Encourage your son or daughter to learn how to budget before starting at university or college. It can be tempting to spend their money without planning for expenses, so teaching them how to manage their money is an important skill both for university and in later life.
Students are increasingly having to find a paid job to help with the costs of university life. The extra income helps to pay for necessities, to reduce borrowing, to maintain a social life, to buy clothes and to gain skills for life after university or college. Using a part-time job to cut down on borrowing is a great idea, as it reduces the debt that will be waiting to be paid off after graduation.
How many hours students are currently working each week during term-time is not really certain. Some institutions advise that students should not work more than 10 hours a week, and there are others that set a higher recommended limit of 15 hours a week. There is no doubt that some students exceed even 15 hours a week.
There can be difficulties balancing these two commitments. Although they might not miss lectures and seminars, be aware that they could have problems with tiredness, stress and pressure on study time.
There are different bank accounts available so your son or daughter should shop around to find the best deal to suit their needs, like an interest-free overdraft or online banking service. It's important to know which banks will be accessible to them when at university or college, so get them to check that there's a branch on or near to their campus. More about choosing a bank account (this will take you to the students' section)
There are more costs than just tuition fees and accommodation, like food (if your son or daughter is not living in catered halls), travel costs, insurance, course requirements (books, equipment etc), bills and leisure activities. Make sure they know what they will need, how much it will be, and how they will pay for it. Our budget calculator in the students' section of this site will help your son or daughter to balance their income and expenditure.
It is easy to spend money quickly and much harder to pay it off. A debt created from an overdraft or credit card can take months or even years to pay off, so imagine an overdraft, loan, and debts from a credit card and half a dozen store cards.
If your son or daughter does run into problems, help them work out what they can live without or what they can cut back on so that they make savings and avoid getting into too much debt. Many people believe that taking out yet another loan to pay off previous debts will help, but this can make matters worse as they could end up paying more interest on the new loan.
The best way to tackle debt is to set up a payment plan: advise your son or daughter to put in a realistic amount each week or month and work out how long it will take to pay it off. This way, they can avoid the stress of debt, and focus on studying.
For free confidential advice about how to deal with debt problems, you can use the National Debtline website, www.nationaldebtline.co.uk or contact the Citizens Advice Bureau, www.citizensadvice.org.uk.