Being a student is expensive. And we’re not even going to talk about the recent hikes in student loans that have hit our nation’s younger generation.

The average student spends £790 per month, according to Save The Students 2016 Student Money Survey. While the largest chunk (£385) goes toward rent or student accommodation, food and socialising come in 2nd and 3rd place, making up a combined total of £188 or 24% of their total budget. This is more than the average student spend on bills, clothing, or course books.

Part and parcel

Partying is part and parcel of a students lifestyle, and there’s a lot to be said for its role within the life-changing experience that is university. While many parents may not want to admit it out loud, most reflect on their own younger years with fondness and recall how these formative years of socialising helped them to become the people they are today.

University is a based on the ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality, but this ideology can play havoc with students bank accounts. 67% of students worry about repayments on student loans, yet 1 in 3 state they feel parents don’t give enough financial support. It is likely that this is not for want of trying – many students stated within the survey that they find it hard to “ask parents for extra finance especially when the bulk of [their] expenditure go on socialising and drinking”.

Avoiding danger

Perhaps it is time for parents to stop treating their children as children, and instead talking to them as young adults who have made the decision to study for their future while maintaining their social life. At this stage of their lives, it is reasonable for them to want the best of both worlds – they will have many years of nights in on the sofa, in front of the TV, ahead of them. Now are the days to dance the night away, before heading home as safely as possible in a taxi.

But for most parents, this presents a dilemma. If the money isn’t in the bank to fund a round of beers, how will their son or daughter keep up with their peers. The findings in the 2016 study are scary. 1 in 10 students resort to gambling or selling their body for emergency cash. Both of these methods carry their own risks, not to mention the emotional fall out. Some go to even more obscure lengths:

  • Checking for pound coins left in supermarket trolleys and thereafter pushing the trolleys to their point of storage
  • Buying used study books on eBay and selling to the University book shop for a profit
  • Taking bets for eating/drinking unsavoury items from friends
  • Selling videos of just their feet dancing (no joke)

But should they just bankroll their child – if so, how much? What should the funds be spent on? Is their son or daughter expected to notify them when they need more help, or should there be a regular monthly payment made? What if you give them too much and they’re seen as flash among their peers? It’s a mind field in what can already be a tense time in parent-child relationships.

Ringfenced funds

For many parents, the worry of providing a child just making their way in to the big world alone with cash is just what else it may be spent on rather than taxi’s and a weak woo-woo cocktail at the student union. No parent wants to feel responsible for buying the whole friendship group a round or, even worse, drug taking.

Prepaid card can provide students with the funds to get home safely, whilst giving parents the visibility of online statements to ensure funds are being spent responsibly, according to whatever ground rules are agreed within the family. Your child can now get that drink on Wednesdays sports night without endangering their lives by walking home mid-winter on the darkest of nights, and you can sleep easy knowing they’re building the adult they will become in the future.