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How to make your money go further? Shop around for the best deals!

8th August 2016

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Shopping around for the best finance deals can pay off for students on a tight budget, says Anne Chawk, a Senior Student Finance Advisor at the University of Bedfordshire.

For many students, going to university represents your first foray into financial independence. There are certainly attractive offers to be had on the high street, as banks, insurance companies and other retailers compete for students as potentially loyal customers for years to come.

Evaluating the offers available on the high street may not be the most glamourous task you’ll ever undertake, but making smart decisions on where to put your money can actually save you considerable amounts in the long run.

One of the biggest attractions of a student bank account is the 0% overdraft that provides students with a penalty-free loan to dip in and out of when they need a little extra cash.

This overdraft facility offers great flexibility for students, and when shopping around you will want to consider two things – the size of the overdraft and the length of time you can keep it for. The biggest and longest overdraft offers will be the most attractive, so make sure to look into the details when comparing different options.

Additionally many banks offer freebies to new student customers – student railcards or Amazon vouchers for example. While these are attractive it is important to consider the relative value of each offer objectively in relation to the other details of the account, before committing yourself and signing on the dotted line.

The same goes for contents insurance, which you may have to take out if you are looking to live in private rental accommodation. While landlords and estate agents may insist you have this, it’s worth bearing in mind that many home insurance policies include an allowance for children studying temporarily away from home. To avoid being covered twice, ask your parents to check the details of their home policy with their insurance provider, and take a copy of the policy with you. For students living in halls, ask your university what level of cover they will provide for your personal belongings.

Having established if you need insurance, you will then need to look around for the best policy for your individual circumstances.

When seeking quotes make sure to list any expensive items, such as laptops, mobile phones and cameras individually, as well as looking into whether the proposed policy covers these items whilst you are away from home. Make sure that you are comparing policies like for like, looking closely at the level of ‘excess’ fees that you would need to cover yourself in the event of any claim, and not getting sucked in to a less favourable policy because of a tempting offer of a freebie.

Another thing worth considering is that insurance does not provide any real protection for your belongings, and if you are shown to be negligent in some way your ability to claim for loss or theft of items may be jeopardised.

For example, leaving the house without fully locking the doors and windows may invalidate your ability to get money back if your belongings are then stolen. Make sure to read your insurance policy carefully before you sign, to find out what your obligations and responsibilities will be.

There are plenty of good deals to be had out there, but finding them does require a little time. It’s a sensible investment though, and while it may help to seek advice from others, you should resist the temptation of going for something simply because your friend is doing the same.

Their circumstances might be very different to yours, and as only you know what the right option for you is, it really does need to be your decision.

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