Money can be tight during your student years, so The Student Housing Company have given us six realistic tips to make your precious loan go a little further.
We’ve all heard stories of people who have spent all of their student loan in a week, and spend the rest of the term living on a basic diet with little spending money until their next loan instalment comes through.
If you would prefer to make your loan go a little further, follow our tips for budgeting wisely so you can afford the essentials as well as a few extra treats throughout the term.
Making substitutions for your essential items can make budgeting a lot easier. Supermarkets stock a variety of products to help you make specialty coffee at home from exotic beans to coffee syrups. However, there are cheaper alternatives to the branded products that will prevent you from wasting your money.
Buying in bulk can also bring down costs. Big bags of rice, pasta and other basic foods that can be dry stored can save you money by lasting you months at a time.
It is a lot easier to overspend when you are using a credit or debit card as opposed to carrying a set amount of cash. Withdrawing money or using a chip and pin machine makes it harder to control how much you are spending.
On a night out or when shopping, take a set amount of cash with you and leave your card at home to help you stick to your budget and to make it impossible to overspend.
Coupons no longer mean collecting newspapers and clipping small sections to take to the shops. They are instead available via smartphone apps and websites such as Groupon.
When planning a day out, check the various voucher websites first to try and find an offer to help you limit how much you spend; being savvy with these sites will enable you to purchase products and days out for a fraction of the price.
Some voucher apps also provide coupons for food shopping. While writing your shopping list, check to see if any of the products you need are on offer and save the voucher to use at the supermarket without the hassle of clipping or printing.
Utilities Come First
Prioritise your spending to ensure you have everything you need before you splash the cash on the things you want. For most students living in halls; their phone, internet, gas and electricity bills are included in their weekly rent. However, once you have moved out into rented student accommodation you will need to think about how much these bills will cost, and how much of your student loan will need to be assigned to these essentials.
Shopping around to find the best price for you and your housemates can reduce the amount you spend on bills. You should also consider your mobile phone bill and transport costs; it is worth thinking about buying weekly train tickets or finding the cheapest fuel rates near you to bring the cost of transport down.
Some bills are necessities such as those discussed above. However, are less essential, for instance: gym memberships, Internet TV streaming services and magazine subscriptions. These are all bills you are electing to pay, but are these creating money leaks?
Determine whether you need them or if they are a waste of your precious pennies. If you are unsure whether you need a service then trial a month without it and if you don’t notice the difference, go on without it and plug the money leak. Keeping receipts for a week or two can also help you see where money is being spent unnecessarily and helps you keep track of where your money is actually going.
Buying books for your course should be a priority; after all you did come to university to study. However, buying all these books could become quite expensive.
In an attempt to save money wherever possible, ask older students on your course if you can purchase their old books second hand.
Budgeting doesn’t have to mean not having a life and using all of your student loan on bills and university essentials.
Spending your money wisely throughout the term might even mean you have money left over as the day of your next student loan instalment approaches. This will give you a little extra cash to play around with, that can be spent on a brilliant night out or the new gadget you’ve been eying up, without the worry of running out of money in the weeks to come.
Remember, student loans aren’t your only source of income. Why not try looking for a part time job to keep you afloat?
About the author: Emily Ware
Emily Ware is a Digital Content Writer for The Student Housing Company, providers of premium student accommodation in university cities throughout the UK including Birmingham, London and Bristol.