Rent refunds, ISAs and investments | Ultimate guide to stretching your student loan

Lois King on 13 January 2021

So, you’ve stopped shopping in Tescos and made the swap to Aldi… But, is that enough? Find out how you can save big while at university and beyond.

With universities telling students to go back to halls, and then subsequently continuing with online teaching and distance learning, you might be frustrated that you’re paying for student accommodation that you can’t access or don’t need. 

There are a couple of ways you can fight for a partial refund on your rent. If you’re in uni halls, you’re in with a chance as the university has a pastoral duty of care: see the latest on rent rebate here. In contrast, if you live in a private student flat or house, you’re less likely to convince your landlord for a discount or refund, but it’s worth getting in contact with them to voice your concerns and check out your rights here. 

But if you’re stuck paying rent for the foreseeable, then consider how you can make your student budget stretch by getting smart with your money to save for your future. 

Where to begin?

Do your research 

If you’re lucky enough to be able to save some of your maintenance loan, you’ve come into some inheritance money or you’ve got a part-time job, then make sure you know how to maximise your savings. 

Make sure to research all the best savings accounts - there are loads of different types of ISAs available (fixed-term, stocks and shares, cash and LISAs), in addition to Premium Bonds. Put simply, you don’t pay tax on the interest you earn on ISAs or the winnings you gain from Premium Bonds, so you get more for your money. Here’s the breakdown of the main types of ISA:

Cash ISA: the most basic of the ISAs, the same as a normal savings account but you don’t pay tax.

Fixed-term ISA: great if you can save money away for a year or two without withdrawing it, and better interest rates than current or savings accounts.

Stocks and shares ISA: a riskier investment, you could lose your money or make more money - not for the faint-hearted.

LISAs: if you’re saving for the long haul to buy your first property, then you’ll love the LISA. The government will top up your savings by 25% up to a maximum of £1000 per year. However, you can only spend this money on your first home. 

Get inspired

For real-life inspiration, check out Lara Joanna Jarvis’ YouTube channel, where she covers the basics of budgeting and investing for beginners. Lara’s journey started out like most of us - mindless spending and wondering where all her money went. Since discovering minimalism and setting financial goals, Lara has been able to improve her finances and is now sharing her tips so you can too. Find out what a no-buy year is all about, how to begin your investment journey and how to save big for your future. 

Boost your income

Granted, during lockdown, it can seem like a difficult feat to find a part-time job to supplement your student loan and savings. However, don’t let that stop you. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen non-stop innovation. Start a YouTube channel, figure out how you can make your skillset work for you by tutoring online or selling your handiwork or baking on apps like Olio. To save money, you need to make money, so turn your skills into extra cash and get saving.

Go minimal 

Find out how minimalism can work for you, with these top tips on where to begin. It’s as simple as starting with decluttering, and then you’ll experience a snowball effect. Not only with your momentum for purging unnecessary possessions, but also in your bank account. 

If you’re a money-savvy student looking to share your tips on how to save big time while at university and as a graduate, then join our panel of student writers today. 

Lois King
Lois King on 13 January 2021