Uni is a great time to learn how to be good with money

Finance is probably the most common thing that consumes a student's mind. We are constantly stressing about being too broke to afford a decent meal or entry to the best clubs. Praise be to the student loan - it's there for us during the rough times and we can always rely on it. But like all good things, it comes to an end – for some more quickly than others.

Where does our student loan go? This is a question our parents are always asking. We can now all tell them that it goes on life-size statues of celebrities and kangaroo steaks.

According to a new study carried out by Money Dashboard, one in five students have bought at least one unusual item with their student loan. The same number admit to lying to their parents about where their money goes. After hearing the top 10 most unusual items bought, are we surprised?

Money Dashboard has revealed that the top 10 most unusual items bought with a student loan are:

  • A bust of Elvis Presley
  • An elephant's foot umbrella stand
  • A life-size statue of Nicolas Cage
  • Decorative swords
  • A monk's robe
  • Kangaroo steaks
  • A giant inflatable bat
  • Krill oil
  • A Newton's cradle
  • A ceramic owl

It may be that fancy dress and themed nights out are the reason behind this madness, as it is most certainly not for educational purposes that students feel the need to buy a life-size statue of Nicolas Cage.

Maya Esslemont, 22, a politics and international relations student at the University of Kent, made her friends laugh when she bought a superhero costume with her loan.

“When I first got my student loan, my flat mates tried to stop me from buying a hyper-realistic Spiderman costume for £40. Obviously I ignored them, and was soon celebrating, dressed like everybody's favourite arachnid superhero,” she said.

“Everybody just thought it was hilarious, and rightly withdrew their reservations.”

Iona Bain, founder of the Young Money Blog, thinks it is perfectly normal for students to want to fit in and buy exciting items.

"Using your student loan to buy wacky items and extravagant outfits is understandable. We are under constant pressure to keep up with our peers and be the life and soul of the party when we're young.

“Buying trophy items or splashing out on fancy dress shows what an absolute legend you are, and this helps to oil the wheels of your social life - crucial when you're away from home for the first time, perhaps in a strange city, and needing to feel that you 'belong',” she said.

If we really are just trying to fit in, why are we so scared to tell our parents? The research found that 8% of students never discuss their finances at home. Belfast students are the biggest culprits, with 41% admitting they are rarely honest with their parents about their spending. Norwich students on the other hand are the most honest, with just over 80% saying they are truthful about where their money goes.

Iona continued to say that although it is a fun idea to be a bit reckless with our money every now and again, it is important to learn from the financial mistakes we make.

She said: “We're bound to be experimental with our income, buy questionable items and make mistakes, especially when we're young. But no-one has to learn about debt the hard way, and it's essential to use our precious funds to fulfill our personal needs, not to fit in with friends or conform to materialistic expectations.”

However, some of the UK's students have actually been investing in getting their finances and houses in order, with a coin counter jar, Bitcoin and “a dust buster with corner attachment” being signs of practical spending.

Megan Webster, 20, an early childhood studies student from Anglia Ruskin University, says that she spends her money wisely.

“I spend my student loan very sensibly. I believe it is for the purpose of living expenses so I choose to spend mine on car insurance and car tax, and save my work wages for more leisurely things,” she said.

It's perfectly normal to treat ourselves every so often, and although some of us may go a little over the top with our spending, we do seem to understand the consequences and learn from them, eventually.

Posted by Katie Palmer, Student Money Maestro

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All content is for informational purposes only and is the opinion of the author. Nothing on this website should be interpreted as "advice". Money Dashboard Ltd make no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors or omissions or any damages arising from its display or use.

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