As a student, you will not be a stranger to debt. And reading that students are saddled with the highest debt in the English-speaking world makes one want to give up now. The reality is the chances of leaving university without a sizable debt are slim. With that realization in mind, it’s good to be armed with some of the most attainable ways of reducing debt – ensuring you can spent your time studying and having fun.
Luckily, you’re not as helpless as you think! Here are some of the most sensible routes to minimize your fiscal woes and avoid having to live off a frugal diet of noodles and tomato ketchup all term:
These may be dry as dust, but how else will you pinpoint unnecessary splurges?
Getting a budget together is crucial, and you can do this in a number of ways. You don’t need to have a great head for figures (unless you’re on an accountancy degree!): use an excel spreadsheet to help you keep track, or try and app like Moneyhub – which skims your bank account for incoming and outgoing money, then charts them. You can also use simple online budgeting tools like this one by UCAS.
Money advice charity CAP says is worth using its three-tier system to manage your money. Use one account for regular monthly payments, one for cash and one for emergency savings. The cash you draw from the cash account is all you have to live off each month. It forces you to stick to your budget by dealing with smaller amounts of money.
2) Money MOT
Once your budget is in place, check it takes account of necessary outgoings - student loans, rent, house insurance etc. Make sure you know what you don’t have to pay for as a student - council tax, prescriptions, or dental bills- and then start shaving money off some of your non-necessary outgoings.
Make savings by:
- Making use of the library or second hand book sales.
- Not blowing your student loan on non-necessaries. Keep the expensive kit at home and bring a second-hand laptop and a bluetooth speaker for your music. Don’t get an expensive phone or contract as the chances are it’ll get lost, stolen or dropped down the loo.
- Be disciplined about eating out – even at the student canteen. Bring in bagels, salads – and you’ll be rewarded, having saved some £800 a year. Shop wisely – use local markets and stalls for fruit and veg’. Look out for basics. Make up pasta sauces then freeze them. And check out food sharing apps like Olio.
- Cut out unused memberships like Netflix, and use the college gym rather than paying for an expensive high-street gym.
- Replace some of your nights out for nights in – your liver will thank you for it! Invite friends round for dinner. (And ask said friends to contribute something.) With a myriad of budgets and student cooking sites available, beans on toast is off the menu.
- Another saving worth looking at is 16-25 rail card, which saves a third off all rail fares. The only exception is before 10am, where a £12 minimum charge applies.
- NUS cards give you high-street discounts and money off National Express coaches.
- Get a job: Yes, really. It will work wonders for your time management skills. You could wait tables or do something like tutoring. If you want the more flexible hours that come with babysitting then check out the Student Nannies website.
- Before you increase your overdraft or maintenance loans, you might want to look into the following sources of non-repayment loans: Maintenance Grants or Special Support Grant; adult leaning grant, access to learning fund, childcare grant and parents’ learning allowance, finance for disabled students and adult dependents’ grant.
- Check out bursaries and scholarships. Some universities offer at least a minimum amount if you’re in receipt of the maximum special support or maintenance grant, and paying tuition fees in full.
- Look into benevolence funds (for those in hardship), and research courses, which offer sponsorship.
3) Increasing your income
Finally, it is worth changing your mindset. Put off impulse buys – use wish lists and review them before sending. Learn to delay gratification and reward yourself for working in non-monetary ways such as spending time with friends. Your future starts here – so start small, but start now.
Beena Nadeem writes graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency specialising in matching candidates to their dream internships. Check out their graduate jobs listings for roles. Or; if you’re looking to hire an intern, have a look at their innovative Video CVs.