- By Eve Stanger
Living on a student budget can be tough. You’re free from your parents, but gone are the home comforts and instead you’re stuck with a student loan and thousands of pounds of rent to pay. Be prepared, have a plan and follow these tips to ensure that you make the most of your student loan.
BOOKS: Chances are your university will supply you with a never-ending list of core reading but there is no need to buy these books full price. Check to see if your university is doing a book sale or on websites such as abebooks.com or sellstudentstuff.com. Equally, university gives you access to huge libraries – likely to have any book you need. You just have to make sure you get there before the other 200 people on your course do.
CLOTHES: With thousands of pounds suddenly in your account it can be difficult to resist a spending spree to give your wardrobe a new look but remember this money has to last the year. Most major clothes shops will offer at least a 10% discount on all items when you present your NUS card. But try to budget a small amount for total clothes spending for the year…or pop down to Oxfam and call it student chic.
KITCHEN: Buying kitchen items such as washing up liquid and kitchen towels can really add up over the year, but to minimise this get together with your housemates and buy in bulk together or split the cost of such essentials. When buying plates and cutlery buy something cheap but distinctive, a distinctive set of cutlery will avoid it getting lost or ‘borrowed.’ Chances are one or two of your plates will end up broken so definitely don’t take Mum’s best China.
FOOD: Don’t go food shopping when you’re hungry and don’t be tricked into every 3 for 2 deal on offer and end up with a cupboard full on unopened tins of beans. As a student you are in no position to snub value or supermarket own brands so make the most of them. Look into the possibility of a reward or club card, these become really valuable for the weekly shop.
TRAVEL: Know your bus prices. Many buses across the country will not offer change and you don’t want to be forced to give the driver that extra 20p or keep the whole bus waiting as your friends try to find your fare between them. Make sure you sign up for a Young Person’s Railcard at the beginning of term, for £30 and then 33% off all rail journeys you can’t go wrong.
OFFERS: Keep an eye out for deals and offers that are exclusive to students, why not make the most of these opportunities while you still can? Many places will offer student nights several times a week with competitive prices. Consider websites such as studentbeans.com that find all the best offers available to students – from half price pizza from the chance to win an iPad.
BANK: Starting a Student Account is definitely something to consider, with many offering incentives such as free rail cards when you sign up. Student Accounts could give you the benefit of a safety net in the form of a free overdraft which may be useful one day. Why you’re there why not set up a savings account? By putting aside a small amount of money a month you’ll have a good sum of money at the time of term as a contingency, for a deposit for a house or just to spend in the summer sales.
JOBS: Depending on your timetable getting a job is definitely an option to consider, with 50% of students deciding to do so. There will be hundreds of jobs available on campus at the SU, from volunteering for psychology experiments to pulling pints in the SU bar, so look out for these for flexible employment close to home. Alternatively, step outside the bubble and look to the local towns where there’ll be even more employers seeking students like you.