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Is your child leaving home to start university?

As the new university term starts for another year, new undergraduates for the first time will have to learn how to cope living away from home and how to handle their finances.

As a parent how can you best prepare your child and give them a “life lesson” in budgeting?  Many youngsters will throughout their university life rely on a mixture of loans, hand-outs, the bank of “mum and dad” and part-time jobs to pay living expenses and fees.

How can you best guide as a parent?

  • Banking

New students will be bombarded during fresher’s week with bank accounts offering all manner of attractive incentives but make sure your young adult carefully checks out the terms and conditions which extend far beyond a free rail card or a Netflix subscription! Look in particular for interest free overdraft facilities and make sure that these are capable of being paid off within a short time of graduation and before interest is applied.

  • Insurance

Make sure a policy is taken out which protects laptops, mobiles, cash and clothes.  Sometimes home insurance will cover electronics or mobile phones and cover can often be extended to include things like bicycles or musical instruments of children living away from the family home.

  • Budgeting

Spending can be tracked these days by a mobile banking app. This can help to see where and when money is being spent.  Try to encourage your student child to only take cash on a night out – its far easier to keep track of and “see” what things cost!

  • Getting a job

Working part-time can help fund a university life-style, boost an ailing bank balance and also look impressive on a CV (post-grad). The first £12,500 earned will be tax-free (2019/20) if your child has spare time outwith lectures to take a part-time job.

  • Second-hand “will do”

Brand new books and equipment are fun but probably “non-essential” and second-hand can save lots of cash on day one.

  • Accommodation

If sharing a flat, encourage your young adult to buy and cook in bulk, freeze meals and eat-in when possible. If eating out some restaurants will have student discounts and free vouchers/deals can often be found on campus for chain restaurants.

No council tax will be payable in households where everyone is a full-time student.

Heading off to university will mark the first of many life lessons but hopefully some of these suggestions will help keep the bank balance in order !!

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