Easy budgeting tips for new students

For many students, going into university means more independence, as well as more financial responsibility. Therefore, here are some tips on how to manage your budget during this exciting and challenging time.

1. Create a Budget

Firstly, and more obviously, you will have to create a realistic budget which can work for you. Make a list of all types of income that you receive, whether it will be money from loans, your parents, your part-time job, etc.) and then make a list of your expenses. One of the benefits of such lists is that it will help you to see the difference between what you need, like rent, groceries and textbooks, and what you want, like going out, clothing sprees and other fun but not very necessary purchases.

2. Don’t Overbuy

Try not to overspend money on unnecessary items. Yes, it is exciting that you are moving to university but this does not mean that you have to buy everything you see in the home section of the department store. Realize how much you will actually need and remember that even for parties, you can actually just use paper or plastic cups and utensils. Also, it is a smart idea to limit your new purchases before you see how much space you have available. Focus on setting up a routine first and then see what still needs to be bought.

However, keep in mind that some pricey purchases may be worth the money in the long run. For example, if you love coffee, it will be a great idea to invest into a coffee pot because daily trips to Starbucks might not influence your budget very well. Simply think carefully and purchase wisely.

3. Learn to Cook

One great way to save money is to learn to cook for yourself. By making your own packed lunch and simple dinners, you will save great deal on inflated prices, giving tips in restaurants and delivery fees. Before going to the grocery store, think carefully what you are going to eat and create a list of things you need and then stick to it once you are in the grocery store. Focus on buying rather more basic and multipurpose foods that can be used for more than one dish and this will help you avoid getting any excess ingredients which won’t serve you any good.

So overall, keep in mind that it is not so difficult to stay on track with your finances when you are in university once you have a realistic budget and you stick to it.

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Saving Money on Books for Your Course

With the need to conserve their student loan and make sure it lasts the whole year, students tend to be quite good at being frugal. Nonetheless, there are still a few mistakes that students often tend to make, and books represent a lot of unnecessary student spending. Many students, especially new students, spend a lot more than they need to when buying the various volumes that are necessary for their studies.

Use the Library

University libraries are there for a reason. They often have multiple copies of most or all required texts, yet surprisingly few students actually take advantage of this. They either don’t think about the library as a source of their required reading list, rather than searching for additional materials for essays, or they just assume all the copies have gone. While this varies from course to course and between different universities, but often it is quite possible to borrow much of your reading list for free.

Buy Second Hand

Perhaps the most obvious way to save money while buying books for your course is to get them second hand. A lot of students, especially new students, walk into the local bookshop, head to a display specifically made up of required course texts, and buy them all brand new at full price. This is surprising, because many of those same students would head straight online and look at Amazon Marketplace or eBay if they were buying a DVD or even a book for personal use. Of course, many students do buy their books second hand, and if you don’t then you should probably join their ranks. Try to get them as soon as the course reading list is released, though, because a lot of other students will soon be looking for the same texts.

Other Students

A more specific way of buying second hand books is to get them from other students at the same university. It is likely the same modules were run last year with the same reading list or a very similar one, so a lot of last year’s students will have all the books you need lying around and no longer wanted. If you know any students in the year above, ask them if they have any of the books you need and would be willing to sell them cheaply. Put out wanted adverts on places like noticeboards, or check out specialist websites. Some universities provide specific channels for students to do this, so find out if this applies to yours.

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Student Loan Tips for Recent Graduates

As a recent graduate, it is important that you keep your student loan debt under control. This includes avoiding fees and any extra interest costs that may appear. Also, you need to keep your payments affordable and protect your credit rating. However, if you experience problems with finding a job or keeping on track with your payments, here are a few useful tips to follow:

1.       Know Your Loans:

It is vital to keep track of a few important details, such as the lender, balance, and repayment status, for each of your student loans. These factors will determine your options for loan repayment and forgiveness. If you have any problems with obtaining these, contact either your lender or your school and they will assist you with your records. 

2.       Know Your Grace Period:

A grace period is the length of the period after leaving school before you have to start making your payments. Different loans have different grace periods.

3.       Stay in Touch with Your Lender:

Make sure that in case you change your phone number or email address, you inform yoru lender straight away. Otherwise, if your lender wants to contact you and the information you have provided is not current, it may cost you a lot of money. Also, read every email or letter that you receive concerning your loans so that you keep yourself updated with everything that is going on. If you have any problems, turn to your lender because he is supposed to resolve any problems that you experience regarding your loan. Ignoring bills or any other serious problems may have unwanted long-term consequences.

