When your student loan arrives it feels like manna from heaven – all that dolla and SO many things to spend it on. Careful. That sweet, sweet cash can disappear in a flash, especially if you’ve never needed to think about money management before.
These money mistakes freshers make may seem obvious, but they happen more often thank you think. Use this guide, and you and your bank account will thank us at the end of the academic year.
1. Live off takeaways and ready meals
We get it. If you’ve never cooked a meal in your life, the prospect of cooking in a tiny uni kitchen can be quite daunting. It’s easy to slip into a Chicken Cottage habit, but for the sake of your bank account and health, try making meals in bulk for the week in order to save money.
2. Subscribe to services and then don’t use them
Yeah. You know that 3-month free trial of Tidal you signed up for to get Beyoncé’s Lemonade? It’s great if you actually use it, not so great when you forget about signing up and get charged for a service you don’t even use.
Subscriptions to services like Spotify, Netflix and Amazon Prime do add up, so think about the ones you really need and get rid of everything else.
3. Bring a debit card on a night out
Oh man, that’s a rookie error we’ve all made. Keep aside some cash to get home safely, and a finite amount of money for drinks. The later it gets in the night, the more tempting “just one more Vodbull” becomes, after all.
4. Not putting aside a certain part of the student loan in an untouchable account
Out of sight, out of mind. Set up a savings account and make sure you put aside a little bit of money every month to put in it. Treat it like your very own secret vault of treasure a la Scrooge McDuck.
5. Scoffing at the ‘basics’ supermarket range
We promise, the supermarket value range bits and bobs are just as good as the branded ones. A little birdy once told us that the Sainsbury’s Basics range is particularly good – if anyone can verify this, let us know!
6. Buy textbooks that are not touched for the rest of the year
Secondhand = the best hand. Textbooks come at nearly the equivalent cost of an arm and a leg, so definitely wait a bit to get them at your uni’s secondhand book sale.
7. Not keeping track of weekly expenditure
If you don’t know what you’re spending on, you won’t really know which what you should really be cutting down on. Services like Monzo or Cleo help you track your spending by type like ‘Eating Out’ and ‘Transport’, which will help you form better spending habits.
8. Not getting a railcard because the initial cost is too expensive
9. Not getting a part-time job/side hustle
Bar work, becoming a teaching assistant, starting a Depop or Etsy business, writing some freelance articles – the list of things you can do to supplement your maintenance loan is endless. As a bonus, this teaches you transferrable skills you can totally talk about in a job interview.
10. Ignoring your bank balance and going deep into your overdraft
We’ve all winced looking at our bank balance after a night out. The worst thing you can do is to actually ignore it, as you could spiral into debt if you don’t keep an eye out. It may be painful, but force yourself to check your bank balance at least once a week.
11. Agreeing to the first second-year house they see
This may seem premature, but the second-year house hunt commences sooner than you think. Don’t reach the ‘OMG, we don’t have a house’ panic stage in third term and start your house hunt early so you get a better, cheaper deal for next year’s accommodation.
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