This original article was first published here: How Can Students Make Their Student Loans Stretch?
Hot take of the day: students are some of the best budgeters out there.
You heard right – while everyone is busy being jealous of the supposed layabout lifestyle the stereotypical student enjoys, each and everyone has a big task on their hands when it comes to financial management. After all, the absolute maximum maintenance loan a student can get for the year is £9,203. Ask any grown adult to live on that amount and they’ll whimper with fear.
Making your student loan go as far enough to eat, pay your bills and actually have a good time while at university is no mean feat. If you’re wondering how to manage, here are six ways to help your loan go further and keep you living that frugal life that everyone is so jealous of.
Find a bit of work on the side
First, to burst that bubble that every student is lazy, many are actually out working in between their studies in order to supplement their loan with a bit of cash on the side. While you might not have loads of time to work, you only need to do a shift or two across the week to earn an extra £50-£100 – which, when you consider the average student’s monthly living costs sit at £795, will make a massive difference to your fortunes.
Use cash over card
We live in somewhat of a “cashless society” these days, a notion that has only been furthered by the pandemic and the lack of desire to handle cash during the period. However, once this has all blown over, using cash over card as a student is a super simple way to make you budget.
Take your card out of the equation – and we mean literally take it out of your purse or wallet – and then you can only spend what’s in your pocket ie. the cash you actually have and can afford to spend. A foolproof way to live within your means and dodge a big overdraft.
Stay away from the campus store and your local corner shop – they might be convenient, but they’ll also be costly. With the increasing dominance of online shopping, it’s easier than ever to find a good price on whatever your buying, whether it’s your weekly shop or a one-off, high-ticket item.
Use the library
Depending on your course, and sometimes who’s teaching your course, it can come with a recommended reading list that comes with some rather unforgivingly expensive textbooks that no student can reasonably afford. Enter the ever-faithful library, your brick and mortar saviour that will hold all the texts you need to get your studies done at no extra cost. Just make sure you’re in early for the books to avoid any last-minute essay stresses.
It’s also worth looking into ways to find key texts online, some of which are available for free if you look in the right places.
Make the most of student deals
There are thousands of companies and local promotions out there desperate to take your money. If you pick and choose your opportunities carefully, then your budget will benefit.
Think super cheap promo nights for bargain nights out, and student-friendly deals on typically higher-priced items you might need like tech to help with your studies.
Cook in bulk
Finally, when it comes to food, the bigger the better is the general rule with both buying and cooking. Buy in bulk for cheaper prices, cook in bulk to make the most of it and freeze what you can’t eat in the immediate for later. We’re talking sacks of rice, pasta and potatoes, bulk buy chicken and big jars of sauce.
You might be a touch limited on your meal choices week to week, but your bank balance will thank you, all while you’re still enjoying tasty meals.
Budgeting efficiently while living off of a student loan can be a tall order, but the tips above will help you to make your money go further. Of course, if you do end up struggling, you can always look to sources of extra student loans that can provide additional support without putting too much pressure on you.
However, with a bit of thrifty money management and eye for a deal, hopefully, you won’t need to worry about that.
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