Student loan budgeting

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After mostly relying on the bank of Mum and Dad, your student loan to many Freshers’ feels like winning the lottery with the freedom to finally buy anything you want and have enough club nights and takeaways to last a lifetime. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but don’t forget that at least half of that will have to go on tuition and a big chunk of the rest will go on groceries, train or air fares home, books and all that boring stuff.

But, it’s not all bad news, with some clever planning and budgeting you can make your student loan stretch further without having to miss out on the best nights out.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Alert your bank

When you’ve accepted your place at uni make sure you book an appointment in your bank’s local branch to switch your current account to a student account. This will give you an interest free overdraft that you can set yourself and extend if you really need to. Be sure to only set your overdraft at an amount that is reasonable to pay back though, otherwise it could affect your credit rating, ability to set up other accounts, land you into trouble when you have to change it to a graduate account or hit with a serious overdraft fee. Also, make sure you set up online banking and download the app so you can easily keep track of your spending from your phone.

2. Plan ahead for your social events

Uni life is filled with nights out, concerts and meals to help you bond with your housemates or hall mates, but don’t be caught out. Buy your Earlybird tickets in advance and check your Student Union’s Facebook deals for offers and deals. Don’t be fooled into buying any fancy dress packs for those themed nights as the markup is insane, instead bring any fun items from home or organise a flat trip to Poundland for all the face paint and army prints you’ll need.

3. Make the most of student deals

This is a big one because if you ignore all the great offers available to students you’ll regret it when you’ve missed the boat. Buying a 16-25 railcard is an obvious must; invest in one and save 1/3 of all your train journeys. Also, look into an NUS card for deals on restaurants, cinemas and an array of high street brands. Make sure that you check out Unidays for offers on bigger items like a new laptop or a printer, too.

4. Split the cost

Rather than spending a fortune in your campus Nisa, check which big supermarkets deliver to your student halls and split the cost of delivery between your housemates. This is a quick and simple way to reduce the cost of grocery and gives you opportunities to cook meals with your friends and waste way less food. Also, check on your uni website to see if they have any meal cards for non-catered halls. That means you can eat at the campus cafeterias cheaper and hassle free.

It might sound boring but if you save here and there, little and often, you’ll find you have more money left over for awesome trips during your enviably long holidays!

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