How to make your money go further:
Rising costs and interest rates are affecting us all. Your latest student loan instalment may look like very generous funding, but you’ll be surprised how quickly it can be used up. While there are hundreds of articles and resources for students struggling with financial issues, reading about it can lead to feelings of uncertainty. The points below will help you consider some key ideas that are accessible and will help you manage day-to-day running costs.
While it can feel unnecessary, taking the time to break down your latest loan instalment into a weekly budget is the smartest way to avoid stress and feel confident that you will be covered until the next payment comes through. Budgeting apps and websites (like Save the Student) can keep track of ins and outs and have the added benefit that it will help you see any extra spending patterns you have, and help you figure out what areas you can cut down and save on. If you can, try and spend some time researching any upcoming financial changes you may need to consider, such as a reduced student loan during your placement year.
2. Look into offers
A lot of businesses will tempt you with freebies, discounts, or cashback - however this can lead to you spending more than you would originally, so be careful! Thankfully, there are trustworthy student websites online that collate the best offers, such as the ‘Best free stuff in the UK’ ‘Best free trials’ and ‘Limited time freebies’. If you don’t have an overdraft and are struggling, do remember that an interest-free overdraft provides an extra security net. There is nothing wrong in needing to use one, especially when the alternative is very high interest – however, do remember that the amount will need to be repaid.
Top tip: Banks will usually sweeten deals with interesting free enticements, but make sure to prioritise an interest-free overdraft when choosing your account.
3. Account for hidden costs
When negotiating long term contracts like bills and gym memberships, make sure to factor into account hidden costs (such as signing up fees, router chargers etc), and consider these points on rent and hidden costs if you are moving into private accommodation at the start of next academic year. If you are in halls this will tend to be included, but do remember to check if your accommodation has insurance or if you are covered by your parents’ policy. Similarly, do ask for help if you are unsure what exemptions you are eligible for (such as tax rebates), and make sure to ask about cashback opportunities if you are not fully using a service (for example, students paying for a tv licence can have a partial refund for the months you are back home).
4. Get thrifty
Becoming thrifty will help you save money in many areas of your life. Another way to be creative is by cooking more from scratch; not only is it an important skill, but meal prep and batch cooking are more cost effective, great substitutes for a takeaway for nights you don´t want to spend time in the kitchen, and a great way to socialise with friends or housemates. Charity shops and resale apps are full of beautifully crafted and rare to find pieces, cheaper than most shops, and a sustainable way to find (or sell) hidden treasures. Consider buying textbooks second-hand from students above you – not only will you break even once you pass it on to the next set of students, but it will be an excellent way to declutter too! Tips on becoming thriftier can be found all over the internet, but this guide on sustainable shopping is a perfect place to start your research (covering the benefit of buying second-hand, ways to find second-hand clothes in your style, how to buy cheap sustainable fashion, upcycling tips, sustainable costume design, building a sustainable fashion career and tips for buying new ethical clothing).
5, Credit, emergency funds and additional help
A key thing to remember is that student loans will not affect your credit rating, but other forms of borrowing will – such as ‘buy now, pay later’ schemes. Arranged overdrafts will minimally affect your credit rating (if at all), which is why it is always advisable to opt for that over credit (especially for higher sums of money). If you do end up choosing to apply for credit, do try to make as many repayments as possible on time, but don’t let concerns about rating get in the way of seeking help. The best way to feel prepared is to understand these areas, especially the ones that might be particularly confusing.
In short, a credit score is a type of grading system used by banks and lenders to work out how much money you should be given when you ask to borrow money. If you are a budding entrepreneur or want to buy a house after university, it is very important you get started on improving it nice and early. Good credit score will most likely affect your suitability for: mobile phone contracts, bank accounts, overdrafts, credit cards, insurance where you pay monthly rather than upfront, mortgages and loans (including peer to peer loans).
You can find a comprehensive guide in this page, which covers the importance of credit scores, how they are calculated, how to check your score for free and how to improve it.
If you’re struggling about money, reach for help – don’t ignore the problem! The BU Student Money Advice team is here to help you deal with debt, access emergency funds and other resources for your benefit. Outside of the university, Save the Student is an excellent resource where you can find recommended apps or websites for any of your financial needs.