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Living on a typical student budget can be hard. Did you know that a Save the Student study published recently discovered that 78% of university students are stressed about money? And that some students struggle to eat or drink, let alone socialise, enjoy their experience. This based on the typical student budget of your average student, not fringe cases.
On top of that, 61% of students who get a Maintenance Loan say it’s not enough to live on. Many students complain that their maintenance loan doesn’t even cover rent, which leaves them living off of pasta, and ticking off every other cash-strapped student cliche.
In fact, it’s so bad that Jake Butler, the money expert at Save the Student, said this:
When it comes to student loans, the focus always seems to be on the £9,250 tuition fees or the extortionate interest. But the real issue is the insultingly low maintenance loans alongside the government’s unwillingness to admit that parents are expected to make up the shortfall…The government needs to put an end to this confusion by being more explicit about parental contributions and/or increase the maintenance loan amount so that it is actually in line with real living costs.
However, we’re not going to get on our high horse about how the student loan system is flawed, or moan about the changes the government need to make to support the next generation, because that doesn’t help you — the person trying to get by on a typical student budget — right now.
So, we thought we’d fill this article with student budget tips that’ll make your typical student budget stretch further.
Typical student budget:7 ways to make your student loan stretch further
#1 Learn to budget for university
In the old days of the early 2000s, budgeting for university used to mean downloading a student budget spreadsheet from the internet, waiting 15 minutes for Excel to open and then painstakingly entering everything about your predicted incomings and outgoings. But it’s 2018, so now you don’t have to worry about that palaver. Now, of course, there’s apps that handle all of that for you.
We’ve written about budgeting apps a lot in the past, if you want to do a thorough investigation, but we’ve picked out two apps that we think could make a huge difference to stretching your typical student budget a little further:
Chip (iOS and Android):
Using AI and algorithms to calculate how much you can afford to save every day, Chip takes regular payments out of your account and puts them in a savings account, letting them slowly build up and accumulate interest, which means you get to build a nice chunk of savings without even realising it. Plus, the app is full of puns and gifs, which is far more fun to use than your regular banking app.
Squirrel (iOS and Android):
In a nutshell, what the Squirrel app does is to split your incoming money categories; commitments (things like bills, rent, etc.), savings (you get to decide how much you want to save) and spending money. So far, so bland, right? Well, then it divides your spending money into weekly installments and transfers you your allowance at the beginning of each week. If you’re in a pinch, you can transfer more. Although it sounds a little juvenile, if your student budget is really tight, Squirrel can help you stretch your money a little further.
However, if you still want to use a good ol’ budgeting for university spreadsheet, this one from Save the Student is pretty great.
#2 Embrace the discounts
We know that every student in the country knows the awesome power of using their student discount in Topshop, Spotify and McDonalds. If you want to brush up and get thrifty, UNiDAYS is a great place to find every student discount under the sun!
It’s also worth applying for a tastecard, if you like to eat out every now and again. They can nab you up 50% off food at a huge number of restaurants.
But we just wanted to add one more thing: don’t be nervous about asking for student discount in places that don’t necessarily advertise it online (especially local businesses). You’ll be surprised what a casual ‘you don’t do student discount at all, do you?’ at the checkout can get you.
#3 Save £££ on textbooks by using Bibliotech
Every university student has experienced the pain of buying an incredibly overpriced textbook, only to find out that you only need to read one chapter for a topic that’s not even going to be on the exam paper. Bibliotech, a start-up based in London, are looking to stop that from ever happening again. For just £2.99 a month (after a free trial), they’re giving you unlimited access to a huge number of academic texts and textbooks. Plus, you can download them onto your phone, tablet or laptop and save your back the hassle of having to lug around 5kg textbooks.
#4 Get free food
The wizards over at Save the Student are so well-versed in the art of making a typical student budget stretch as far as it can that they’ve managed to put together a guide to eating for free. From working in restaurants (free food and extra cash!) to foraging, there’s plenty of advice in here that will keep your stomachs and your wallets full up.
#5 Learn to cook
If there’s a surefire way of stretching your typical student budget without sacrificing on happiness, it’s learning to cook things beyond pasta. Knowing how to cook and cupboard stocked with a few herbs, spices and seasoning and some fresh, cheap ingredients (Lidl and Aldi are great for students) can mean the difference between boring, soul-destroying food and a meal that tastes good and cheers you up.
There’s no end of food cooking lessons and shows on YouTube, so now you don’t even need to take a cooking class. We love Binging with Babish, if you’re looking for a place to start. And the best thing about it? Once you’ve got the basics down, you can turn the reduced produce from supermarkets into an tasty meal that would cost a lot more if you went out to eat. Not to mention, there’s no quicker way to be the most popular person in halls than to be “The One Who Cooks Awesome Food”!
#6 Travel on a budget
Being a student isn’t all about time spent in the library or wondering how to make your typical student budget stretch to a night out, it’s also about your first taste of freedom, new experiences and seeing different parts of the world. If your time away has stoked your wanderlust, but your bank account doesn’t look like it’ll stretch to more than a trip to the seaside, we’ve got you. We’ve put together a guide on ways to save money when you’re travelling abroad (and some of them can really keep the costs down).
#7 Start a side hustle
Whether you’re good at maths, writing or an instrument, there’s usually a way you can turn that into some extra money. Your side hustle could be anything from driving for Uber to writing articles online to tutoring other students, and could bring in a couple of hundred pound a month, giving you some extra cash to make your life easier or more enjoyable. Plus, there’s no end of students that have started businesses in university and then continued running them once they’ve left! If you’re looking for somewhere to start, Student Block has a great guide on side hustles you can run from your halls.
If you’re looking for more ways to make your typical student budget stretch further, check out the Frugal Lifestyle section of the Bamboo Blog. It’s full of advice on how to make your money stretch much further!
- Author The Bamboo Team
- Posted 15 October 2018