One of Britain’s top stock brokers, Justin Urquhart Stewart, hypothetically went back to university recently to raise three key points of financial advice he believes would have helped him to prevent the ‘stupidity’ that left him with years of crippling debt. Despite having his tuition fees subsidised by a once generous state system, Stewart still managed to rack up ‘self-inflicted debt’ and when he graduated with an admittedly mediocre degree, he still had very little understanding of financial matters.
He divided his advice into three main sections: how money grows, living costs and financial family planning. By advising students and graduates on the financial facts of life, which he claims they are oblivious to, he hopes to prepare them for the world they are to face post-university.
It’s no doubt that Stewart, the co-founder and director of Steven Investment Management, had good intentions. However, beginning his lecture by stating that ‘attention spans are short for most students’ was probably not the best way to engage supposedly financially naïve young people.
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Admittedly Yahoo’s headline – ‘three things I would tell my 18 year old self’ – didn’t give Stewart the chance to capture the attention of young adults. Considering it invokes the idea of a nostalgic, romanticised letter rather than something that might actually have a substantial, practical application, the article gives the wrong impression right from the start.
If students were to delve a little deeper though, they would actually find some solid advice from the successful stock broker. He offers insider tips to demonstrate the benefits of investment, and how much you’re likely to need to live off when you retire. Retirement is likely to feel insignificant when you’re in your late teens or early twenties, but the bleak situation regarding UK pensions at the moment proves the increasing importance of preparing early.
One thing Stewart does admit is that it’s becoming increasingly tough for students to avoid falling into financial difficulties whilst at university. Not only will they be crippled by debt when they leave, with most university tuition fees now costing £9,000 per year, but the cost of living in some university cities is ridiculously high.
Students studying in London receive extra funding to cover the high cost of living, but students studying in other cities don’t, despite some of them being equally as expensive as the capital. Students at the University of Surrey, located in Guildford, are faced with living costs that can equal that of London, but most students won’t receive any extra funding.
It’s easy to see why some students turn to payday loans and credit cards to fund their time at university, but for some, exercising stricter money management skills wouldn’t go a miss. Using online resources for keeping track of your finances and swotting up on money matters by regularly checking websites like Money Saving Expert will ensure you’re clued up on the ‘financial facts of life’ that Justin Urquhart Stewart deems so important.