Published March 21, 2018

5 Ways to Make Your Student Loan Last the Summer

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When it comes to student finance, summer term is a mixed bag. You’ll get slightly more maintenance loan to tide you over the long break (unless it’s your final year, in which case you’ll get less). Either way, it’s not always enough to live on: time to break out the tweaks!

1. Get realistic

A good rule of thumb is to revisit your budget any time your situation changes (new job, ex-job, Lotto windfall, or whatever). The same applies as you head into summer, when income and spending-patterns can look quite different than during term.

Start by listing everything you’ll need to pay for over the next few months, along with how much income you can count on during that time. You’ll probably find your loan installment gives you pretty skimpy coverage – but it’s better to know upfront!

2. Draw up a weekly allowance

Once you’ve totted up your income, divide it by the number of weeks it has to last and, whatever other cash comes your way, try not to spend more than this weekly allowance. Not only will dealing it out stop you blowing your loan too early, but underspending in the long run could also leave you with with savings to bankroll next term, too.

For most students, paying rent upfront won’t leave much left to play with – but the next step can even things out in your favour.

3. Stockpile money-makers

If there’s any chance money will be tight in the next few months, sniff out other income asap:

Loads of student money-makers can be carried out without much fuss. Unlike regular employment, you can do these as and when you have time, so they fit around studies, travel and other commitments.

Check out passive income – things you can make once and sell multiple times. You can sell digital photos to stock libraries, publish eBooks at Smashwords, and even profit from print-on-demand artwork through the likes of Redbubble.

Got clothes, books, or gadgets you haven’t used since Freshers’ Week? Start listing them for sale online or around campus now.

Have a priority list for SOS cash. Top of the deck should be your savings, family handouts, and a 0% overdraft (or, if you’re disciplined about paying it back, a 0% credit card). Keep borrowing that comes with fees, interest, or penalty charges at the back of the pack. Don’t touch private or payday loans unless you’ve talked to the welfare team and have ruled out cheaper options.

4. Slash your costs

Pause what you don’t need or can live without over summer, i.e. TV licence, gym membership, season tickets, or subscriptions. For everything else (from groceries to mobile bills), make it your aim to shave even just a fiver off regular costs: shop around or switch providers if you need to.

Be strategic about downsizing, though. If you really need a bike to get to work, for instance, there’s no point buying a rustbucket and paying to patch it up every five mins. Save up in advance, get the right tool for the job, and it’ll cost you less in the long run!

5. Exhaust freebies before paying for stuff

You don’t need to switch mobile provider to get Three’s Wuntu or O2’s Priority deals (just request a free sim to get started). Both give you a regular crop of freebies, such as coffee and snacks, audiobooks, digital mags, and prize-draws.

Not had an Amazon Prime Student free trial yet? Line it up now for six months of free movies, music, and next-day delivery. If you’ve already paid for Amazon Prime, you can even request a refund if you switch to the student subscription. If Amazon’s not your bag, check out free film-trials with Netflix, Now TV, and BFI Player+: schedule the freebie for your slackest month, or see if you can rotate it among housemates for year-round viewing.

Best of the rest

  • Claim free beauty samples from department store counters: you can always re-gift or sell them for profit.
  • Swap paid-for gym membership with free community runs, health-club tester days, or, if there’s one near you, a free park gym.
  • Boots and Tesco run user panels, where they send products to members to try out for free. Check if your fave retailers run similar schemes.
  • Whether you’re moving home, need a lift, or fancy a new TV, try swapping instead of paying up. You can offer stuff you already own or barter your time in return for the things you need.

The sums behind student finance assume that most students – and living costs – go into cryogenic stasis over summer, but when money’s tight, the last thing you want is to sleep on the job! Plan ahead, cut your costs, and use your skills (or your studies) to bring in extra income if you need it. It’s not always easy, but it can be done – and it all helps.

Guest blog written by Ruth Bushi, an editor at Save the Student – the UK’s largest student money advice site.

Student finance calculator

If this is the case, don’t worry. To see how much maintenance you’ll receive, you can go to the government’s official student finance calculator. If you don’t think your loan will stretch far enough, see below for ways to make a bit more money.

We all have to make ends meet! It’s easy once you get a bit savvier about things.

Shop smarter

The golden rule when it comes to food shopping is to never do a big shop on an empty stomach. You’ll find yourself succumbing to your bellyaches, and before you know it you’ve got a trolley full of Pop Tarts and share-bag crisps – i.e. a trolley full of nothing.

Look for reduced-price foods, and find out what time the supermarkets roll out their reduced products. You might benefit from buying in bulk, too. If you can freeze your foods, even better.

We actually wrote a whole blog on the subject: find out how to do an efficient food shop.

Part-time work helps

The average student ends up having to get a part-time job at some point in their academic career. It’s the easiest way to add a stable cash flow to your finances, and a bit of part-time work can give you a great bit of work experience (it all helps on the graduate market).

If you’re extra-savvy, you can even sell your skills to websites like Upwork or Fiverr and make your start as a freelancer. To find out more ways to earn on a part-time basis, check out our blog.

“Hospitality and retail are good areas for you to get into; although they aren’t the most glamorous, they do give you the flexibility you need to work around your studies” Charles Eames The New York Times

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Get all the freebies you can

If you know, you know. There are lots of discounts you can take advantage of, like two-for-one tickets at your local cinema or a trial of Amazon Prime Student. The app Wish, for example, gives you loads of little freebies, from funky USB pens to colourful post-it notes.

As a student, you’re also eligible for discounts in most high-street stores. You’ll receive 15% off all Macs and MacBooks at Apple, 30% off HP items, and a huge 50% off Norton Security.

Here, we wrote a bit more on the subject of making the most of your student loan.

It’s not all so bad

There you have it: in the scenario that your maintenance loan doesn’t cover all of your expenses, there are loads of ways you can save money, and even make a bit more. If it does cover your expenses, you’re sorted! Like we said, budgeting is vital at uni, so with the above tips you’ll be fine.

It’s also vital to live in a place that’s right for you. find your perfect pad with us, or email us on student.enquiry@mearsgroup.co.uk.

The way you want it

Got any questions?

Fill out the form to the right and one of our staff at Mears Student Life will get back to you as soon as possible to help you with your query.

Great offers up for grabs

From a FREE dual occupancy, £150 group booking voucher, to cashback for a friend referral, the choice is yours*

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