Going to university is exciting, but also scary for many people. You have the chance to move out of family home, become your own person, and study something you love. It does come with responsibilities though. Dealing with your own finances is one of the less fun aspects of living on your own, but it needs to be done. Student loans are the number one way to keep your bank account in the black, but sometimes you need a little extra help throughout the year.
There are so many ways to budget, written in many different books and documented well on the internet. For some, it can be a simple task to take on, and others find it a bit more difficult. For a basic budgeting schedule, you first need to make a note of all the things you spend money on. Absolutely everything. This can include:
- University equipment (books, notepads etc.)
- Bills (water, gas, electric, internet, TV license)
- Going out
- Hobbies and societies
Everyone is different and enjoys different things, so your list won’t be the same as your flatmates’. Once you have accounted for all your spending needs, start allocating the money you have available each term to the different activities. Stick to it as much as possible and change it where you need to, but always keep strict control on your spending.
Part Time Job
The first thing to do if you know you won’t be able to live solely off your loan is look for a part time job. Working whilst studying can be difficult, but it’s a great way to learn how to manage your time. It’s best to work no more than 10 hours per week, as doing more can interfere with your studies. The Student Union at your university should be recruiting for promoters for the clubs, bar staff and shop workers when the new term starts, and they understand your need for time to study.
Look around for big chain stores who are hiring for the holidays. They offer part time or holiday contracts that are perfect for students. You can opt out of them at the end of the season if working and studying is too much to handle at the same time. Being a student can sometimes put off potential employers, but some will jump at the chance of having someone to help out for a few hours a week. It also looks good on your CV that you can hold down a job and study.
Students have the luxury of getting a lot of benefits and deals and one of these is an interest free overdraft. These can range from £500 to £2,000, depending on your bank and current year at university. This acts as a bumper to your bank account, with interest free money that you can pay back, in your own time. Most students do this on their next loan installment. Although it means you’ll be in debt, you don’t have to worry about the interest rates creeping up and costing you more than you are borrowing.
Be careful of your limit though. By going over the limit on your overdraft, you can incur some heavy fines from your bank that will be due immediately.
Getting a payday loan is the last resort to any short term financial problem. Payday loans are the process of borrowing a small amount of money and paying in back in a short amount of time at a fixed interest rate. If you’re really strapped for cash a few weeks before your next loan installment, payday loans can help with a quick influx of cash. The interest rate is usually reasonable, at around £20-30 per £100 borrowed, but make sure that this is paid back on time. Ensure that the date you set to pay it back by is well within the time slot to get your loan, else you’ll be paying back more than you can afford.
Most universities will have a finance service that will help you to budget and get your finances under control. Learning valuable life skills like this so early on are essential later on in life, as from now on, the money you spend will be your own. Ask your parents as well, as they will have life experience on the subject of finance. It’s about trial and error with different techniques, and eventually, you’ll find a way to manage your money successfully.
Photo by: Phil Roeder