Being a third year at university I have honestly been through the whole finance drama.
Firstly, before you even start university there are a few financial questions:
1. How much will my loan be?
2. Can I live off of it comfortably?
3. When do I have to pay my deposit?
To answer question one, you can get a rough estimate from the Student Finance Calculator, all you need are some basic details such as how much your tuition fees are, family income (prepare for your parents to not want to tell you this information even though you need to know it to fill out the actual finance forms), when you're starting and if you are going to university in or outside of London and any disabilities or extra help you might need.
This is a rough guide of how much you might get for that year, and keep in mind you get three payments throughout the year. We were on low income so a lot of my maintenance loan turned into a grant (grants mean you don't have to pay it back - yipee!) and I also qualified for an extra bursary each term (more free money).
For those of you starting this year, it's all unfortunately been turned into loans [insert sad face emoji].
Here is an example of the finance calculator:
You shouldn't be terrified of finance, there's lots of help around and especially at your university to guide you through the process.
The second question depends on how much you get, you will need to budget and work out how much rent you need to pay each term, if there's anything you'll need to pay for as part of your course, and a rough food budget. Notice I haven't included booze in this! First and foremost you need a roof over your head and food! There are lots of stories of students getting their first instalment of their loan and spending it all on the first Fresher's night - please do not do this. Unless you have rich parents to fall back on that is not advisable!
In my first year I didn't go out drinking much, partly because my housemates weren't party animals and I was quite happy binging Netflix and making Angel Delight. I also kept to roughly £20 per week on food as I shopped at ASDA and would raid the reduced sections as I memorised their reducing times!
If you keep to a strict budget you will be perfectly fine! I also kept my job so I had some extra income for when that loan starts to disappear, I would definitely recommend looking for a part time job even if it's just one day a week. It'll put some extra money in your pocket and also show's people you were prepared to work through university and not just party all the time.
My third point is very important, I didn't actually realise I had to pay a deposit before my loan came in. This is so that landlords can have security that they will have tenants for that year and usually they aren't refundable. I was completely broke before going to university, it was a very recent thing where I went shopping a bit too much and had to ask friends for money as I was ashamed of nearly having noughts appear in my account.
Luckily my parents saw I was hiding something and helped me cover my deposit and I paid them back with my loan. If you can save up now for your deposit I would advise it as you don't want to get into a bad habit of borrowing money (cough that's me cough cough).
As I mentioned earlier, in my first year I did ok I didn't have a lot of savings (I paid for a holiday, an iPad and lots of clothes that I never wore or didn't fit me), but then I kept getting into a bad habit of having to borrow money to see through the months. I also tried leaving my job for other jobs and it didn't work out and I ended up getting taxed a fair amount for having two jobs, and at one point they thought I had four?!
I made the mistake of getting an overdraft in my second year, as everyone had one and I thought it'd be a nice safety net and I wouldn't have to borrow from my parents anymore. I started off with just £500 as I could easily pay that back with wages. However, I could increase my overdraft online. Bad mistake. This then lead onto making an appointment at the bank to ask for an even bigger overdraft, and by this point I was in too deep.
If you saw my post earlier this year Why I'm On A Spending Ban you'll have noticed it's taken me awhile to get my finances under wraps. If you can avoid overdrafts I'd advise that! I didn't really need one and I abused it a bit too much.
I've got my last loan this month and it's terrifying. I have no savings and I still need to clear some debt and pay for driving. So you can guess where it's all going to go...
My one last piece of advice to you, whether you're about to become a university student or are a first or second year, is to save or spend your money wisely. If you need a phone, laptop, camera, decent clothes that are durable and can justify it then go ahead. But these loans won't last forever, trust me! These three years go by really fast!
Sorry for a very wordy post, but I hope it's helpful and can give you some insight!
Please check out these lovely ladies posts!
Jasmine from Thoughts From Jasmine (she brought us all together)
Jen from Velvet Spring
Becky from The Owlet
Annaleid from Actually Anna
Sophie from The Glamour Reel
Katherine from Millennial Rants
Tori from Legally Brunette