20 September 2018

Calling all graduates… Here’s how to keep your finances in check

Congratulations – you’ve graduated!

It’s time to pick up your hard-earned degree, get a job and become financially independent… We’re aware that it’s not always that easy.

Life after university can seem daunting, especially when it comes to managing your finances. Whilst qualifications benefit your career opportunities, student debt may mean that money is a little tighter to begin with.

But no matter what your financial situation is, it’s important to stay in control of how you spend your money. That means living within your means, paying your bills and starting to think about short and long-term savings goals.

Here are five quick ways to keep your finances in check…

1. Tie up any loose ends when you move out of your university ‘digs’

Moving out of your university house for the final time can feel like the start of the next chapter – but the last thing you want to be leaving with is a stack of unpaid bills.

So, first things first, remember to take a final reading on your gas/electric meter before letting your provider know that you’re leaving. This ensures any outstanding bills have been paid.

Secondly, resolve your deposit. When the final person has moved out, your landlord may inspect the property, running through any inventory that was completed at the start of the tenancy. This is your opportunity to obtain the refund of your deposit.

Since 2007, landlords have been required to put your deposit in a government-backed Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). If the landlord makes a charge for wear and tear in the house, ask to see a copy of the inventory and costs incurred so you can check they’re fair. If you’re in dispute with your landlord, the deposit remains safe in the TDS while you resolve it. Once you’ve agreed how much you’ll get back, you must receive it within 10 days.

2. Double check your overdraft limit and avoid hefty charges

After graduating, many students can find their bank balance getting closer to their overdraft limit without the security of the next student loan instalment – and often without a permanent job to help them pay their bills.

It’s important to try and avoid going over your overdraft limit because it can result in some pretty hefty charges – which can be as high as £15 per card transaction. It can become a vicious cycle that is difficult to escape.

If you're struggling or have any concerns, talk to your bank who should be able to help you. But the very best option is to have a clear plan and budget to avoid breaking into your overdraft.

3. Switch to a graduate account

Once you finish university, it is worth considering switching your student account to a graduate one. It’s not always possible for graduates to pay off their overdraft in the first year out of university, but the sooner you can do this the better. These accounts often come with perks – so it could be worth looking into.

 4. Set a budget and keep to it

Setting a budget can help you take control of your finances. It will offer you a bit of structure and help you avoid any unwanted debt.

To get your budget in order, record your income and consider all of your outgoing costs – everything from household bills and rent to living costs, travel expenses and leisure activities.

Life can be unpredictable so you might have to be flexible with your budget every now and then, but that’s completely okay!

5. Ditch any unnecessary expenses

It's true that cutting back on luxuries can be somewhat disheartening, but you'll appreciate the extra cash in your back pocket and less stress!

These are just some of the often-expensive, extra monthly outgoings you might want to give up in the short-term:

  • Music and film subscriptions – most of us enjoy binging on a box set, but a subscription can cost up to £12.99 a month. Is it really worth it?
  • Gym memberships – we’re not saying ‘don’t exercise’, but maybe use the great outdoors instead of spending £20+ on a monthly membership.
  • Your car – it might be worth utilising public transport more often, or walking when possible? It could work out a lot cheaper than the hundreds of pounds spent on running a car per month.

So there you have it – five quick tips that will stand you in good stead until that permanent job comes along.

Don’t forget, once you pay off that student debt, you can start saving for the nicer things in life – a holiday, a new home or something special. Albeit daunting at first, this is the start of the rest of your life. Go get ‘em!

Published: 20/09/2018