4.       Choose the Right Repayment Option:

Your loan payments will automatically be based on a standard 10-year repayment plan. However, if the standard payment is going to cause you difficulties, you can change plans so it is worth exploring other payments options. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that if you extend your repayment period beyond 10 years this will help you lower your monthly payments but in the long-term it will cause you to help more interest over the life of the loan. Also, you need to inform yourself on the forgiveness policies so that you are aware of everything that is out there.

5.       Don’t Panic:

If you are experiencing troubles making your payments due to unemployment, health problems or other unforeseen financial challenges, remember that there are always other options to manage your loans. There are legitimate ways to temporarily postpone your loan payments, such as deferments and forbearance. However, be aware that interest builds up on all types of loans during forbearance, so make sure you ask your lender about those details beforehand.

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Thousands of Complaints a Day on PPI Mis-selling

According to recent statistics, every dy there are thousands of complaints received for all banks, except MBNA and HSBC.

The Financial Ombudsman Service continues to handle more than 1,000 complaints a day about mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) claims, even though there was a sharp fall in the number of complaints in the second half of last year compared to earlier this year.  

The ombudsman pointed out that some of the most complained financial institutions in the second half of 2013 were Lloyds TSB, Bank of Scotland, Barclays, MBNA and HSBC. Only the last two institutions saw a rise in the number of complaints compared to the earlier period.

Indeed, welcome news for everyone is that the huge amount of financial complaints in 2013 is finally starting to decrease. However, it is still early to say that PPI is completely sorted at last. More than 1, 000 people each day ask for help with dealing with their PPI problems which they cannot solve directly with their bank. Furthermore, when it comes to the settlements being achieved with the various banks, there are significant differences. For example, of the 36, 506 complaints made against Barclays, the ombudsman decided in favor of the customer in 77% of the cases. Yet, of the 6, 436 complaints made against Nationwide building society, only 10% were defended.

In addition to those figures, the number of PPI cases being upheld is also decreasing. More than half of the 266, 228 cases in the first six months of 2013 were upheld in favor of the customer, compared to the second six months of 2013, when only 56% of the 190, 356 cases were judged in favor of the customer.

A lot of the complaints about PPI come from contentious “claims management companies” but according to the ombudsman, there was no real difference between the defended rates compared to the complaints that were viewed by individual customers. Furthermore, for complaints about financial products that were different than PPI, the total number of cases referred to the ombudsman was 8% lower than the first half of 2013. In other words, banking complaints were reduced by 11% and insurance cases by 7%.

One of the positive effects of the fall of PPI cases is that there will be less delays in handling the upcoming cases. The prediction are that there is going to be a rise in complaints made about mis-sold packaged accounts, even though the numbers are still small compared to PPI. Overall, since a lot of work was done for PPI in 2013, it is natural to expect a fall in the number of such cases in 2014.

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How to Have More Money as a Student

Here are few ideas on how to spend less and still get more as a student:

Try to spend less at the supermarket

Look out for the value range that most big supermarkets have. Often those products are just as good as the ones offered by big brands but they will save you some money from your regular grocery shopping bill.  Thus, it is worth trying some of these products just to see for yourself that most of the time there is no real difference between value range and big brands.

Find Friends To Cook With

If you are a student, it is most likely that you will have housemates. You can plan meals for the week ahead together with them and then split the food bill for the necessary ingredients. Then you will have a variety of meals the whole week, you will have saved some money and you will not waste food. Plus, it is a great fun to cook with other people.

Don’t Take Your Debit Card Everywhere With You

When you go out, make sure you only have the amount of cash that you will actually going you need. Take just a little bit more in case of an emergency.  If you have your debit card with you, there is always a risk that you might want to spend a little bit more for an extra drink or a late night burger.

Make the most of charity shops

If you want to constantly be dressed up with new clothes, this can turn up to be very pricey for your pocket. However, you can find a way around that by exploring various charity shops where you can often find very good bargains. You might need to use some creativity but overall, it will be great fun to see what you can find in such shops.

Get used to prioritizing what you need and making a budget

Budgeting may not sound fun but it can make a big difference. The first thing you need to do when you first student instalment comes is to set aside money for your rent which will be enough until your next instalment comes. Also, sometimes it is worth to miss a night out but have food to eat for the entire next week.

Get a student discount card

A lot of universities offer student cards with which you can get various discounts on things which can save you money on food, clothes and nights out.

 

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Most Underestimated Student Expenditures

With the new year almost upon us many are set to start courses in January as well as those who will find 2014 to be the year where they take their A-levels and find a path into university later on in the year. Whichever way you take, learning to manage your finances and stick to a budget will be as bigger part of your education as the course you are set to undertake. This article lists some of the most underestimated costs which new and existing students often fail to acknowledge.

