Top 15 student money mistakes

Current undergrads are confessing their financial sins.

Better not be too harsh on them, though – they’re also offering some good old advice on how you can be better with your money.

Whether you want to trust them, though, is a whole other question.

The number one tip from the current second, third and fourth year students, who were questioned by Go Compare, is to make a budget and stick to it – which we happen to think is pretty good advice.

The students name their top three financial mistakes as spending too much money on nights out (29%) and takeaways/ready meals (28%), as well as failing to resist temptation when clothes shopping (25%).

Others named too many impulse purchases (20%), lending money to unreliable friends (18%) and failing to budget (17%) as their biggest regrets.

The survey also revealed that only 53% feel that they manage their money well, whilst 23% feel that they have made “a lot of mistakes” financially and 19% say that they are “seriously worried” about their financial situation.

Unsurprisingly, undergraduates studying maths, accountancy and finance degrees were most confident about their money management skills, with 65% thinking they had managed their finances well, while language (including English) students were the least confident (43%).

The top 15 monetary errors made by students were:

I spent too much on nights out

I spent too much on take-outs and ready meals

I spent too much on clothes

I made too many impulse purchases

I lent money to friends and didn’t get it back

I failed to budget properly

I didn’t choose the right student bank account

I didn’t shop around for the best deals

I paid too much for my accommodation

When choosing a student account, I went for the best freebie rather than the best account

I lost track of my overall spending on plastic cards

I spent too much on credit cards

I paid too much for my mobile phone

I didn’t have a pre-arranged overdraft or I went over my overdraft limit

I ignored credit card payments and incurred penalties

To stop others falling into the same financial traps, the 1,000 students questioned came up with the following essential pieces of advice:

Make a budget and stick to it (49%)

Shop around for the best deals (47%)

Don’t use credit cards (39%)

Avoid payday loans (37%)

Don’t ignore letters from your bank (35%)

Be honest with your parents about your finances (33%)

Don’t lend money to friends (31%)

Get contents insurance for your possessions (22%)

Take care in choosing the right student bank account (21%)

Talk to your bank or credit card provider as soon as you get into trouble (21%)

Claire Peate, customer insight manager from Go Compare, says: “For most students, going to university is their first experience of living away from home and managing their own finances, so it’s perhaps inevitable they will make some mistakes.

“But the students taking part in our survey have shared some good advice – make a budget, spend sensibly by shopping around for the best deals, don’t ignore money troubles as you’ll only compound the problem, and take care in choosing a student bank account.

“If you find that your spending exceeds your budget – don’t bury your head in the sand. Ignoring letters from your bank or credit card provider will only make matters worse as charges for unauthorised spending can be punishing. Talk to your bank or credit card provider because you’ll usually pay less in fees and charges if you formally arrange for your overdraft or spending limits to be increased.”

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