As a first-time student, one of the most daunting aspects of going off to university is understanding how to make the most out of your money. Many people assume that all students blow their loans on nights out in the first week, and while there’s no denying that some young students may make this mistake, most try to save and manage their money wisely. However, many of the students that try to spend their money carefully find themselves struggling to balance living away from home alongside their newfound independence. This can often lead to giving in to the temptation to spend their money on treats to ease the stress and before they know if they haven’t got enough left for their food shop.
Money is tight for students, even those that manage to budget their funds well. In fact, money is so tight for students that the idea of living on a student budget is causing more young people than ever to forego university entirely. While it’s not always an easy road to travel, living comfortably on a student budget is possible, and all it takes is a little savviness. To help you through your first academic year, we’ve compiled our top tips so that you can make the most out of your money while you study.
Living At Home
Most students choose to move out and into student accommodation when the time comes for university. However, if the university you’re attending is within a commutable distance from your family home, it may be worth staying at home as a way to save money. While living at home isn’t typically the done thing when a student heads off to university, in the face of rising rent costs, the benefits far outweigh the fear of missing out on the part of the student social life that comes with having no parental supervision.
Budget Your Loan
Receiving your student loan or maintenance allowance can be exciting as many students have never had that amount of money in their banks before. When the money hits your bank account, resisting the temptation to go wild and spend it on everything you have ever wanted is challenging. As soon as you receive the letter explaining what you’ll get each month, it is imperative that you sit down and budget how you can send your money; if you’re unsure of how to begin, get some help from a parent or a student financial advisor. Having a budget in place and understanding the plan you’ve created will help you resist the urge to start spending the loan as soon as it arrives in your account. Set aside money for all the essentials like rent, utilities, and food each month and consider saving a small portion for emergencies; this way, you’ll ensure your bills are paid on time and know how much you have left to use as fun money.
Student Bank Accounts
Every new school year, UK banks offer an abundance of accounts with irresistible perks aimed to draw students in. Don’t grab the first offer you see though, look into which banks have branches near your chosen university and compare the deals they offer to find one that suits how you’ll use the account. One of the most popular and best perks that you can get with the right student bank account is interest-free overdrafts, as having one provides students with a backup if faced with sudden costs or struggles with budgeting.
Refer And Earn Smartphone Plans
Many students struggle to afford phone plans that tie them into an agreement that lasts for two years and often can only afford the minimum text, minutes and data allowances that don’t cover their typical usage. The best way you can save money on your smartphone is by looking at rolling 30-day SIM-only plans that offer a refer and earn scheme, which will give you the chance to earn money from home while helping your friends benefit from the same deal.
When you sign up with a network that offers refer and earn, for every friend you refer, you typically receive a cash reward or gift card that provides you with the perfect way to earn cash online. Lebara refer a friend offers you the opportunity to earn £50 each time one of your friends sign up for a SIM-only plan and for your chance to earn some extra money for those student nights out; check out https://mobile.lebara.com/gb/en/how-to-refer-and-earn.
Save With Pre-Drinks
Every student will know about pre-drinks, as even the student-friendly bars and pubs tend to be expensive in a university town, especially during freshers week. There’s nothing wrong with blowing off some steam and having some fun with your friends, but the best way to save money on nights out is to drink at home before you head to the pubs or clubs. Add drinking games to your pre-drink ritual, and you and your friends might end up having so much fun you don’t head out to dance off the stress at all.
Don’t Take Your Card
When you do head out on the town with your friends, leave your bank card at home as taking it with you is a dangerous game that could lead to you spending more than you can afford. Instead, head to the local cashpoint and leave your card at home, where it can’t tempt you into spending more when you inevitably run out of cash for more drinks. No one likes waking up hungover and dreading what their bank balance will look like, so don’t take the chance with your money.
Food Shop When Full
Food shopping can be both daunting and exciting for new students as they get full control over what they eat during their studies, but it can be very easy to get giddy and overspend when you’re at the supermarket, especially if you go while you’re hungry or hungover. Make sure you eat before you head to the shops for supplies, as you’ll be less inclined to buy everything that looks good. Another way to ensure you get the most out of your money is meal planning; if you plan out the meals you want to eat for the week and the ingredients you’ll need when you head to the shop, you’ll never go over budget again, and you’ll be less likely to waste any food.