It can be tough trying to make ends meet as a student. Once you've covered rent and bill payments, you could have little – if anything – left over for that all-important social life. But are you being completely honest about the state of your finances, not only to yourself, but to your parents?
According to research from Money Dashboard, a large number of students aren't exactly forthcoming when discussing their finances. In fact, 21% of students surveyed admitted that they were never or rarely honest with their parents when it came to money, while 8% never discussed financial matters at home.
There are clear regional variations, however, with students in Belfast the least likely to be honest about their finances – 41% admitted that they were never or rarely honest with their parents about such things – while those in Norwich were found to be the most truthful, with 83% being completely honest about money matters.
Given that finances can be so stretched as a student, honesty is always the best policy. The study went on to find that the typical student has a monthly budget of just £488, meaning that after rent and bills have been paid (averaging £304 per month), they have just £186 left in disposable income – an average of just £46.59 per week.
Really, then, it's no wonder that so many students end up in debt. These findings coincide with reports of rising debt, with figures from the Higher Education Commission stating that the average UK student will be left with debt of over £44,000 under the current system, and as a result, it's estimated that 73% will be unable to pay off their loan in full.
Money Dashboard's Lisa Raynsford commented: "Lies are often the result of anxiety about what other people might think, having to take decisive action or facing up to something difficult. If talking about being in the red is not possible, then there are other options when trying to get your finances in order. Now is the perfect time to seek out a few tips and tricks because, by tracking regular outgoings and planning ahead, anyone can learn how to be good with money."
So, as well as being honest with your parents – who may be able to help if you're truly struggling – it's also important to be honest with yourself. Set a budget and stick to it, ideally tracking everything you spend so you have a clear view of where your money's going, and of course, you'll want the right bank account to suit. Student accounts can be ideal: not only do most offer incentives, but they tend to come with generous overdrafts too, so can be the perfect way to help keep your head above water when you're stretched towards the end of term.
One final thing – don't let that student loan burn a hole in your pocket! It's easy to become over-excited when the payment arrives, but just think of how much you'll need it in a few months' time. Be savvy, be sensible, and if possible, stash some of it in a savings account – out of sight out of mind could be your perfect mantra!
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