University can form some of the best years of your life, and it's also a great opportunity to start taking control of your finances. Money Dashboard exists to help you make better financial decisions, and that's why we've pulled together six of the best tips to help you extend the life of your student loan.
1. Budget, budget, budget
With your student loan arriving in large lump sums, it's important to resist the temptation to head out on a spending spree, and to instead create a proper budget. You should think about your expenses on a term-by-term basis - you'll need enough money to cover rent, food, and travel, as well as new study books, university club membership fees, and even group trips abroad.
That's where Money Dashboard comes in. Our free budgeting tool can help you make better financial decisions by making it simple to see your outgoings on a daily, monthly and annual basis. It's quick to create your own personal budget, and you can see exactly how much money you have left after the essentials are accounted for.
2. Cut course costs
While you'll need the right materials each term, don't buy all of your books straight from the shop - every university has a place for people to advertise, buy and sell second-hand textbooks and other essentials. Just make sure that the books aren't too out of date, especially if you're studying a fast-changing subject like law or economics.
If you've been beaten to it and all the copies are gone, check eBay, local second-hand book shops and even the Internet for e-book versions. Your other option is to make the library your second home.
3. Student card
The trusty student card will be your best friend throughout your time at university, so be sure to get hold of one as soon as you can.
You can get a discount of between 5% and 50% at retailers such as Spotify, Amazon, McDonalds and thetrainline, and while an NUS card costs £12, the money off restaurants, nightclubs and gyms across three years (and for longer as a graduate) make it more than worth it.
4. Council tax discount
If you're not living in halls then council tax will be applied to your property. Thankfully, all students are exempt. It's your responsibility to let the council know, though, so apply for an exemption through your local council website as soon as you move in.
If you live with one non-student, they can also apply for a discount check with your local authority for details.
5. Shop smart
There's no shame in rummaging around in the bargain bin when you're at uni. Look out for bulk-buy options, end-of-the-day deals and special offers to help stretch your loan to its limits. You should also be on the lookout for loyalty schemes that offer coupons and rewards; you can sign up for free at Tesco, Sainsbury's and Boots, as well as at several high street chains like Nandos and Starbucks.
6. Get selling
You can make your money last even longer by selling or upcycling your old possessions.
Sell unwanted CDs, DVDs and games using sites like musicmagpie, and clothes on Asos Marketplace. For a brand new twist on some of your classic clothes or furniture, upcycle them with a little help from thrifty blogs like Upcycle That. You can even recycle old mobiles for cash. The opportunities are limitless.
Posted by Money Dashboard