You'll feel minted when your first loan instalment appears on your bank balance, but in the buzz of Freshers' Week, it's easy to put everything on contactless and lose track of your spending. Here are ten ways to get into good money habits now and make your loan stretch even further.
Our research with the University of East Anglia found two thirds of students have never paid a bill, while almost half have never created a financial budget (46%). So if this stuff feels unfamiliar, you're certainly not alone. Life admin sounds boring but when you need to make your money stretch over a term, budgeting is a necessity. Make sure your budget includes rent, food, travel, studying costs (i.e. printing in the library), your phone bill - and all of the fun stuff.
Stick to your budget
"Ok, just this once....". Keep justifying one-off treats in the first few weeks and you're going to be broke before you're halfway through. Little changes can make the world of difference. Don't buy that coffee from the Starbucks on campus every day because it's convenient, instead invest in a travel mug.
Get a bank account with perks
If you haven't yet, sign up for a student bank account that gives you a student railcard for free. That way you can visit home or tour the country visiting your mates at their unis for next to nothing.
Raid the Freshers' Fair
Fresher' Fairs are goldmines if you play the game right. Stash all the free pens and highlighters, accept the discount food vouchers and grab a business card for the cheaper local taxi firms, save money on a diary by accepting a free wall planner. Never pay for condoms - student unions and your local sexual health clinic will have packets of free condoms available.
Make the most of student nights
If you're heading out into town make the most of dedicated student nights in the week. Big city drinking isn't cheap and going out regularly with the locals will be significantly more expensive. If you're up for a weekend night out, most student unions will run a night on a Friday and Saturday.
Sign up for discounts
Save the Student, Student Beans, and UNiDays all offer big pre-arranged discounts on pizza, clothing, experiences, electricals, online streaming, and even a big wedge off your first big supermarket shop if you time it right. Before you buy anything at uni it's worth checking out these sites first. It's also worth checking out and signing up for the NUS Extra card for additional discounts and remember that a few places locally will offer you a discount with your personal uni student ID.
Prioritise buying core textbooks and use the library for the rest
Buying every book on your reading list will break the bank. Prioritise the core text books and make the most of the library for the rest. Buying used books from Amazon and Ebay will save you a decent amount of dosh and the notes scribbled in the pages or the sentences that have been highlighted by the previous owner can be a bonus! When you're done with them after first year, put them straight back on to sites like Amazon, WeBuyBooks or Ziffit and make some of your money back.
Download the essentials on to your laptop rather than splashing out on lots of apps. Also grab a student deal on anti-virus and make sure you install it so you're protected.
Shop off-brand and save money
Aldi and Lidl are your new best friends. They offer pretty much everything other supermarkets do but at half the price. Try to plan meals before your shop so you know exactly what you need to buy and stick to your list, that way you won't waste food or money. If your houseshare is next door to pricier supermarkets try to make the most of their basics ranges and BOGOF offers.
Cook smart. If you're on campus all day, try and take a packed lunch. Ideally think about including a batch of something wholesome like a stew, and carry it with you in a microwavable portable soup mug. Consider buying nourishing filler foods like beans and lentils which you can add to soups, Bolognese and curries, as these will stretch your big batch cooks by another couple of days. Once you've cooked, portion it off and put it in the freezer. If you're short on time, consider buying a small slow cooker. Just add all the contents in the morning and by the time you're back, dinner will be ready. Easy.