University. It’s the three most fulfilling years in the life of the student; the parties, the independence, and the ability to create the foundation of learning for your prospective career. But it is also a time of tribulations, problem solving and careful money management. Here are our top 10 tips on how to achieve these highs, and overcome the lows...
1. Open-mindedness: the key to success
When studying and in life, in general, always be willing to learn. University will in itself broaden your horizons, challenge you and provide the platform in which you meet and make friends with those from entirely different cultures and backgrounds to your own. The tip overall is not limit yourself by your own initial ideas. Get experience outside of the campus, such as extra-curricular projects with the community and apply for summer placements, for these will provide you with the tools in which you can develop what you stand for.
2. Accommodation? Withhold the rush
Time and time again there is this fear that if you don’t secure a student house before December, you and your friends will be left without a place. Don’t be tricked by the ploys that this fad can bring. Hasty decisions, always mean the fine lines are almost never picked up on and knowing what you’re liable for is crucial. Look into the many options that Student housing offers; such as lodging and halls of residence, using a letting agency is not the only or cheapest method. Part-time Au pairing (looking after children) is also an option that is usually missed. Whilst being paid for the child-care, you are also able to live at their home either rent-free or at a discounted rental price!
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3. Select the right student account for you
Taking time and selecting the student account that suits you will leave you thanking yourself in the final year. Avoid being tempted by bank’s initial sweet treats & offers, these tend to last for merely a year. What should sway your judgement towards which bank to choose; is the bank that offers the highest interest-free overdraft and the maximum amount of years allowed for you to pay it back, once graduated. Avoid going over your agreed overdraft limit! As this may bring an EAR charge.
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4. One that can loom: The Student & Maintenance Loan
From personal experience, having any debt whether branded ‘good’ or ‘bad’ leads to always an anxious mind. HOWEVER, with the student and maintenance loan, perspective is always the best way to counter-act this feeling. Student loans have the same nature as a mortgage, both are positive investments towards your future. For 2016 applicants, student finance ensures that “you’ll only start making repayments when your income is over the current threshold of £404 a week, £1,750 a month or £21,000 a year.” (gov.co.uk, 2016) but also be aware that your repayment plan is determined by your origin in the UK.
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5. Become a spend-thrift
Whilst stressful, if wise, university can make you into a brilliant money manager and also a pro- thrifter! Yes, you will always be tight on money as a student, but keeping regular tabs with online banking and spread sheeting for each prospective month can help avoid any over-expenditures. But at the same time- do treat yourself- you’re at Uni!
6. Socials: Go out of your comfort zone
Join socials and join those that challenge you! Never been zorbing? Try it. Never been one for sport? Now is your time to really test that thought. It’s the easiest way to socialise, hence ‘socials’, and will cure any home sickness that may be hitting you in the first year. Likewise, don’t be disappointed if it’s not right for you, there are plenty more socials to explore.
7. Get a part-time job!
Whilst you can receive a maintenance loan, the amount is determined by your guardian’s household salary. And whilst it’s a safeguard, having a part-time job allows you to have a little extra for those nights out and unexpected expenditures. It also looks great on your CV; it tells future employers that you can multi-task, uphold a routine and manage your time!
8. You can still whip up amazing meals on a small budget
The typical image that emerges from the words ‘cooking’ and ‘student’ tends to be one of microwave meals and baked beans on toast. But you don’t have to go this way, a great item to buy is a casserole dish; the recipes that these gem can conjure is endless- savoury or sweet. Better yet, leave your delicious meal to cook from three to nine hours (depending on required tenderisation) on mid heat. Of course this means you get on with your day of lectures, work and leisure. In terms of cost-effectiveness when buying your supplies, locate your local markets and butchers, for these are the ideal spots to grab a deal on and receive worth-while cooking advice too!
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Whilst you still have your vacations, why not travel once your semester has ended? Save up during those semester months and with a little extra help from the interest-free agreed overdraft, away you shall travel! These experiences can be invaluable in how you respond to your field of study.
And keep up to tabs on the seasonal deals that arise. Booking way in advance can reduce costs by up to 60% but alternately via lastminute.com you can get some deals on flights and hotels. For a true experience of living there, why not stay in a host’s home, book up with Airbnb!
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10. Fully-fledged and graduated? Open your options with an internship
For those that don’t necessarily want to continue further education or dive into a permanent job once graduating, a paid internship is the way to go. These can range from one month to a full year, and what this provides you with are: options, experience and connections. From first year, join specialised mailing lists that daily update you on vacancies. It enables you to have the time to collect your thoughts on your career path and reflect on what you want to pursue from your degree. It is after all, what you make of it from here on!