Course materials

Obtaining the right books and material for the course you have enrolled to always requires an initial investment, often of substance! 45% of first years students who recently took part in a survey stated that they spent substantially more on their books and stationary then they had expected. Great ways to cut these costs is to look out for second hand material. New books are commonly found to be very costly and rarely contain anything of great difference from the years before. It is worth looking out for university run book fairs as well as library clearance sale who offer books at a slashed price. If you are not one for the out of date second hand purchases, then look no further than Amazon! The online retailer has some of the most competitive prices on a wide range of academic books. It is worth browsing through a few online libraries and book shops before running to buy your course material from the university recommended stationer.

Transport expenses

Prior to university, most students would have benefited from under 18s oyster cards if you lived in London or the luxury of having your parents giving you a lift to school. The realisation of the cost of travel will soon become a nightmare with travel often being a student’s prime expense throughout the year. In order to minimise this cost you must first work out whether it will be cheaper to pay for standard adult travel or purchase the student travel cards which come at a discount. All will depend on where you live and the amount of times you will have to get into uni. Do not be misled by rushing into buying a student travel card, they will only benefit you if you travel most days of the week.

Food

The old myth that student live of beaked beans and toast and pot noodle is now nothing more than a granny tale. With most students receiving loans or some sort of support, the financial freedom expectedly leads us to sampling the better things in life. Going to restaurants and out for meals is often something done 2,3 or even 4 times per week for the average student! A good way to cut the cost of this is by flashing your uni card everywhere you go. Most places will give students a discount or offer some sort of perk. A second way to save money is by looking out for promotional vouchers which may include 2 for 1 meals.

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Uni Financial Survival Tips

Whether you are in your final year of studies or you are just starting university, there are always a trick in the book which you have missed when it comes to your spending. Managing your finances and keeping on top of your budged is just as important and a learning experience as the course you are doing itself. Uni is a time where many of us become independent and start to appreciate the freebies our parents have given to us over the years which we now see the true price of. This article contains tips and tricks which have been proven to help you manage a sustainable budget without having too hard of an impact.

Weekly budget                                

If it is that you decide only to pick and stick with one piece of advice from this article, then let it be this one. Setting yourself a budget and being able to live according to it is a very important and helpful tool. A good way of doing this is to have a look at the money you have for the month or until the next time you will be getting money. With bills and rent to be kept in mind, divide this number into the number of weeks you have to make that last and this will provide you with your weekly allowance. There are now many apps out there which can help you do this or an alternative is to take a good old pen and paper and calculate this yourself!

Student discounts

Being a student brings with it many perks, one of which is surely the student discounts. There are many offers for students which most high street retailers and restaurants are happily willing to give you simply by flashing your student card with the NUS sign on. By making sure you ask for discounts and flashing your card at every opportunity you will find yourself quickly saving a good amount of money on everyday outings and purchases.

Food shop with your parents

Food cost is one of the most common underestimation which new students make. Food is likely to be one of your biggest expenditures aside from rent and bills which is why you must take every opportunity when your parents are in town for a visit. If you convince your parents to chip in for your food shopping then make the most of it!

Think before signing up to a society

There are plenty of opportunities to sign up to a wide range of societies both at fresher’s week and during term time. The cost is usually a small membership fee and one not so hard to swallow. However, as well as sometimes being time consuming societies can be a good way of blowing loads of money away during socials and gatherings and on what become routine outing sessions. The best way to handle these is to pick the one or two you most desire and stick with them.

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3 Free Alternatives to Buying a New PC

The lifespan of your laptop is somewhat dependent on your usage habits however as a general rule of thumb, you’re likely to start seeing your laptop slowing down after 2 to 4 years of use. When this is the case, buying a new one is often the most convenient solution to the problem.

However, it’s unlikely that in these tough economic times your budget will allow you to spare £500+ on a new PC or laptop. Naturally, you could choose to purchase a lower-cost model or even go second hand, however these may not prove that reliable meaning a year or so down the line you could be finding yourself in the same position you’re in now.

Ideally, you need to buy yourself time over the next few months or even year to save up for a good quality PC. However with your current system crashing consistently, you may feel this is simply not an option, especially if you rely on it for your occupation. Fortunately though, this can be done – you just need to carry out some basic maintenance on your current system to get it back up to health.

Here are 3 cheap ways to prolong the lifespan of your old PC or laptop:

1.     Remove any unused programs

It’s likely that over time your hard drive will have become full of software and plug-ins that you’ve installed for whatever reason. These will slow down your PC so you need to get rid of them. This can be done very easily and quickly on Windows devices through the ‘Control Panel’ and the ‘Add or Remove Programs’ option. It may also be worth your time to empty the recycle bin too – especially if you haven’t done so for a while.

