3 Loan Saving Tips No Student Should Be Without10/02/2015
So you’ve been back at university for nearly a month since Christmas. January is over and that means mid-year exams are finished and your second loan instalment has been deposited into your bank account. Fantastic! But the fun of ‘Freshers’ was last term and it left you relying heavily on the bank account of Mum and Dad for the months leading up to Christmas. We want to show you how with a bit of budgeting, you can make your loan stretch over more than just a few weeks without compromising on the fun of university.
1. Student Weekly Shop – Sorted
Last term, food shops mostly consisted of as and when eating – which ultimately ended up with numerous meal deals, pizzas and the kebab shop after a night out. You couldn’t survive without a microwave and the chances of seeing anything remotely green on the plate only happened when you went home for a weekend courtesy of Mum and Dad.
Using your student loan wisely and budgeting each week for food may seem boring but it needn’t be. Planning what you are going to eat can help you save massively and cut down on the impulse buying. And eating healthily is not only cheaper, but filling enough to help you avoid snacking!
12 Cupboard Must Haves
Here is a list of what we feel should fill the cupboard, fill the students and most importantly lower the impact of your food shop on your student loan:
- Loaf of Bread – Non brand
- Cereal – Non brand.
- Tin – Chopped Tomatoes/baked beans
- Herbs/Spices – These last so long, that they justify the slightly higher price and they can help transform the taste of any meal!
- Selection of Sauces – You could go to extra length to make these but buying a curry paste or sweet and sour sauce won’t break the bank.
- Rice – Not Boil in the Bag!
- Pasta – Spaghetti is usually cheapest.
- Coffee – Non brand
- Milk – If it’s just you using it, 4 Pints should be sufficient.
- Meat – You can usually get some discount when purchasing items like chicken breast and minced meat together such as “2 for £4”. Sausages are great also for lunch sandwiches and cheap.
- Fruit and Veg Selection – Make sure to get FRESH fruit and veg as it usually works out cheaper than buying pre-packaged stuff. This is a common way for supermarkets to take some extra pennies and it all adds up! Your body will thank you also for the benefits of eating this stuff!
By buying items like this, you will often find you can make meals that can last a few days – rather than just one serving, which is kind to your student loan!
2. Town on a Budget
Before you think we’re being a kill-joy, hear us out. You can still have a good time with a night on the town even on a budget! It’s so easy to spend money on nights out, but that feeling the next morning (aside from the inevitable hangover) of looking at your bank account to inspect the damage to your loan can be soul destroying.
We’ve come up with some planning tips that can help you to still have a good time, but also keep your student loan in a healthy looking state (and your parents will be thankful too!):
- Pre-drinks – OK so don’t pre drink too much or you won’t be allowed entry, but clubs and bars are expensive places when it comes to drinks. If you want to keep your spending to a minimum, then try avoiding drinks when you get to town.
- If you must buy drinks in town, try to buy drinks that are large. Often bars and clubs will have offers such as “80p shots” or mixers. But these are so small, it’s easy to indulge in a few and before you know it, the room is spinning and the wallet is empty. If you go for drinks that come in a larger glass, you’ll spend more time over one drink when you could have been buying several! (Your student loan and your head will thank you in the morning).
- If you can walk to your destination (safely) then do so. Taxis are incredibly expensive especially when you’re on your own. And the fresh air will help you to sober up a bit.
- If you feel you can be strict with your spending, then leave your bank card at home. Take out enough for the night prior, and only have that when you leave. That way you cannot spend more than you take out, and there are no drunken ‘hole in the wall’ visits.
- You’ve probably heard it a million times – but drink water. You don’t have to be legless to have a good time and water is 100% free. It hydrates you, it will help with a hangover and it won’t break the bank at all. A Greek proverb states “I fear the man who drinks water” – because he remembers everything!
- Even fancy dress can be done on the cheap. Fancy dress is a popular theme at University but you can be imaginative when it comes to what you go as. For example, Halloween is a massively popular fancy dress night and assuming you have an old shirt you rarely use anymore, you can tear some holes in it, borrow some red nail varnish or food dye and voila!
3. Cheap Travel for Students
Ok, so you might not want travel around on a penny farthing (please wear a helmet if you do!), but getting from A to B can be an expensive ordeal. But if you’re trying to be careful with your student loan, then read some of these hints to get ideas as to how you could save yourself some Benjamin Franklins:
- If you’ve got a bicycle then use it. It’s quick, free and a great form of exercise. Just make sure you wear all the safety gear and lock it up when you’re not using it. In fact if you have a bike, you don’t have an excuse to not use it.
- Walk. Yes, those two lower limbs are there for a reason, and they’re pretty good for getting us around places. They’re free, economical and if you haven’t got a bicycle they’re the next best thing. Even just half an hour of walking a day can make a difference to your well being – and your wallet. There are loads of Pedometer apps you can get on your Smartphone too which record your steps and distance you have walked.
- If you have to ride in a taxi, only do it with others so the cost can be split. Taxis are probably the most expensive method of transport. They can be handy but if you’re looking out for your student loan, they’re best avoided.
- As a student under 25, that makes you eligible for a railcard. Honestly, these are the best thing since sliced bread when it comes to rail travel. They shave a third off the ticket price, so they pay for themselves very quickly. If you need to travel by train regularly or have to make long journeys to get home then it’s a must have.
- If you happen to have a car but you don’t need it at University, then its best left at home. By need, we don’t mean to fill the boot every week with shopping. You’ll have to fork out to be able to keep it parked and safe for one. Secondly petrol is an expensive commodity. If you need to get home, train tickets work out at a similar price to the cost of petrol you would use – and if you have a railcard as mentioned then it could be cheaper.
- Buses. Buses are great. They’re cheaper than a taxi, faster than walking and many bus companies have student deals on tickets. Whilst it is cheap however, we would recommend only using them if you don’t live in reasonable distance to University or it’s absolutely chucking it down with rain. And we mean buckets – not light drizzle!!
Luckily, DowningStudents accommodation is extremely well connected when it comes to using public transport, and is well situated for those of you who want to walk.
By following these suggestions, we think you’ll be genuinely surprised at how much of your student loan you will be able to save and so when you do feel like treating yourself, you’ll have the money to do so!