Budget: 3 Ways to make your student loan last

15 Mar 2018
By Tom S., Student at Sheffield Hallam University

One of the most exciting things about starting uni is receiving your student loan. You probably won’t have seen so much money before, and could be tempted to splash out on new clothes or gadgets.

But, now you’re living independently, you really need to take care of your money. It’s very easy to lose track of your spending and end up scrimping to climb out of your overdraft.

The first key step in budgeting is knowing how much money you actually have.

With these three simple steps, you can tighten your purse strings and ensure you’re not rummaging through cupboards at Easter to steal a slice of bread.

1) Calculate your income and essential costs

The first key step in budgeting is knowing how much money you actually have.

Work out how much you have coming in - from your student loan, any part-time jobs, or the bank of mum and dad.

Then, go through your bank statements and calculate how much you spend each month on essentials like your phone bill, food, and rent.

Subtract what you spend from your income, and whatever you have left you can use to treat yourself now and again.

It might seem simple and obvious, but this is genuinely the only way to budget.

2) Keep track of your non-essential costs

In addition to working out your initial budget for the essential stuff, it’s worth keeping track of everything else you spend in a week.

Some people find it useful to keep their receipts for every purchase, giving them a visual reminder of where their money is going.

I find this creates too much clutter. So I use the free money tracking app Oval Money instead. It keeps tabs on how much you’ve spent, and helps you save money by rounding up your spends to the nearest pound.

For example, if you spend £2.50 on a coffee before lectures, the app will take a further 50p and put it away for you. This method soon racks up cash that you forget you even had – I saved almost £200 over the summer just by using the app!

Read more: 6 Brilliant budgeting apps for students

3) Shop on the cheap

For many students, doing a food shop is a completely alien concept. The important things when shopping are: get what you need to eat well, and get it within budget.

Shop at cheaper supermarkets like Aldi to save a shedload of cash over the course of the year. This will leave you with more for a cheeky pint or two on a night out.

Buying own-brand products rather than the branded stuff is another good tactic. Aldi baked beans are just as good as Heinz, and so much cheaper.

Also, look out for bargains. Most shops heavily reduce their fresh stock every evening. The clearance shelf is a student goldmine, and you can pick up some major steals if you time it right. I once bought a whole chicken for just 37p!

Have fun too, and ask for help if you need it

While budgeting at uni is really important, make sure you don’t let it stop you having fun. You can spend responsibly and have a great social life at the same time. In fact, spending responsibly is how you’ll have a great social life.

If you do run into money troubles though, don’t suffer – speak to your parents, friends, or your university’s student services, financial support or student finance team.

The first key step in budgeting is knowing how much money you actually have.
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Tom is a Geography student at Sheffield Hallam, and is currently on a placement year.