The quintessential student experience: cheap pints at the university bar; long nights of last-minute cramming due to said cheap pints; arguments about the washing-up in your shared house; and of course, the empty wallet/bank account/piggy bank after two weeks of enjoying the fullness of a student loan payment. University is a unique and life-changing experience, with highs and lows and all-sorts in-between - but naturally, concerns about finances create a genuine barrier for some prospective or returning students. Here, we’ll explore a few simple ways to keep costs down, and spend a little safer during your time at university.
Despite its boring nature, and despite the fear the yawning chasm of an empty Excel spreadsheet might instil in the heart of the hardiest student, budgeting is perhaps one of the most effective suggestions on this list. Keeping track of your income and outgoings each month is a quick and simple first step. With the knowledge of what you have left after rent and utilities, you can safely judge exactly what you can afford each week – and with a bit of self-control, rein in your spending where necessary.
If you drive to university each day, it might be time for a rethink. The combined cost of fuel and parking adds up quickly, and may no longer be a luxury you can afford – especially if there are relevant transport links in your city. Perhaps your local bus service has a discount for students, or maybe your university even has a cycle scheme for you to use.
Loans and Overdrafts, the Safe Way
If employed safely, overdrafts and loans can be an excellent cushion for your living and study costs. Your first step should be to open a student bank account, with a 0% overdraft tacked on. These are available to students from most major banks, with repayments only required up to 2 years after graduation in some cases.
As a student, your credit score is likely to be “poor” – owing to the fact your credit history is non-existent. You might struggle to apply for credit cards as a result, though with high interest rates and hidden fees they’re best avoided in the first place. Alternatives are thankfully available in the form of short term loans which are specifically for students with poor credit. This provides students with a source of income before their next loan instalment.
Last but not least, it might be helpful for you to develop a keen eye for offers and discounts across the board. Many places will be partnered with student discount programs such as Totum, whether local chain restaurants, cinemas, or supermarkets. Fast food and delivery services commonly offer student discounts, with free delivery or money off for recommending a friend. Local independent venues might even offer student incentives to increase their footfall, giving you the opportunity to save on nights out as well.