Getting The Most From Your Student Loan

For many students, university will be the first real experience of being away from home for longer than the odd week or two. What’s more, after a life of part time jobs and paying £25 a week in rent to your parents (which seems far too much when all they do is provide you with a roof and some food), Sheffield Student Accommodation the moment when you check your bank account and see that someone really has just put over two grand in there can lead to a spending frenzy as you kit yourself out with a new wardrobe and buy enough booze to turn Fresher’s Week into a party worthy of a scene from The Hangover.

But – and trust me when I say I have experience in this area – this can lead to a diet of beans on toast, noodles, and regular trips to the student union department, cap in hand, begging for money to tide you over. Money which will come out of next semester’s budget.

And, what’s more, it could be a year before you financially recover from your spending error, and it won’t be long before a night out with your house mates seems like nothing more than a distant memory.

While this may have been manageable when you were in your first year and most of your bills were taken care of for you, things are a tad trickier when it comes to moving out and into off-campus student accommodation.

The Essentials

When you’ve moved out of uni and into student accommodation, there are some things you’re just going to have to fork out for whether you want to or not.

  • Food
  • Utilities
  • Broadband
  • Rent

These are 4 essentials that you can’t avoid, and probably the 4 that are going to drain the most from your loan. As such, you really want to make sure you make savings where you can.

Munch

If you’re living in a shared house, you may want to pool your finances when it comes to your weekly shop. Items such as big bags of pasta, rice, and large boxes of cereal more often than not can prove to be much better value for money.

What’s more, they tend to last well and can come in very handy if money starts getting tight over the coming months. It makes sense to get plenty of tins and foods that last as if your bank account starts to look sparse, you’ll feel much safer in the knowledge that you still have something decent to eat in the cupboards.

The Net

This is another area where planning can make all the difference. Firstly, it’s important to look at what kind of package you are going to need. There’s no point getting the cheapest service that isn’t superfast if you’re living in a house with 5 people who like to hammer Netflix and play Call Of Duty, as you’re only going to find the net at a standstill when you need it for studying.

Fortunately, there are sites like Broadband Genie that can steer you in the right direction so it may be worth chatting to your new housemates and shopping for a service that’s affordable as well as sufficient for your needs. Check out our recent post ‘The Best Broadband Deals For Living With Friends’ for more on this topic.

Gas, Electric, etc.

Another essential that can’t be avoided – unless you’re happy to eat cold food in the dark and do all your studying at uni, which I’ve also seen some students end up doing.

Again, just shop around, as some services are cheaper than others. Take the extra time to find something affordable and budget until your next loan instalment to ensure that you have enough money to keep the heating and your lights on.

Rent

When it comes to the rent there’s only one sensible approach. Pay it up front in instalments to cover until your next loan instalment clears. Many estate agents will actually require this if you’re a student, which isn’t a bad thing. But if they don’t, do it anyway as the last thing you want is to end up falling behind with your rent – estate agents aren’t as forgiving as your parents, and you may find yourself out on your arse if you’re not careful.

Time To Get Your Scrooge On

Now you’ve moved out of halls, you’re probably going to find that money is tighter than ever. So it’s time to ask yourself if you really need that gym membership? Or if £40 a month for an iPhone contract really makes sense?

If you can cut your expenses, do so, as your loan won’t go that far over the coming year.

Plus, you know all those coupons that are always coming through the door or attached to your Domino’s pizza? Well, it’s definitely time to start collecting them instead of throwing them away.

You should also keep your receipts and sit down once a week and look at where you’re spending money. There may be something that you haven’t considered that you’ll need to budget for, or even something that you don’t need any longer but are still paying for.

The Key To Enjoying Your Money At Uni

If you budget today, you may find yourself with some money left over at the end of the term, and if you do, you can spend all the flash cash you want on anything from beer to clothes. But, if you spend it at the beginning of term and end up short on money for living, you’re in for a long and depressing time waiting for your next loan instalment loan.

So if you’re planning on having a moving in party, don’t – an end of year party makes much more sense.