8 Surprising must-haves to add to your university checklist

8 Surprising must-haves to add to your university checklist
Written by Sarah Banks
Published on 19th September 2017
Updated on 3rd December 2019
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Moving away from home and into student accommodation is so exciting, but before you do, make sure you prepare and think carefully about what to take to uni. Creating a student checklist helps to ensure that you’ve organised all of your university essentials ready to take with you.

We’ve started you off with a few things you’ll need to do or take that you might not have considered in all the excitement.

1. Look after your belongings with student insurance

It’s a sad but true fact that students sometimes experience a robbery or burglary during their time at university, so making sure your contents are covered is a smart thing to do.

Basic student insurance protects your house or halls from loss, general damage and water damage as well as crime, but where can you find the best \(and cheapest) insurance?

Check out comparison sites online for the best deals \(you might even get extra benefits for doing so). There are also some providers that offer specialised student insurance. Don’t forget to visit your freshers fair, as you’ll almost certainly find information there, too.

2. A student bank account

If you don’t already have a student bank account, now is the time to set one up. Some banks will try to tempt you with additional benefits such as interest-free overdraft allowances. Keep an eye out for benefits like cheap rail cards, cashback and online banking.

Take the time to consider these incentives and think about what’s best for you before signing up. Certain incentives may not benefit you and your lifestyle and you don’t want to end up with problems further down the line as a result.

3. A student credit card

By managing your maintenance loan and other finances efficiently during your time at uni, you’ll benefit from having built up your credit score in the process. You’ll need this when you apply for credit in the future, including mortgages. Using a student credit card responsibly can help you prove to providers that you’re trustworthy and can pay your balance each month.

Some banks will offer 0% interest as an introductory period, but you’ll then be hit with their representative APR. With credit cards, it pays to think long-term.

4. Student overdrafts

A student overdraft is often at the top of every university checklist. Although it can help cover your outgoings short-term, you shouldn’t rely on it in the long run. Use it as an opportunity to learn how to manage your money and build your credit history. Speak to your bank to find out if you’re eligible for one with your student account.

5. Check student council tax discounts

Good news! If you’re classed as a full-time student then you won’t need to pay council tax on your university residence. Make sure you speak to the council and let them know so that there aren’t any unexpected reminder letters dropping on your doorstep.

6. Secure a great budgeting app

An absolute university essential is downloading a budgeting app. With it, you’ll be able to keep track of your loan, any income from part time jobs and your outgoings. Although you’ll want to have fun at uni, you should try your best to be responsible with money - your future self will thank you for it. If you’re not the technology type then a student budget sheet might suit you better.

Many worry about dipping too far into the red. If you’re one of these then applying for a prepaid card might be a good idea. Simply top up with your disposable cash each month and set yourself a limit - what’s more, many don’t have a monthly fee.

7. Grab your student discount card

Take advantage of the NUS student card. Although it does come with an annual cost, you’ll easily save more than you initially spend. Use it for discounts on entertainment, eating out and high street shops. You can even get money off your weekly shop if you pop down to The Co-op.

8. Find the best deals on travel

Something you can add to your student checklist is finding out about travel in your new local area. Avoid splashing out on taxis and make sure you familiarise yourself with the local bus routes, cycle paths or walkways.

Many public transport providers have deals on weekly, monthly or annual passes. While the initial cost might be fairly high, you’ll save in the long run and won’t have to worry about scrabbling down the back of the sofa for change if you’re strapped for cash.

If you need help or advice during freshers week or your studies, then you can always speak to your university, who will have advisors in place to help.

Putting together a list of university essentials before you head off ensures that you start off on the right path financially. Learning to manage your money early on will allow you to have a great time at uni and is an essential skill for later on in life.

Find a bank account

Looking for a student bank account? Have a look at the Choose Wisely comparison table to get a great deal.

Sarah Banks
Written by
Sarah Banks
Finance writer at Choose Wisely

Sarah joined Choose Wisely in July 2017, whilst still studying for her degree. Learning the ropes across different departments in the business including Customer Service Advisor for a period of time- making her the company’s closest link to their consumers experience with their finances.