Advice & Hacks
Money Matters: How To Make Your Loan Last Until The End Of Term
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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! Yes, it's tempting, but those who do this will be way more likely to find themselves in trouble towards the end of the semester.
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 hundreds of great discounts 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!
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!
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.
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 household.
Whether you're living at home or in shared accommodation, you can save money on random products such as washing up liquid, cooking equipment, food, and any other bits and bobs you can divide with others - it's surprising how much money these small items can take up over time.
When saving money on food, why not organise group meals where you can cook together and all help out on buying ingredients. So if you're doing an online shop, club together to do one for the whole household rather than a few little ones - it'll save you money and free up those extra delivery slots for other people too.
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.
TOTUM is the #1 student discount card and app giving you access to exclusive student deals on food and fashion, tech and travel and everything in between.
In store and online, TOTUM puts all the best student coupons, vouchers and discounts right where you want them - in your pocket.