A student loan is not the most generous of amounts and if it is all the money that you get to help you through university then you will need to make sure that you are really frugal in order to manage. There are many things that you can do so that you make the money last.
- Set a budget – once you know how much money you will be getting then you will be able to start to set a budget. You will need money to pay your rent, transport to university and cover the utility bills. Hopefully you will be able to calculate how much you will need for that and then you will know what you have left. This remaining money will need to pay for your food, any learning resources you need, travel back home and any extra costs such as new clothing, phone contracts, haircuts, evenings out and alcohol. Once you know how much remaining money you have, it is worth calculating how much you will be able to spend each week. Work out how many weeks you will be living away from home each year and then you can divide the money you have by that and you will know how much you can spend.
- Keep some money back – it can be wise to set your budget lower than the money you have. For example, if you calculate that you will have £30 a week then you might want to try to keep a bit back, so only spend £20 if you can. This is because you might need money towards the end if the term or year and may not have any left. If you suddenly have a settlement bill on your electric, need to buy some expensive textbooks or have to travel back and forth home a bit more then you will be glad to have that money to fall back on.
- Ask for money gifts – many students are still lucky enough to get gifts form the parents, grandparents and other family members. Often, they will ask what you want and it can be wise to ask for money so that you can add it to your loan and have a bit extra. If they do prefer to buy gifts then think of things that you really need perhaps some new clothing, books for university or things like that which you would otherwise have to buy out of the loan money.
- Ask parents for help – although your parents may not be able to afford to help you out financially, they may be able to help you with financial planning. They will have been managing household expenses for a long time and so they might be able to pass on some useful advice to you. As a student, you might feel that you should be getting more independent and not relying on your parents for things like this but do not dismiss their knowledge. They may have been to university themselves and had to manage money like you will be or they may have had to carefully budget in other situations. They might be really happy that you have asked and have all sorts of useful information for you. If they do not then ask other relatives you have that have been students as they could help you out.
- Resist temptation – it can be very tempting to spend more money than you can afford. This is partly because other students might be doing it and you get carried away with them or feel that it is unfair that you cannot do the same thing. It is also tricky because you have a lump sum of money so it feels like you have a lot when in fact, you need that to last a long time. Most students have not ben away from home before and they will not be used to having to budget and be careful about what they are spending. Also being responsible for paying rent, utilities and even their own food can be something completely new. Although it is a great life lesson it is always useful to start off doing things right rather than getting into financial trouble and having to then learn a very hard lesson.
- Borrow money – it can be possible for students to sometimes borrow extra money. They may be able to use an overdraft, credit card or payday loan. It is unlikely they could get other types of loans though. Although these can be really helpful you do need to make sure that you are able to repay them. Make sure that you are aware of how much the interest is and what the terms of the loan are so that you know when and how much you will be expected to repay. This should be easy to find out, if it is not on the website then you will be able to call customer services and find out that way. It is important to know this so that you choose an appropriate loan for you.