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How to make your Student Loan last

Hi, I’m Savannah and in this blog I’m going to talk about how I budget at university and my top tips for making your student loan last. 

How to make your student loan last
You may be thinking why should I make my loan last and look after my finances as a student? Well, without financial stability it can be incredibly hard to make the most of your university experience. It helps to make sure that you avoid having financial worries which can take a toll on your mental health. Financial security provides many benefits, for instance accumulating savings, feelings less stressed and developing your money management skills. Personally, the process of becoming financially-savvy was really easy once I understood the methods. I was then able to really stretch-out and make the most of my maintenance loan within each instalment. With this in mind, below are the tips that I have used for the duration of my studies to help my loan stretch further. 

Budgeting

‘Budgeting’ is a scary term for some students, especially those who have had no prior experience managing money. In my opinion, budgeting your expenditure per week rather than per month is the best way to keep track of everything. This way you do not leave yourself penniless at the end of the month. In order to calculate your weekly budge, simply minus your essential expenses (rent, groceries, bills, travel etc) from your total income, and then divide that number by the number of weeks in the term.

To establish my income, I added together my main income streams such as my maintenance loan and part-time job earnings. It is vital that you include any source of revenue such as money from parents, any savings you have, and any bursaries, scholarships or grants you are entitled to. Your biggest expense will always be your rent and household bills and so for this I would recommend setting up a direct debit so that the regular payments can be made on time, and so you do not accidentally spend that money. Anything not accounted for is your allowance, which you can split into weekly amounts to spend on non-student essentials like takeaways, gym membership, clothes, nights out, subscription services etc. However, bear in mind that this money may sometimes be needed for unexpected costs, such as repairing a phone or laptop etc.

Set Yourself Goals

In my opinion, budgeting is a useful tool as it taught me financial sensibility as I learnt to acknowledge my spending habits. For example, you may realise that you are spending £40 a month on takeaways (which was definitely in my case an issue), in this instance you might set yourself the goal of halving that amount. By setting personal goals it will help you generate some savings that may become extremely useful in the future. Such awareness of your spending will encourage you to understand how to differentiate between needs and wants as you definitely do not need to spend large sums of money on things that are not essential. It is time to make those tough decisions and cutback on your regular habits if you want to save money and enjoy student life.

There are a multitude of online tools that can hep you get started with your budgeting, with apps such as Monzo and Starling Bank, as well as free online student budget calculators.

Smart Shopping

Always think discounts, offers and deals. Bargain hunting will become your best friend at university. Get thrifty and shop around. There is generally always some sort of deals available and you will be surprised by how much money you can save on gigs, food, cinemas, and retail shops just by looking around and comparing prices. Generally, you can get 10—20% off the full price online or in person. Discounts can be accessed using the NUS extra card, your student ID, websites, apps, and any travel cards. Whenever I needed to save money, I would use apps, as an easy quick method for accessing a wide range of different discounts. I would recommend the following apps:

  • StudentBeans
  • Unidays
  • Depop
I recommend smart shopping even when you are buying food in the supermarket too. The rule I always follow is having a weekly budget, such as £20 to spend, which I made work for the three years of study. To achieve this, I would buy items with long expiry date (pasta, rice, and tinned foods), only purchase the supermarket’s own branded items, and stocked up on any staple cheapies I saw in multipack form. Lastly, I only shopped during the evening when supermarkets start to reduce some items as that is when you get the best bargains. 

Part-time Job

Finally, I would recommend taking up a part-time job if possible, whether it is in hospitality, retail, or your chosen career field. It seems obvious by earning additional income it enables you to be able to manage the cost of living more comfortably. On top of being a great opportunity to expand your social network, improve your CV, as well as helping you become a more organised individual as you tackle balancing work with your deadlines. However, for some this balancing can be daunting, and in this case, I would suggest looking into on-campus work opportunities such as bar work, student ambassador, lifeguard etc. Working for the university offers flexible hours allowing you to decide when you want to work rather than having sets days. I chose to work for the university for this reason as a student ambassador and I cannot rave about it enough! It is definitely the most fun job I have had this far. It is well paid and is a great opportunity to meet new people from different courses. By following this tip, I gained extra financial security as the additional cash flow made it easier to have more money saved aside for treating myself.

I hope these tips are helpful and remember if you are encountering any financial difficulties, seek guidance as soon as possible. Get in touch with the university Money and Advice team who are there to support you.  

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About the Author

Girl with long, dark brown hair looking at the camera

Savannah

Hi I’m Savannah and I study Childhood Studies here at Leeds Beckett University. 

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