Moving away to University can be a daunting experience. You find yourself alone in a new city, surrounded by people you don't know and suddenly you're responsible for your own survival.
It's an exhilarating experience but it can be hard to learn how to manage things like finances appropriately, especially when your student loan comes in and you find yourself with a bank balance ten times as big as you've ever had. It's also worth remembering that even if you're not studying a full undergraduate degree, you're still eligible to receive a student loan on an HNC/HND or on a CertHE.
Here's our five top tips for making your money last between loan instalments, giving you experience of fiscal management and teaching you a valuable life skill along the way.
1. Split the Cash in a Savings Account
When your loan comes in, calculate what your costs of living are going to be each month then work out how many months this instalment has to last before the next one. By moving this into a savings account - which can be opened for free at most banks - you can make sure you have enough money to last the semester. Simply transfer your living costs back into the current account each month. It’s worthwhile taking into account the disposable income you have left over and separating that too, to reduce the temptation to dip into the living cost allowance.
2. Keep Costs Down
Avoid subscriptions where necessary, especially for the first few months. We know that you'll be enjoying your freedom and want to have a similar standard of lifestyle to when you lived at home, but waiting a couple of months to see how sustainable your disposable income is is a better way to manage your finances. Things like Xbox live, Netflix and TV packages like Sky might seem attractive, but they are costly and sometimes involve contracts that can be difficult to get out of if you realise you can't afford them.
3. Find Work Elsewhere
You've come to Uni to study not to work, we know, but there are plenty of jobs out there that cater to the needs of students. Look for retail assistant jobs or bar jobs in the city you are studying in, the odds are that if you are in a big city like Sheffield or Leeds there will be lots of places that will hire you on the understanding that you might not be able to work regular hours and you will be disappearing home throughout the summer months. A side job also helps keep your finances topped up as you can use the income from it as disposable income and keep your student loan for bills and other essentials.
4. All Inclusive Accommodation
Getting your student accommodation all inclusive is a great way to manage your finances. Not only can it work out cheaper this way, it means you only have one bill to consider for your accommodation costs rather than having to keep track of water, gas, rent and other utilities that can get confusing. Browse our own all inclusive student accommodation in Sheffield and Leeds for some examples of what's on offer and what allowances you get for your utilities.
5. Share the Load
Your housemates will often become your best friends in life, and although there may be a few you don't get along with it is all part of gaining your independence. When you have found some housemates that you like and have forged a strong friendship, you might want to consider sharing the cost of living. Four of you doing a big food shop each week or getting a Costco membership will be much cheaper than if you were to do it yourself and it will teach you to be accountable to others - a valuable life skill.