Tips To Stretch Your Student Budget
According to The Guardian your living costs as a student will be in the region of pound;7,000 a year (more if you study in London), according to government figures, although some universities suggest a minimum budget of pound;8,000. Of course there are scholarships available to students who come from families on very low incomes and most students end up getting a part time job.
A separate article also from The Guardian says that four out of 10 students – 750,000 undergraduates – have a job while they study. But you shouldn’t work too hard, say the experts. Try to keep it to less than 15 hours a week in term time./em Some banks offer interest free loans but Kate White, the head of student advice and welfare at the University of West of England suggests you look carefully into how you are going to pay any loans back.
Tricia Joyce, student financial support manager at Manchester Metro University says, managing your budget is a vital skill. Students only have three paydays -; one at the beginning of each term. It can be difficult to ensure the money lasts until the start of the next term. When you embark on student life, that first rush of freedom can leave an already-small budget even more depleted.
Tips To Stretch Your Student Budget
Learning to handle finances and get into your budgeting stride can take a while, so it makes sense to arm yourself with some sensible strategies from the off.
As long as the information’s all present and correct, a few dog-eared pages and the odd pencil mark doesn’t matter a jot – in fact, past annotations can often be illuminating. Many universities have campus shops which sell on second-hand books at vastly reduced prices, or you could try placing an ad on the intranet or trawling Amazon and Ebay. Do, however, ensure all pages are present and correct, and you obtain an edition that’s current enough to include up-to-date information on key studies and new technology so you don’t miss out.
If your course entails significant materials costs, find out whether you can access funds to help with these. Research whether you can hire some items rather than purchasing, or perhaps pool funds with fellow students and either buy in bulk or share resources. Seek out warehouses and websites that deal in your subject area and sign up for updates and alerts on sales and end-of-line stock. Remember – as long as they’re fit for purpose, materials don’t need to be flashy or expensive.
Pooling money and time when it comes to chores, services and shopping can help stretch budgets, making those things inaccessible on a single revenue stream within reach. If you share a house, seek out an internet, television and phone deal you all contribute to, and divide housework via a rota – freeing up time for extra shifts to bring in extra cash! Even if you don’t live together, pair up with pals for food shopping and funds for nights in or out.
Spend a day scouting out the immediate area to home and uni for cheap places to eat. Look for those offering varied, somewhat healthy food that are a pleasure to eat rather than junk food joints with a few banal meal deals on permanent discount. Buffets at Asian restaurants are good options, and small independent cafes and neighbourhood restaurants often offer student-friendly set meals and happy hours in order to compete with chains for custom.
Learn to cook
A few basic kitchen skills will perhaps save you more money than anything else. Eating on-the-go can eat into a shoestring budget significantly, and even small swaps like carrying a flask of coffee instead of buying a daily cup or making a packed lunch over going to the canteen can add up to big savings. Larder ingredients like pasta and rice can be bought in bulk for far less than a single serving from a takeaway, will last longer, and can be prepared in endless ways.
As a student, you’ll have access to numerous discounts everywhere from high-street shops to stately homes. Sign up for an NUS card and carry it with you – you never know when you’ll encounter a saving merely by flashing your card. Google student deals in your area, and always ask if you’re eligible for a discount when paying an entry fee or a bill. Make use of your SU bar, where drinks, snacks and entertainment should be heavily subsidised.
As a student, you can obtain a railcard which provides discount fares on nationwide travel. But there’s also the option of reducing travel costs whilst getting fit – could you cycle, walk, run or even rollerblade rather than jumping on a bus or in the car? For longer journeys, many bus companies provide extremely competitive fares which compare incredibly favourably against either driving or taking the train.
Make ‘free’ your mantra
When it comes to fitness, leisure and cultural entertainment, there’s actually not much you need to pay for. Running or exercising at home can replace pricey gym membership; comedy night, quiz nights and free festivals are abundant; and free exhibitions and lectures are as diverse and illuminating as costly counterparts. Great days out don’t have to involve cash – try exploring a market, visiting local historic buildings and galleries, having a picnic or going to a fete.
Plan to plan
Use a free budgeting app, notebook or wall chart to account for and chart your outgoings. Plan what you can and can’t afford, and stick to it religiously. Ensure the money going out really does need to – get spending savvy by researching the best consumer deals on Which? and other service review forums, and try to negotiate contracts if they’re excessive.
Kitty Hastings is a lifestyle journalist from London with years of experience writing about personal finance, fashion and food. She personally uses the mobile banking app by Eccount Money, a leading UK provider of basic bank accounts geared towards people struggling with money issues. When Kitty isn’t writing for on- and offline publications across the UK, she loves nothing more than relaxing cup of tea and a great book.
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