Student life

Your tuition fees are sorted, you’ve bought everything you need for uni and maybe you’ve started on the reading… but there are other costs to consider, so you’re not quite finished yet.

The good news is that there are lots of money-saving tips and handy apps to make the cost of living as cheap – and easy to manage, as possible!

Accommodation: it’s worth deliberation

Over 20% of students live at home, which can be a great money-saving exercise.

However, if you’re planning to leave home for pastures new, you’ll be pleased to know that there should be a range of accommodation options for you to choose from.

Split your bills without splitting hairs

Managing bills for the first time can seem scary, but it needn’t be – even if these bills are going to be shared between you and your new housemates.
It’s important to make a plan together, split bills fairly and pay them on time.
Dividing up the bills is often the easiest way to manage your payments. Typically, each housemate will take responsibility for a particular bill – electricity, gas, water, etc.

Pay ’em with payM

Whether you’re splitting bills with housemates or paying your brother back for the drink he bought you last week, transferring cash doesn’t need to be complicated.

Here’s how it’s done:

  • First, you need to register with your bank or building society. 17 institutions – including Barclays, Halifax and Nationwide – are part of the PayM scheme.
  • Download the mobile banking or payment app for your current account.
  • Login as normal and head to the payment section. Select a friend’s mobile number or type in manually (no need to search for fiddly account or sort codes!).
  • Enter the amount of money that you’d like to send.
  • Check the name of the person you’re sending the money to. PayM will display this so you can be sure that your cash will end up in the right place.
  • Confirm the name and press send.
  • To receive the funds, your friends will need to be registered for PayM too.

Council tax doesn’t need to be taxing!

All residential properties in England, Wales and Scotland are subject to a tax – known as council tax – which is collected by the local authority. The money is used to fund their services (e.g. rubbish collection, recycling, roadworks, etc.).
However, if everyone in your house is a full-time student, your property will be exempt – meaning that you don’t have to pay anything. There are a few things to check, though, to make sure that you’re exempt:

  1. Your course must run for at least one academic or calendar year.
  2. Within that year, you must be required to attend the course for at least 24 weeks.
  3. Your course must involve at least 21 hours of study, tuition or work experience per week.
  4. If you’re under 20 and are studying for a qualification (up to A Level, for example), your course must run for at least three months, and must involve at least 12 hours of study per week.

Do I really need insurance?

In a word: yes!

Spending money on insurance might seem a bit excessive, but it’s a necessary cost. From smaller threats like spilled drinks to larger ones like leaks in the roof (or even a break-in), your belongings will thank you for a bit of protection.

What cover do I need?

There are different types of ‘home’ insurance – contents only, buildings and contents, or buildings only. Contents insurance covers your belongings; buildings insurance covers the fabric of the property (like the roof). Wherever you’re living, your landlord (or university) should cover the ‘buildings’ part.
A contents insurance policy should cover your stuff if it’s stolen, lost, or damaged by storms, fires, burst pipes, etc. It’s worth adding ‘accidental’ damage to your policy, too.

Don’t forget to read the small print

You might feel safe in the knowledge that your contents insurance covers you for £5,000 worth of stuff, and the most expensive thing you own is a laptop – but often there are hidden restrictions. For example, laptops may only be covered up to certain value (or sometimes not at all), as may mobile phones and tablets; and you may be covered for theft and damage but not loss.
Location can be a factor, too: your car insurance may not be valid if you’re living away at university or if you don’t let them know you are at a different address to that stated on your policy. The excess figure is also something you must pay attention to: you’ll pay this part of any claim that you decide to make, and the insurance company will pay the rest.