Remember when you opened your student account and got that lovely gift from the bank (the one and only gift you will ever get out of them), and the satisfying feeling when your student loan was deposited in it? You threw frugality out the window because you believed there was no way you could blow through that much dough, only to be grateful at the end of the semester for the zero interest overdraft. Leeds student accommodation, nights out, food; it’s all a drain on finances. So here are some tips for debt damage limitation:
Cook big, eat cheap. A great way to be social and reduce food costs is to cook enormous pots of stew, chilli, jambalaya, or Bolognese for all your flatmates. Of course, you’ve all got to take turns. It builds trust and responsibility, and will probably save you a few pennies in the long run. The takeaways are always stuffing your letterbox with leaflets, offering a tempting excuse not to cook, and pub food can so easily be ordered with your next pint, but it’s the supermarkets that have the bulk rice.
One of the things the university prospectus’ don’t tend to harp on too much about is the amount of money you’ve got to spend on textbooks for particular courses. It can be quite a nasty surprise to find you’ve got to shell out £40 for a textbook you’re only going to use for one semester. Look ahead to what you’ll need for upcoming modules and buy second hand where you can. They make this harder by releasing new editions every couple of years, which they say you must use, but hunt hard, because buying new is horrifically expensive.
Rethink your mobile plan. I’ve never understood how some students can justify wasting so much money on their phones. Do you really need 1200 anytime minutes? Exchange the minimum of information instead of chatting about nothing for hours with your mate down the road. If your Leeds student accommodation has a landline, use that instead. Also, make use of Skype! Unlimited texts? What for? Stop with the pointless texts where all you write is “LOL”. Get the cheapest plan you can or go with PAYG. You absolutely do not need a £500 Smartphone.
Discount cards. Being a student means all the shops view you as poor, which is great because they offer discounts of between 5% and 25% when you flash your NUS card, so it’s basically a must have as it soon pays for itself in savings. Same is true for the 16-25 Railcard and First bus passes. Shop at a particular supermarket regularly? Get their store card. All the savings add up massively over the course of a year.
Walk or cycle everywhere. The cost of owning a car is almost as high as renting Leeds student accommodation, and for a student, it is largely unnecessary. Unless pressured for time, the bus is also unnecessary. Due to the traffic and stops every few hundred metres, bikes are often faster than buses anyway. You can pick one up pretty cheap and maintenance costs are low. But walking is completely free. Don’t want to get wet? Buy an umbrella and a raincoat (second hand of course 😉
Get a job! You might have guessed this was coming, but that will do little to soften the blow. There aren’t many courses that truly require full-time dedication, which means you probably have ample time to earn some money. Bar work and leaflet distribution are two of the more typical student earners, but that doesn’t mean you have to narrow your options. Remember, employers are looking for pro-active people, so you’d do well to bolster your CV. Getting a job decreases your debt and increases your employment opportunities. Talk about win-win!
If you do find your bank balance reading -£???, don’t freak out. Unless you’re in the 1%, you’ll probably find yourself in the red at some point in your life. If you’re really in trouble, see your university’s finance office; they have cash set aside that you can borrow just in case. If their students starve to death, they won’t get their tuition fees!