This post was written by a member of the Debut Contributor Network. The reserves may be running low but Hannah Miller is here with some ways you can make your student loan stretch till next term.
We can all agree that student loans are in need of some serious improvement, as many students across the country struggle with paying rent, buying food and textbooks, and travelling back home for the holidays. As students, when that large sum of money drops into your account, it’s hard to control yourself and, while the temptation to blow it all on ASOS and alcohol is strong, you need to be stronger. All you need to do is plan and budget.
Once I find out how much money I am entitled to each semester, I immediately calculate how much of that will be spent on rent and bills, as this is my top priority and takes away the majority of my loan. After this, I am able to work out a monthly budget.
Creating a budget isn’t as scary as it seems, you just need to sit down and write down everything you’ll be paying for over the next year. I’ll show you exactly how to do this.
During my first year at university, I made the mistake of spending over £200 on textbooks. This year I decided to borrow books from the library, buying only two send-hands for £5 each on eBay. As I am studying law, the books are extremely expensive and it’s not worth buying when the library offers all of them.
This is a personal preference of course. If you want to buy your textbooks, don’t buy them new as these will be up to £40 more expensive than buying them second-hand. If you don’t mind a little bit of highlighting in your book, it’ll save you a lot of money.
I spend about £30 on food which can last up to two weeks, having my shopping delivered to me as I usually order with my housemate. I’m trying to not order many takeaways this semester, something I have struggled with before. I’m being extremely strict with myself here. When I do order food, I make sure I’m getting a discount or buying with someone else. My housemate and I usually take turns paying.
With food shopping itself, I plan ahead what meals I will be eating. I have a lot of food in the freezer, trying to buy food that is on offer.
I don’t get to go out as often as I’d like. Alcohol isn’t that much of a problem for me as I don’t drink on a weekly basis but know a lot of people who drinks sometimes daily. Pre-drinking is a great way to save money on a night out. I used to spend a lot of money buying branded Vodka, finding that Sainsbury’s own Vodka is a great alternative. I buy mixers and am hoping to start making my own cocktails at home, saving more money.
It’s extremely hard not to blow your student loan on shoes and clothes, especially when there are so many student discounts out there. My only advise here is to never pay full price for anything. I only but if I get a student discount over 25% or if it’s a sale item. I ask myself whether I really need it and, if I don’t see myself wearing it a lot, I won’t buy it.
I’m lucky enough to live only an hour away from home, meaning my dad picks me up when I want to come home. For those of you who have to travel, I recommend buying a travel card. This’ll get you a discount off travel fares and is worth the money, especially if you go home often. Travel fares tend to differ depending on what day you go home. It’s best to look at different dates, rather than buying your tickets straight away. A ticket could be up to £10 cheaper.