2.     Defragment the disk

Despite how technical it may sound, defragmenting the disk is actually very easy to do. Basically, over time your hard drive will become cluttered with fragments of files which will slow down the system. If you’re running a relatively new version of Windows then disk defragmentation may be automated once a month; however this full process may take hours which means if you run out of charge or shut down your system at any point the process will be aborted until the next month.

For this reason, it’s definitely worth your time to defragment the disk manually. You can do this by going to All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter. Simply click the drive that you’d like to defragment and the rest will be done for you.

3.     Carry out a System Restore

Despite defragmenting the disk and removing any unused programs – you may still find that your laptop or PC is running slowly. The chances are in this situation you’ve either accidentally changed a critical setting or your system is infected by some malware – in this situation a full system restore may be in order. A system restore does as expected and restores your PC back to its original settings meaning if you’ve changed any settings; these will be resurrected. Your PC will be regularly create ‘restore points’, so you can choose exactly when you want to restore your system back to.

Before carrying out a system restore it may be worth your time to back up all of your files on an external hard drive to ensure that you don’t lose anything important like photos, music or documents.

Simply typing ‘System Restore’ in the programs and files search bar will bring up what you need. The rest of the process is very straight forward and could boost the performance of your laptop two-fold.

Conclusion

It must be said, just because you carry out these three things it doesn’t mean your laptop will last forever; it will however prolong its lifespan. Carrying out these changes will however buy you a little bit of time to save up for a new device. So budget well, save money and set some financial goals so that you can have the laptop of your dreams!

This article has been written by Jason Scott on behalf of No Fee Loans UK. For more top money saving tips visit their website.

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Five Ways To Save Money During The Uni Years

1. Stay at home and go to a local university.

A loan of £4,375 is the maximum available for students living at home compared with the £5,500 loan for those students that study away from home outside London. According to NUS research, the average annual room rent for students costs £5,224, and comparing this to loans for living at home with loans for living at university accommodation, you can see the potential savings.

2. Find paid work during the holiday seasons.

Keep your eyes peeled for any paid opportunities and look around well in advance for local jobs, or beg favours from any friends and relatives in a position to employ you.

3. Make sure you apply direct to their chosen university for any extra funding on offer.

Many universities and societies offer bursaries and/or scholarships to help with the costs of studying, either as straight cash payments or in the form of discounted accommodation or even as credit towards course costs including books, printing and IT products. On the other hand, some will reduce their fees for students who meet particular criteria, such as those households with low incomes or applicants from particular schools with links with the institution. Bursaries, scholarships and ‘fee waivers’ can be applied for, without needing to be paid back, on top of any student loans and grants that you might claim.

4. If/when living out, find the cheapest student housing offered by your university.

A recent accommodation costs survey, carried out by the NUS points out that, at £68.70 per week plus bills, the average rent in a shared house in the private rented sector is actually much cheaper than the £123.96 average weekly rent in purpose-built student accommodation prices. So worthwhile option may be to bypass the traditional first year in a student hall of residence and opt instead to go into a privately shared house. Keep in contact with the relevant university student housing team for advice and help with finding the ideal accommodation.

5. Think carefully if you need to borrow more money to support yourself.

If making up for the cost of your student life from the family’s income stream is near impossible, do not simply take out a personal loan. For example, a £15,000 loan over the three years of student life at the current best fixed interest rate of around 5% may just cost you nearly £500 a month in repayments. On the other hand, if you have a low-interest, tracker-style mortgage and substantial equity in your home it might be worth borrowing more against your home instead. This will give you more value for money and make repayments easier to pay, as borrowing an extra £15,000 over 15 years at, say 2.5%, would cost £100 a month in repayments – £18,000 in total including fees and interest.

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Generational Approach of Student Debt in America

College is an important time for many young people who have just finished high school. It’s a time that many teens truly become adults, often living on their own for the first time and having to manage their affairs without the help of family members looking out for them. College is also a time when many high school graduates find out what they want to do for a living and get the skills and knowledge they need to build a career. For that reason, college is important, and considering that more students are going every year, it’s a necessity for students that want to stay relevant in the job market.

However, college can be incredibly expensive and many students incur a huge amount of debt because of their college education. In fact, many students own hundreds of thousands of dollars of their undergraduate degree alone – more if they choose to pursue an advanced degree. While student loans are generally flexible, and payments can be deferred, many students end up paying considerable amounts of money in interest alone. In some cases, interest payments can be $50,000 or higher over a period of 20 years or more.

For more information on student loans and how they can impact you as an adult or your children, check out this infographic provided by Consolidated Credit.

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