Are you struggling to make your student loan work for your lifestyle? Here are our top tips on how to make your money stretch further.
If you’re looking for money-saving tips to make your student loan last longer, then look no further. This is the ultimate guide to managing your finances as a student. But, if you’re already in a financial pickle and are looking for ways to get out of debt quick, then check out our guide to living debt-free.
1. Create a spreadsheet
Work out your ingoings and outgoings - that includes your income from student loans, scholarships and bursaries, any parental contributions and part-time jobs, as well as regular outgoings such as your rent, mobile phone and subscriptions like Spotify.
2. Know the power of the 'big shop'
Plan for one supermarket shop per week and avoid convenience stores and takeaways. Not only is this healthier as you’re less likely to buy ready meals and pizza, but you’ll also plan, and that will help you to save money.
3. Look at the lower shelves in the supermarket
Buy supermarket value products rather than well-known brands. They’re usually located on the lower shelves, so they’re a little harder to find!
4. Buy reduced food
Shop at the end of the day when many items are discounted. It’s actually quite a thrill to get those yellow sticker items!
5. Cook with your housemates
Share the cooking with your housemates and plan your daily meals. Try meal planning and batch cooking, where you make a big batch of food and then distribute it into separate containers. It’ll save you time and money as you’ll always have your lunch prepared.
6. Enjoy packed lunches
Avoid grabbing lunch or coffee out. You'll save money by making packed lunches rather than buying a sandwich or going to a coffee shop.
7. Get discounts on transport
Don't overpay for transport. Most universities are either city-based with excellent public transport links or campus-based with everything on your doorstep. If you can’t decide which type of university living is for you, then check out this article. Of course, you’ll want to take public transport from time to time, but consider how much you will want, or need, to use it.
For those who take the train regularly, check out the 16-25 railcard, which gives you a third off fares. PS Santander will throw in a free four-year railcard if you open a 1|2|3 Student Current Account with them.
8. Get savvy with your student card
You can benefit from more than 200 student discounts ranging from essentials to fashion, music and technology - just check out our offers!
9. Buy second-hand
Once you know your reading list for the academic year, buy your course books second-hand. You won't need to buy them all and can borrow set texts from the library. You'll find cheap second-hand copies online or by asking students in older years.
10. Use price comparison websites
If you're sharing a student house, you'll be responsible for your gas, electricity, water and Wi-Fi costs. Comparison websites search for the best deals and keep costs down by saving energy. Make sure to set up direct debits for regular bills so they're paid each month automatically. This will help you to avoid any late payment charges.
11. Understand what your bank offers
An overdraft beats freebies. Having an overdraft in place means the bank won't charge you fees if you overspend. With a student account, you won't pay to get an overdraft, and the money borrowed won't accumulate interest like with some regular accounts. If you don't have savings or family support, a student overdraft means money to fall back on, plus you may save more on fees and interest than with freebies like railcards and gift vouchers. You'll only benefit from an overdraft by sticking to the terms - keep to the limit and always repay what you borrow on time.
Consider having more than one bank account. Student accounts come with extra bonuses that mean you can only have one at a time, but that doesn't mean you can't have other bank accounts. You could put your student loan and wages in one account, then transfer money to a separate account for paying bills and direct debits. Look into the different types of bank accounts and investments to stretch your student loan.
12. Avoid credit cards
Credit cards can cause you to think you have more money than you do. If you’re in a real crux, then opt for 0% credit cards. These are similar to student overdrafts because you won't have to pay interest on the money borrowed. However, the only way to benefit from credit cards is to stick to the conditions. Once you start paying interest, fees or penalty charges, your credit effectively costs you more.
13. Use apps
This is an easy way to save for holidays, emergencies or anything else you might need cash for in the future, as your bank or savings app does everything automatically. With apps like Moneybox, you can round up your purchases, and the additional money will move into a savings account. So, you’ll end up saving without even realising it!
For more tips and tricks on managing your money, check out our articles on student finances.