Free from weekly food shopping and frequent nights out, summer at home may at first present itself as a period of saving, your bank balance recovering from a year at university. However, these few months can unexpectedly hit us financially. This is how to deal with this sudden influx of expenses.
During term time, our primary expenses include accommodation payments (whether that be a monthly payment or a lump sum), groceries and essentials, and those nights out where you cannot quite understand how you spent so much. Despite this, there’s a certain amount of expectation with regards to these expenses, as we know when rent will be taken from our accounts, and how much we spend on food on a weekly basis. Evenly spaced out Student Finance instalments also make term time more secure, as even in times of financial strain, we can be reassured that a payment is just around the corner.
Compare this to a summer at home. For the majority of us, responsibility for the food shop is handed back to our parents, they will hopefully let us slide by not paying rent, and we don’t have to look after ourselves as much anymore. Moreover, working over the summer gives our accounts a boost that term time did not provide, thus giving us disposable income once again.
On the surface, this seems fantastic with regards to money and remaining afloat of expenses. But what we didn’t anticipate was that there are unexpected costs lurking, with the potential to destroy our carefree fun in the sun…
- Accommodation for the following year
For existing university students, the likely case for next year will be living in private rented accommodation. Contracts tend to start at the beginning of the summer, and after all those pesky admin fees and deposits have been paid, we then have to pay rent for a property that for the majority will not be in use for the summer! Furthermore, necessities such as a TV licence, broadband, gas, electric and water add to this vacuum on our money.Unfortunately, this is practically unavoidable, unless you can persuade the landlord or lettings agent to reduce the rent for the duration of the summer, which is a challenging feat. The only method of dealing with this annoyance is just to think that everything, such as knowing when the bills need to be paid, will be running smoothly ready for actually moving in, getting the stress over now as opposed to when courses begin. Also, if your bills are firstly paid using an estimate of usage rather than paying for what you use, you will most likely receive a refund upon the reading of the meters, as long as you’re careful about how much you’re using.
- Course books
Receiving reading lists for next year can be exciting, seeing what you’re actually going to be studying next semester, and planning to get ahead with studying before term time, even if this well-meaning intention fails. But, the arrival of these lists also represents another monumental expense: purchasing the books. Textbooks are inexplicably pricey, with many costing £30-£60 for a single tome! What worsens this situation is that most modules require a specific edition of the work, removing the possibility of buying a positively ancient copy in order to save money. As a result, students are expected to fork out hundreds of pounds on books that they may not even keep after their degree, sucking up more and more of our precious pennies. A thrifty tip to keep in mind is, if buying texts from an online seller such as Amazon, look out for second hand copies from alternative dealers. Although the postage and packaging on these items is often costly, the total price is usually far less than buying brand new books direct from the website.
- Local nights out
A night out at home without the comfort of 99p drinks in Popworld can cost an awful lot. Not only is it socially unacceptable to hit the town on a weeknight anymore, but the beverages are triple the price of what we’re used to. Entry to bars and clubs seems completely unreasonable, even if it’s what we were paying before we started university. My advice for this one is very simple: pre-drink. Obviously not to the extent where the expensive entry is forbidden to you as you’re being propped up by your friends and shouting at traffic cones, but just enough so you don’t have to tank up on £5 pints. Or, try exchanging the town scene for a night in, it’ll give you a chance to catch up with everyone you’ve missed whilst being at university, plus reducing the damage to your purse and liver.
- The lack of Student Finance
Despite having previously praised the timings of our Student Finance payments, the absence of a payment in the summer months is a real loss. To keep up with the cost of everything I’ve discussed so far, I strongly recommend trying to get some form of employment for a few months. Not only will it replenish your bank balance, but it will also get you out of the house in order to prevent vegetation when you have nothing to do. If you had a job before university, try asking if they’ll have you back for a while, or try something completely new where you can learn new skills and meet new people.
Hopefully at least some of this has been relevant to your personal situation, and I hope that your summer is not too much of a strain on your finances. If all fails then just remember…Student Finance arrives in a few months.