Advice & Hacks
Money Matters: How To Make Your Loan Last Until The End Of Term
More than half of university students regularly run out of money, and a study by Campus Living Village on 2,000 students revealed that almost a quarter struggled to buy food and essentials.
With all this considered, and those big numbers you see going in and out of your bank, managing your money and loans can seem like a confusing mess that makes no sense.
We understand how you feel, so we want to help! So here are five simple tips to help make your loan last and provide you with easy, essential understanding of all this money business.
Planning & Dividing
Okay, this is a good place to start.
Chunking all your money down into smaller parts is the best thing. Nothing makes sense until this step has been applied, and it makes maths seem friendly, which is great.
You will get payed three installments over the year, which roughly match up with the start of your semesters (not exactly though, it's common that you'll have a few days at university before your first payment actually arrives, so it's good to have a little nest of money to take with you for getting through this bit).
These installments are the really big numbers, which honestly will feel a little weird seeing in your bank account, but be warned - this isn't the time to go to Gucci or spend merrily, first you've got to really break it down.
1. To find out exactly how much you'll be payed, you can log onto your account at gov.uk on the student finance section, then go to 'your finance' and 'payments', where a table will show you how much you get payed per installment. (You will have probably accessed this account before when applying for a student loan)
2. The big bills come first - for some students, their parents/ guardians may have already helped out with the bigger payments like accommodation costs or phone contracts etc, so they don't really need to worry about this stage as much. For some though, you may be paying all the important stuff on top of daily necessities; if this is you, a good thing to do would be to subtract the big payments away from the overall installment first before doing the rest of the breaking down process.
Usually, a university or online form will have given you the opportunity to choose whether you pay the big payments all at once (very rare), monthly or yearly.
3. Get your calculators at the ready - this is where maths comes in. Once you've got the number for your first installment (or whichever installment you're focusing on regarding which semester you're in) and subtracted any bigger payments if needed, you can divide this into sections and plan out how much you're allowed to spend on certain things like food, healthcare, social activities, leftover money for presents etc. throughout the year.
Personally, I find this confusing with there being so many numbers and sections, so another little trick i would suggest is a 'weekly plan'.
Find out how many weeks you'll be at university for during that semester. But watch out! This number of weeks might not equate to all the time you'll actually spend at uni, as you may go home during holidays and in these periods you won't really need your loan as you won't be paying for the usual living essentials etc.
So calculate roughly how many weeks you think you'll really be at uni for, (when the loan comes in handy), and divide the big installment by this number of weeks. There you go! That's how much money you can spend on various things per week at uni, which some may find easier to understand and manage.
Spending straight away, and not spending straight away
This one's kind of a no-brainer.
Like we said, it will feel a little weird seeing that big number at first and having some money pumping into your bank. But don't forget our little piece of advice earlier of paying the bigger bills first (if this applies to you), because then you can manage the rest of your money so much easier.
When you do finalise the amount of money you can spend, don't be tempted to spend it all straight away, whether that's on drinking and social events, or buying a bunch of random decorations and notepads for your uni room. Yes, it's tempting, but those who do this will be way more likely to find themselves in trouble towards the end of the year.
It's three installments you'll get across the whole year, so you need to make it last.
Speaking of making money last, we have a few other ways and suggestions of how you can save money while you're at uni.
Student discount cards are a great way to save money at loads of shops and cafes. For example, a TOTUM card will give you discounts at more than 200 stores and restaurants across the UK. It costs £14.99 for a one-year card, £24.99 for two years and £34.99 for three - on top of that, all these include a Proof of Age (PASS) ID and a 12 month ISIC membership!
The simple things like keeping on top of loyalty cards, collecting those stamps to get free coffees, or just asking if shops do student discounts can all help you in the long run.
Buying cheaper meals and products from cheaper brands is one of the more obvious pieces of advice we can give you. Most of the time, you won't even notice the price difference and things will taste or act relatively the same as more expensive versions. The student life isn't expected to be all glam and glitz, so living life on a budget is something you'll probably get used to - it can even be a fun challenge!
Although, you mustn't forget the other additions that may improve your income and give you a little more money, like pay from part-time work, savings or bonus cash/interest from bank accounts, state benefits and allowances, help from student finance in bursaries, grants and travel expenses etc.
The Weekly Trick
As mentioned in the first step, breaking down your allowance (money left over from loan for every-day things) into weeks, will help you create a weekly budget and be more organised in how much you spend per week, so you can safely avoid any tricky situations regarding debts and money.
If you're craving an even higher level of organisation, why not divide your weekly budget by seven to work out how much you can spend in a day - now that's organised.
Something else that might help you keep better track of your money would be to take out cash for your weekly budget, so you're not tempted to go over when paying by card. You're bound to have your money situation under control this way!
Sharing is caring, and saving your finances
This one is so true, and will not only be a useful tip for you, but also for the rest of your flatmates.
Save money on random products by sharing soap, washing up liquid, cooking equipment, food, and just any bits and bobs you can divide with others - it's surprising how much money these small items can take up overtime.
When saving money on food, why not organise group meals where you can cook together and all help out on buying ingredients, or arrange a buffet in which everyone must bring a different item to the table, which is both fun and will give you all something to look forward to at the end of week!
After first year, when you start looking for somewhere else to stay once your time at halls is up (you can choose to stay at halls though, with many university accommodations offering 'Hall Tutor' positions in exchange for free rent - now there's a money saver!), rent may become your next issue. When it comes to it, sharing a house/flat with a group of friends and splitting the rent between you is a great way to save on money and make the big numbers less scary...
Above all these steps and tricks we've given you, talking to and asking your university for help is always a good option, and the people there are used to this kind of stuff so they know how to help you.
Most universities have hardship funds, opportunity awards and emergency options available if your financial situation changes or becomes desperate. So don't be afraid to speak out.