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How you can springboard into student life without coming to financial grief

Vicky Shaw investigates how to start off your financial life as a student on a good footing and stretch your budget further

Just weeks from now, many young adults will be getting their first taste of financial freedom as they head off to university.

For many, it will be the first time they have lived away from the family home - meaning they'll have the new experience of bills to juggle and budgets to keep on top of.

While this may seem daunting, it's also an opportunity to develop good money habits which could help you way beyond student life.

Here are some tips from Rachel Springall, a finance expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk, to get students started.

1. Pick a suitable student account

Starting off with a good bank account can help students over their years of study. Applying for a generous interest-free overdraft could be a lifeline, but you must be able to pay it back once you finish your education.

As with any bank account, it's worth noting that the biggest overdraft limits are not a guarantee as applicants will be credit checked, so those with a bad credit history (such as mature students who may have had issues in the past) may want to improve their credit score first.

2. Budget carefully

By budgeting their way through their course and keeping a tight rein on spending, students will hopefully still be left with some money in their pockets at the end of the week to go shopping or socialising. Little changes such as making a coffee at home, or even lunch, can make a huge difference after just a few weeks.

3. Save the change

Each time students buy something they could save the change and watch their savings grow.

For example, with Lloyds Bank, when customers are in credit, purchases may be rounded up to the nearest pound with the difference put into a separate account.

4. Make the most of apps to save

One of the free apps around that could help students save money without even thinking about it is Chip. The app works out how much money users could save and it will also go one step further and move this money into a separate account, so students are required to do very little to start saving.

5. Check your bank balance regularly while you're 'on the go'

Living away from home means overseeing daily expenses, so checking payments on the go using mobiles or tablets will be very practical.

Students don't have to choose a bank that's nearby or on campus if they only need online access.

6. Stay up-to-date with your credit score

At some point, students may look to take out a student credit card, or get a mobile phone contract.

There are various agencies to approach to check a credit score first, such as Experian, Equifax and Callcredit.

Providers can ask one or more of these agencies for data to assess applicants, so it's important to check your credit score regularly with multiple brands.

7. Review utility bills

It's easy to be laid back when it comes to bills, but you should always be on the lookout for ways to save money by switching provider and not take their current offer at face value.

It's also important for students to make sure their fellow housemates understand the monthly costs and the importance of paying bills on time.

8. Keep an NUS card handy

An NUS card gives students access to many places that offer discounts, so they should remember to keep it with them. When eating out, there may be even greater discounts, so students should consider this when searching for a place to eat.

9. Get a part-time job

Securing a part-time job can make all the difference for students hoping to build up some spending money.

Getting a reference and starting a job will not only help students financially, but also introduce them to new people - helping to build up a social circle and get settled in.

10. Protect possessions with insurance

Consider taking out cover for gadgets and other contents just in case.

It's quick and simple to get a quote online, and students can pick a plan that suits their needs so that it covers their valuable items.

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