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Off to University? Time to get organised!

Some essentials to consider when starting university

Once you've got your results and you know what you're doing next year, it will be time to start getting organised for the first year of university. Once the excitement has died down, you'll need to make a list of those essentials you need, from insurance to shopping for your new room. Whilst things such as insurance and bills aren't the most interesting aspects of leaving for university, having an idea of what you need to do when you arrive will help save you money and hopefully make your year start off smoothly.

Though students are often stereotypically considered to be constantly counting an ever decreasing pile of pennies, there are simple ways in which you can make sure you have the money to really enjoy your year at university. We outline some of the top tips to save money and make the most of the social side of your year.

student essentials

Student Finance

Most people will have already applied for their student finance and will have been accepted, if this is the case, you should have an idea of how much you will receive over the next year. However, if you applied for student finance and you haven't got into your first choice university, instead going to your insurance choice or going through clearing, you will need to go onto your student finance application and update it. This will ensure that they know where to send your tuition fees and how to calculate your maintenance loan should you be moving into or out of a London university, where students get more funding. If you haven't yet applied to student finance, it is paramount that you do so immediately!

Student Insurance

If you are moving into a halls of residence, then you will most likely have contents insurance included in the price of your rent, however this can sometimes be a very basic level so do check out the full details of your protection. If you do want to look at a full range of options compare student insurance on MoneyMaxim to get the right cover for your belongings. If you're moving into private housing, then you are unlikely to have contents insurance included so do make sure you get yourself insured as laptops and other gadgets are expensive to be replaced especially as a student! MoneyMaxim has a panel of insurers for students contents insurance, so check that out to find out more about the insurance you're likely to need.

Bank Account

Finding a student bank account can be overwhelming as there are many different banks offering different things to try and get your business. One of the key things to identify is whether you will need an overdraft, if you will our top tip is to find an account which offers an 0% overdraft meaning they will effectively not charge you for using it.

We have found that HSBC offer one of the largest 0% overdraft limits of up to £3,000, though it is not uncommon that in their first year at university for students to only be offered up to £1,000. A popular bank account amongst students is Santander's 123 Student Current Account, this offers a 0% overdraft of up to £1,500, but on top of this it also gives those who choose their current account a 4-year 16 to 25 year old railcard which you'll receive within three weeks of opening the account. Make a list of the requirements you'd like your bank account to have and definitely shop around to find the one that suits you best.

TV Licence

It is a legal requirement to have a TV licence should you want to watch live television or listen to live radio shows. If you are in halls of residence at your university you're likely to have your TV licence already supplied for the communal area, however it is very unlikely that you will have one for your individual rooms, do check your agreement though. If you have sorted out your own accommodation privately the likelihood is that you will not have a TV licence already paid for by the landlords, you will need a TV licence for every television behind every locked door, so if you're bedrooms have locks on then you will need a licence.

Budget

Whilst at university, you'll have to pay for various things that you are not likely to have had to fund prior to this, such as bills, food, rent on top of money for social events! The best way to go about this is to calculate how much money you will have for either the whole academic year, each academic term or each month, following this calculate how much you will need to spend on rent, electricity, gas and water bills and food in your chosen time period.

Setting yourself a budget for how much you'll spend on food (and sticking to it!) will give you a realistic idea of how much money you will have after these expenditures. If you find yourself in a deficit, talk to your parents and see if they can help you out or perhaps start looking for jobs in your university town. Whilst rent, bills and food do take up a lot of your money do remember that your course may require a large amount of text books to be brought out of your money from student finance, and take into account the purchases that will need to be made less frequently such as those for toiletries and stationary. Creating a budget early on means you can get your head around it before freshers week begins!

NUS

****NUS Extra cards can be purchased whilst you are doing your A Levels and so you may already know a bit about them. Anyone at university is able to get one and prices start from £12 for one year, you are able to buy 1, 2 and 3 year cards. They are great for students as they provide discounts for over 160 brands spanning across retail, insurance and food outlets. In many shops you can receive a 10% discount when purchasing with a NUS Extra card, so they are well worth buying, especially when you're on a student budget!

Railcard

It's not the first thing that may come to mind, but university can mean a lot of travelling. When you want to come home for Christmas, Easter and Summer, you may need to get the train back from your university city to your home town, these train journeys can all add up in price, especially if you are moving a considerable difference away from home! In addition to this, it's always nice to keep in contact with those friends you went to school with and this can sometimes end up in trips around the country to visit them all over the year. By having a 16 to 25 year old railcard you can save a third on most train journeys, prices start from £30 for one year, or £70 for three years saving you £20, it is definitely worth buying a railcard if you are making numerous train trips around the country!

Gas and Electricity Bills

If you are not in halls of residence for your first year, or you are going into your second year or third year then the likelihood is that energy bills are not included in your rent. Bills can be a huge drain on your finances so ensuring you're on the right tariff can be a great way to save money. You have a right to switch to an alternative energy provider even if you are renting, check your tenancy agreement to be sure that there are no clauses stating that you are not able to, and if this is the case talk to your landlord as they may be prepared to be flexible. Use MoneyMaxim's energy comparison service to find out whether you're on the most competitive tariff.

Water Bills

Along with energy bills, water bills are unlikely to be included in your rent if you are leasing from a private landlord. Check that it isn't and, if this is the case, then remember to budget for them.

Council Tax

Students are exempt from paying council tax but you need to sort this out yourself, if staying in privately rented accommodation, by sending a letter confirming your attendance at university from your university to the council so they can verify you are actually a student. If you do forget this, you will have to pay your council tax but you can get a refund by sending in your letters of attendance.

After you've got your head around all there is to do before you enrol on your course, make sure you relax and enjoy your last couple of weeks at home with friends and family! Also, ensure you do all the fun bits of kitting out your new room and getting all your new stationary in check for the term to begin. When it comes to the start of the year you'll definitely be ready for freshers week!

This content was last reviewed on 14/07/2017

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