When it comes to managing your finances, there are no rulebooks. Life would be much easier if there were. Everyone has different incomes and circumstances. Let us be clear on one thing – I cannot tell you how to spend your money.
However, what I can offer you are a few tips to help those already – stretched maintenance loans stretch that bit further.
First, your parents have probably said it already, but I will repeat it. Budget. Whether you keep a diary, make a spreadsheet, or use a budget planner, keep a record of your income and expenditure. With maintenance loans divided into three instalments, you will need to understand outstanding bills and payments you must make (such as accommodation, TV licence and phone bills). Once the essentials are covered, you can divide your remaining income and set yourself an allowance including food.
However, sticking to budgets is not always easy. If you find that your finances are always tiptoeing into the red, then you need to fix it. One of the handiest resources you probably have is your phone; banking apps are essential not only to pay the bills, but also to monitor your spending.
It becomes second nature to swipe your card without thinking about what you have spent, but by tracking every payment and withdrawal you will be able to see where your money’s going. Really consider whether an item is necessary before you purchase it, or if you could find a cheaper alternative or non-branded version.
The same goes for your service providers and your bank. Staying loyal to companies rarely pays very well for consumers, so shop around for the best deals. For when you do want the finer things in life, make the most of the perks of being a student.
NUS extra, StudentBeans and Unidays offer brilliant discounts across a broad spectrum of brands. Whilst a discount code is no excuse for an unprecedented shopping spree, do check if you can save some pennies. Also, take advantage of trips organised by societies, which are often cheaper and planned for you.
Even with all that said and done, living – and not just surviving – on a student loan is tough, even for those with the tightest grip on their purse strings. According to savethestudent.org, the average maintenance loan instalment can be as much as £221 short per month. If your loan is not able to cover your costs, there are other forms of income.
Sometimes the Bank of Mum and Dad can offer support, but of course not everyone has family who can offer financial help. Part-time jobs can supplement your income, as well as add something extra to your CV. Whilst they may not be relevant to your future career, they demonstrate a positive work ethic, and the ability to act independently – qualities that all employers can appreciate.
Going to university is a learning curve. Managing money sounds daunting, but do not let financial worries drag you down, there’s plenty of support should you find yourself struggling. The Student Support Service can offer help and advice on money matters and more.
For more information visit https://portal.uea.ac.uk/student-support-service/finance.