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Managing your money can be time consuming and tedious, but with personal finance software your finances can be organised.You can look to the future knowing you have enough money to take care of life's needs.

Through our personal finance software you can bank online, using income and expense transactions, set budgets against expense and income categories, and produce reports, giving you a clear indication of where your money has been, where it is and where it is going.

Save pounds without a crash course diet, and without even changing gas and electricity providers.

Price cuts have been coming thick and fast over the last few months, which has been great news for gas and electricity customers who are willing to move to a new provider to get a better deal.

It seems to be a common misconception that when a gas and electricity provider introduces a new cheaper product, they automatically put their existing customers on this improved rate. Well, that's not true - while new customers are given every incentive to sign up, existing customers will generally continue to pay out more unless they are willing to do something about it.

A quick telephone call to your existing gas and electricity provider could be invaluable. Ask to be put on the most cost effective tariff, and you could save a small fortune.

Going to university can be an expensive business and looking after your finances is vital. Our guide to student banking and finance covers banking and budgeting and touches on debt and ways to get help should you be experiencing financial difficulties.

Student debt is a serious issue for anyone considering going to university. Statistics show that the average student leaves their studies behind some £13,000 in the red - a sum of money they could be paying off for more than twenty years. As a consequence graduates are no longer thinking simply about where to go and what to study, but whether they can cope with the financial strain of university life.

However, the fact is that millions do cope and to help your cause have compiled a guide to student banking and finance. We aim to point you in the right direction so you can deal with the monetary strain, allowing you to concentrate on your studies and university life. Our guide deals with the basics of banking and finance - here in part one we take a look at banking and budgeting whilst in part two we deal with finance, debt and ways to save.

Student finance, student debt and ways to save Part 2

The importance of a budget

Pre-preparing a budget may help you keep a tight grip on your finances. It's crucial to take everything into account as money will be extremely tight. Think beyond the obvious major outlays such as rent, bills, books and food and think about the smaller expenses that will quickly add-up. Think about the costs of using your mobile phone (including texts), printing, photo-copying, using public transport and factor in those inevitable night-outs. The more you can plan for the better.

Use BankTree personal finance software, to help you to set up your budget. Create categories for your expenses, rent, bills, food etc, and assign a budget based on what you think you can afford. Add income and expenditure items against each budget category. Use the budget report to see how much you have been spending on each catagory. If you have been spending too much then obviously cut down on the few non-essential things.

Budgeting is a vital tool not just at university, but in life. Thinking ahead and sticking closely to your plan is crucial if you are to avoid student debt.

Your cost of living

You can also use BankTree personal finance software to set up and manage your future expendiure, take the following example:

Income for term - This will include parental contributions, a student loan (usually about £1,250) and a wage from a part-time job.

Term expenditure - This will include rent (usually about £800), books, clothes, CDs, etc - larger sums that you will spend over the course of a term.

Weekly expenditure - This should factor in the essentials and non-essentials, so food, leisure, travel, household bills and more.

You can set up schedule transactions within BankTree personal finance software over a 12 month period for example. By having the above transactions reccuring over the 12 month period, you know how much to budget for every month or when to give your self the odd treat, dont forget to reserve some cash for emergencies.

Part-time work

Though many like to claim that students are work-shy the opposite is often true as many young people hold down part-time jobs to ease financial worries in addition to dealing with their studies. Of course work should never come ahead of study, but if you can cope with perhaps a weekend job or even work through the holidays it is a great way to boost your income.

Help is available. Many universities have job shops connecting students to local employers and there are often special initiatives in place. The National Council for Work Experience has details about how your local institution can help. You can also search for jobs online through companies such as Jobcentreplus, and DirectGov.

Parental/additional support

OK not everyone has rich parents and asking for money is not an easy thing to do. However, any additional support is welcome and will help to ease the student finance burden. Why not ask family members to buy your books for example?

Also look to outside sources for sponsorship. Do you know anyone who works for a large local company? Is there someone in the industry you are looking to join who has spotted your potential and would be prepared to support your cause? Or are you a member of a social group who might be able to contribute? As the old phrase goes, if you don't ask, you don't get - and you might just be pleasantly surprised!

No matter what your chosen subject may be, for many students it makes sense to become financially savvy. At university budgeting will be tight and you will have to learn quickly about juggling daily expenses with household bills and income from loans. Just like with an exam, revision is the key. If you know what you're getting into you'll produce better results. Learning about student current accounts, student loans, student credit cards and to be wary of consolidating student loans will help your cause.

To make student life easier it's necessary to think beyond your student loan and be prepared to go that extra mile to improve your income and cut your costs.

Student banking and budgeting Part 1

Student Loans

Perhaps the easiest way to help your budget is to increase your income through a student loan. Students can defer payments on the £3,000/year tuition fee until they are earning £15,000/year in employment through a tuition fee loan with the Student Loans Company. For more details contact your local authority.

In addition, student loans are available to assist with living and study expenses. These usually amount to about £1,250/term. Again the loans do not have to be paid back until you are earning £15,000/year but this does not mean you should treat the loans with anything but respect. Remember their purpose and be careful not to spend excessively on unnecessary items as soon as you receive the loan. It has to last you for the course of the term and ultimately you have to pay it back.

Where to go for help with debt or finance

Hopefully by reading this guide this student banking and finance you'll have learned the importance of a budget, useful ways to save and add to your income. However, we realise that the more help and advice you can get the better, which is why we have compiled a list of useful contacts for you to consider.

The first stop for help should be your student union representative. They will be able to deal with your needs directly and offer advice. However, there are many additional outside sources to consider:

DfEs - The Department for Education and skills offers student support.

LEAs - For a full list of local education authorities.

Student Loan Company - All you need to know about student loans.

Support for Learning - Information on money management and student loans.

Ways to save

Take advantage of every offer available on the things you need. Whether it's two-for-one at the local supermarket, cutting out coupons, every penny counts - especially when a tin of baked beans can cost as little as 9p!

Car insurance - Running a car is expensive at the best of times and at university it is probably best to stick to local transport wherever possible. However, if you have a car already you need to get the best deals available. With younger drivers making more claims than their more experienced counterparts premiums are high, but many companies now offer young drivers car insurance with flexible payment options. Consider having a parent as a named driver.

Travel insurance - Specific policies are now available for those who plan to take a gap year.

Student banking/current accounts - These generally have interest-free overdraft facilities, a student adviser service, incentives such as gift vouchers.

Student credit card - A credit card should be a last resort, however if you find it necessary to take one out seek advice and use make sure you get a good deal. Remember however, that failing to meet payments on loans and credit cards can seriously damage your credit rating. If your debts are already out of hand contact the Citizen's Advice Bureau immediately.

Hopefully you now feel well-equipped to deal with the issues of student finance. Remember at all times that help is available and you're not alone - millions are coping and you can too.

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