Unless you are one of a very lucky few, being poor is an inextricable part of the student experience. However, that’s not to say that you must live on instant noodles from now on. By following a few easy tips, even the most pitiful of student loans can be stretched.
Make a budget –
So, what’s the easiest way to calculate your budget? When you receive your student loan, immediately set aside enough money for your rent and bills until your next loan payment. Divide the money that’s left by the number of weeks in the semester, and you have your weekly budget.
It is, on the whole. However, even the most careful of budgeters have been left scrambling for coins under the sofa cushions because they forgot to consider a necessary expense. Remember, your budget has to cover:
• Travel expenses;
• Going out;
• Mobile Phone contract;
• Course books & printing costs
If you find yourself struggling to cover the costs of these essentials with your weekly budget, it’s time to get a job. Or, if your pride really can’t stand it, make a grovelling phone call to your parents.
Actually stick to your budget –
Anyone can make a budget, but it takes discipline to stick to it. If you are the sort of person who really struggles to keep track of spending, take your budget out of your account at the start of each week and pay for everything in cash. That way, you only spend what you know what you can afford.
Shop as a flat –
While this isn’t something you can implement straight away, once you get to know your flatmates, it is worth cooking as a group, even if it is just a few times a week. Not only may you win the flatmate lottery and end up living with the next Nigella, but it is a well-known fact that shopping for one works out much more expensive, as most of the fresh food you buy will go out of date before you get round to eating it.
Make sure you have a student bank account –
A student bank account is extremely important when it comes to managing your money. Not only do they have interest-free overdrafts, but many come with bonuses, such as a free 16-25 railcard. This means you aren’t charged for over-spending, and have the opportunity to save money in other areas!