve-racking time for students and their parents - but there are simple tips to follow to stay safe and save money, writes James Walker of Resolver.co.uk.

Across the land, anxious parents are getting ready to drop off young people at universities far from home, looking nervously at the big cities and tiny student accommodation.

Today's students face tons of challenges that their parent's generation didn't. Not for them the life of two hours of lectures a week getting in the way of non-stop drinking and partying.

Modern students face huge student loans, expensive housing and costs and a challenging job market when it's all over.

It's really important that students get a fair deal. So here are a few tips for first-time students (and anxious parents).

• Use your student powers for free stuff. Get the NUS card and railcard – you'll save a packet. There are loads of online sites for students offering tons of discounts, but watch out for non-uni affiliated Facebook groups.

• When you move in with mates, make sure you're all listed on the contract and bills. You're fully liable for the entire bill even if your friends move out and dodge the electricity bill – so make sure everyone coughs up each month. Go digital for the bills if you can.

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• Don't get tempted by flashy giveaways with bank accounts. Go for the biggest free overdraft you can find. And don't spend up to the limit! Check to find out what happens when you graduate – the interest rates can change.

• Don't ever pay money up front for anything, from viewing properties to buying a guitar online. You've got no way of getting the cash back if there's a dispute. Once you have an agreement, pay by debit or credit card if you can.

• Do a few safety checks. Make sure you have a working smoke alarm and a serviced boiler. A carbon monoxide detector, anti-mould spray and a cheap dehumidifier could also be handy.

• Don't overshare on social media. Too many details, such as your date of birth or first school, could be used to identify you. Beware social network quizzes which will mine your data and sell it on.

• Don't panic if you get into money difficulties. There's loads of help out there. Check out the National Association of Student Money Advisers (NASMA) who provide free, confidential advice.

The important thing is to admit it as soon as you need help and not panic and take out a payday loan that offers a short-term, high-interest way in too much deeper debt. Don't be so hard on yourself. You won't be the first student to get in to debt – and there are loads of solutions.

James Walker is the founder of Resolver.co.uk