Going off to University is an exciting time for any student. For many it’s the first time they’ll have been away from home and it can be a daunting experience, but one that fills you with anticipation, excitement and anxiety all at the same time. For others, it could be the beginning of a whole new chapter of their lives, fending for themselves and learning the essential materials and gaining the necessary qualifications to get the first step on the ladder towards achieving their dream careers.
One of the main parts of University life, however, is learning to get through with very little money – or in some cases, none at all! Having spent the time applying for a student loan and waiting for that glorious, momentous, world-changing day that the first payment arrives in your bank account it can be very easy to forget that this money is aimed at paying for your accommodation, University course in some ways, and also what might be called “essentials” such as food and washing!
Unless you’re in the very fortunate position where the bank of mum and dad are on hand whenever they’re needed to help out with a non-returnable loan, it can be very difficult to make this money last until the next payment. For the majority of UK students, you tend to receive three payments for the academic year, one at the start, one after Christmas and one around the Easter period. However, this doesn’t tend to last very long with rental payments, textbooks, shopping and maybe a night out or two (a week) thrown into the mix. So it becomes almost vital to University survival that you learn to budget, or make your money last. Here are just three top tips towards University financial survival.
When you get your first student loan payment, you’ll have a very good idea of when the first rental payments are required. From that point on, you know how long it is until you next need to make a sizeable payment and you can budget accordingly. For example, if you subtract the rental payment from your bank account on the day it goes it, and work out how long it is until your next payment date and everything that needs to be paid out in between, you can establish just how much money you have. This can then be divided up into the number of weeks – or days – until the next loan payment and that is how much you have to spend on the likes of food and socialising. Depending on the course you might have a lot of books to pay for, and many students have turned to bank or payday loans to help pay for these with many books costing sizeable amounts, returning the money on the next loan payment date.
With it being the first time away from home and doing the food shopping yourself it can be very easy to stick to brand-name products and spend far too much. However, by only buying what you feel you need – you’re only shopping for one remember and have limited space in the cupboards, fridge and freezer – and and buying the occasional own-brand product, many of which taste just like the branded options, you can save a packet in the long term.
Return Course Essentials on Time
Finally, if you’re borrowing anything from the University – such as textbooks from the library – make sure you give them back on time! Returning books late results in charges being made and when you’re struggling for money as it is, that’s the last thing you want. Many campus libraries will allow you to extend the rental period, so make sure that you extend the rental of the book ahead of the return date to avoid any avoidable charges.
Remember, University is meant to be fun, not a constant financial worry!