A sudden influx of money into your student bank account is bound to make anyone ecstatic and feel the temptation to go on a shopping spree…
(“Do you really need that…?” “Uhm, yeah? Everyone needs a new 30-inch flat-screen in their flat.”) As my friends and I would say to each other all the time: “Go TREAT yourself!”
It’s incredibly tempting and all too easy to quickly blow your entire student loan on things you probably don’t need for ‘survival’ at uni. And so, read on for our advice on making your student loan stretch to cover you for the entire term. After all, we know all too well how bad it feels to be living on instant noodles and bread for an entire week…
1. Calculate how much money you’ve got to work with.
This is probably the most sensible advice out there. Once you get your loan and grant, make sure you work out the sum of money that will be granted to you every month, and also how much you will need to spend on food, tuition fees, textbooks, travel, and stationery etc. What’s left over is what you can spend on yourself! That’s for drinks, social activities, shopping and other treats. To be even savvier, divide these into the number of weeks in a term to set yourself a weekly budget to stick to.
2. Take out cash instead of paying with your debit/credit card.
To avoid the unavoidable, why not try taking out cash instead? That way, it’s much easier to track your spending compared to just swiping your debit card nonchalantly. Doing so makes it much easier to lose track of how much you’ve spent because you’re not making substantial payments. Remember: certain banks do not notify you when you start to step into your overdraft, so be careful.
3. Put away some savings for yourself, just for emergencies.
It certainly can be a lifesaver when you put your loose change away here and there to save them for a rainy day. Stash away your spare change on you each day and watch your piggy bank fill up.
4. Download budgeting apps and keep a record on your day.
Apps like Mint can really help out students that have trouble getting an overview of their spending, getting apps like these means that the info is right there on your smartphone! Now there is no excuse not to open it up and remind yourself that ordering Domino’s Pizza 3 times a week is definitely not A-O-K.
5. Cook for yourself.
You’d be surprised at how much money you could save by just buying all the ingredients yourself and start up a cooking sesh with your flatmates. Economical, and a fun bonding experience all in one*.
*Above advice is intended for those who are somewhat adept at the culinary art and can whip up edible and semi-tasty meals. If you do not possess the above skill, please scroll down to number 6.
6. Get a student discount card.
One of the biggest perks of being a student is the sheer number of discounts you are entitled to. Ever heard of the Totum Extra Card? Or, if your University offers its own student discount memberships, make sure you take full advantage of it! There are usually offers on dining, shopping and more, both in-store and online. Or just simply bring your student ID with you whenever you’re out and about.
7. Get a Railway Card.
I could rant about how overpriced public transport is all day long, or I could just let you know that you can buy yourself a 16 to 25 Railway Card that will save you 1/3 of the ticket price. This is especially helpful if you require rail travel to your university town, or even if you just want to hop on a train for an impromptu trip to a nearby city.
P.S. Make sure you actually take the card along with you on your travels.
8. Visit a student finance adviser.
Your student union and the student funding are there for you whenever you need some advice on the correct way to budget your student loan. The university financial services can grant you some emergency funding if you really need it. So, don’t be shy; ask for help if you really feel you need it.
9. Don’t give in to peer pressure.
Yeah, we get it, you are more likely to conform to something if all your friends are doing it too. However, keep in mind that you also need to save some dosh from time to time, and cannot afford to go out every weekend. Don’t waste your money on something just because all your friends are egging you on to buy it; everyone has a different budget!
10. Priorities, priorities, priorities.
There are two kinds of people in this world: ones that step off the groceries bus with armfuls of hard liquor and crates of beers; and then there are also people who are carrying bagfuls of actual groceries. Make sure you understand what categorises as ‘essential’ and ‘absolutely necessary’. (And no, I don’t mean that life-size cut-out of Nicholas Cage or whatever else you stumbled across on Amazon Prime.)
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