This post was written by an external contributor. If you’re in your student overdraft, don’t panic. Devin Thomas has some tips to help you out.
Many students – like myself – have probably had a year fraught with financial insecurity. Even when student loans come in, I’m £1000+ into my overdraft, and I know I’m not the only one. Students struggling to make it through several years of expensive city living may feel like they’re drowning in debt before the loan repayments have even kicked in.
To help with that, here are five ways you can help yourself to survive life deep in overdraft.
Save wherever possible
Saving money at university is not easy, and getting really good at it is a long process. If you’re already far into your overdraft, chances are you haven’t been utilising this tip, even though it’s well-treaded territory on Debut, to the greatest extent – and that’s okay!
Spending money on yourself every once in a while is necessary to stay sane. However, you can still enjoy your student life frugally. You could bulk-buy your pasta at the start of term, or visit Aldi for deals on cheap beer that’s still high percentage and doesn’t taste awful, or start buying local microbreweries’ beers when out at the pub instead of the more expensive pints.
Saving a little here and there will start to add up, and your bank account will show it.
Work for your degree
University is a lot of work all on its own. Therefore it can be difficult to force yourself to do anything work-related that isn’t course essential. If you’re really backed into a corner with your overdraft, you need to start thinking about income before graduation.
A flexible-hours contract (or in some cases as zero hours) will generally allow you to choose hours around your studies. I recommend working some weekends and making a little cash to pay for the fun things whenever your workload will allow it.
Apply for funding
This tip may not apply to all students, as not everyone has a lot of options for extra funding. However, a lot of areas give grants to students going to university just based on where they used to live. Charities and groups through your university may also be able to assist if you email them and explain the situation.
It’s especially worth doing if you come from a background that makes it more difficult to afford university. Many grants are designed to help disadvantaged and minority students make it through their degrees. Students have funded Oxford degrees using grants and funding that can’t be found on the student finance website. Look into this, and you may be pleasantly surprised.
Stand up for your tenant’s rights
Tenancy can be a ridiculous affair, and deposits can be taken and held indefinitely. This is a common problem for many students who are no doubt chasing deposits months after a contract has ended.
It may be surprising to students who’ve had run-ins with finicky landlords, but they generally don’t really know what they’re talking about – and when they do, they sometimes lie to students anyway to try to squeeze every penny from their already diminished bank accounts.
There are some great resources on hand though to help you identify whether you’re being conned. Shelter are a great organisation that helps you easily check your own – and your landlord’s – legal rights. It’s easy to win arguments over blu-tack on walls when you have a handy legal web-page to link, and Shelter is a great resource for this.
ACORN, a tenants’ union that you’ve probably heard about from your most left-wing friends, is a similarly great support network and resource. It’s also worth popping down to your union and seeing what resources they have available. Go to these places for help, and you’ll likely get back a bigger proportion of your deposit than you ever anticipated.
Don’t lose hope
It can feel awful when there are seemingly no places left to turn for financial support and you can’t afford the basic things. Recently, I hit the point at which I had less than £6 left in my overdraft. Knowing I couldn’t afford a single week’s food was terrifying. If you’re in a similar position, it’s important to remember that there is always somewhere else to turn.
Hopefully this article has left you with a better idea of what to do when you’re in a difficult position, and the tools you need to scrimp and save your way to graduation.