As a student, it’s a sad truth that you’ll have to manage on a limited budget. For most, going to university is their first real experience of managing their own finances, and it’s very easy to fall into the trap of overspending. When that happens, there are a number of avenues you can go down, from dipping into your overdraft to borrowing money from a loans company like Smart-Pig. However you choose to combat your problem, the important thing is to make sure that you have enough to live on.
Once you’ve made this mistake once, though, there’s no excuse for falling into the same trap a second time. You need to learn how to budget and tighten your belt, whilst still ensuring that you have enough to live on. One of the best ways to do this is to make sure that you save money in as many ways as you can. If you’re looking for some tips to help you do that, here are five to get you started.
Tip One: Get Council Tax Discounts
Many students don’t realise how much they could save just by reviewing the amount they pay out as council tax. Did you know that if you only live with other students, then you’re not eligible to pay council tax at all? Even if you live with a non-student, you’ll be disregarded, meaning that your tax rate should be reduced by around 25 per cent. This isn’t deducted automatically, so you’ll need to apply to your local council if you want to benefit from it.
Tip Two: Take Advantage of Grants
It always pays to see what incentives your university is offering. Often, you’ll find that there are grants or free courses available to help you – you just don’t know about them because you’ve never taken the time to look. The Education Grants Guide, Educational Grants Advisory Service and Scholarship Search are great places to start your enquiries, and it’s worth getting in touch with the relevant people at your university too.
Tip Three: Don’t Enjoy a Big Blowout
One of the most common causes for students to end up falling into debt cycles is that they blow their loan cash as soon as it arrives. It might seem like you’re rich suddenly, but take the time to work out how much you actually have to spend each week in order to eke out your loan until the next one arrives and, whatever you do, don’t let yourself break your weekly budget. This tactic is so simple that it almost seems insulting to say it, but trust us, it really does work.
Tip Four: Secure an Overdraft
One of the most important things to do before starting university is to get a proper student bank account. Choose one that has an overdraft attached to it, and make sure that this is charged at 0 per cent interest. Although it’s not necessarily advisable to dip into it, it’s far better in the long run to use your overdraft facility than it is to turn to loans or other methods of borrowing. Whatever you do, though, never ever exceed your overdraft limit – believe us, that’s the path to ruin.
Tip Five: Grab a Student Discount Card
Student discount cards might seem like little more than an enticement to shop, but trust us when we say that they’re worth their weight and more in gold. You’re inevitably going to spend money at some point during your time at university, and with discounts from over 160 retailers they could save you a lot of cash. What’s more, they even offer you money off basics like food shopping when you buy from Co-Op or any of NUS’ other partners.
Follow our top tips today to make sure that you still have some money left at the end of the month.