We’ve all been there. At the start of term, we beam with joy when the big lump of student loan appears in our bank accounts. However, after paying for some stupidly expensive rent, some train tickets and a couple of nights out, it’s clear that the money will not last long. So, here’s a list of things you can do to make your student loan last longer.
1. Cook as many home-made meals as possible (and buy the ingredients from Aldi).
Eating out, especially in Brighton, can be very expensive. With the average meal costing around £15, having a few of these a week can set you back a fair amount. Try to home-cook as many meals as possible, using cheap ingredients bought from supermarkets such as Aldi or Asda. Look out for deals, and buy unbranded versions of your usual foods. For instance, instead of buying ‘Salca’ pesto (£2.50 in Tesco) for your classic pesto pasta dinner, buy the Aldi alternative for 85p. Cooking doesn’t have to be difficult. Buy some basic foods such as pasta, rice, vegetables and meat (or meat alternatives), and look up some simple recipes online. You’ll be amazed how much money you can save if you ditch the meals out, especially if you also stop buying sandwiches on the go, and make a packed lunch.
2. Buy a Railcard
Even though this may seem obvious, railcards are a great way to save money on travel, and are an absolute essential for a student who travels around a lot or commutes to Uni. Purchacing a 16-25 railcard may seem like a bit of a commitment at the time, as they sell for £30 (covering you for a year). However, you get 1/3 off your train fairs, and can save an average of £199 a year, making them very worthwhile. Often with a railcard, getting the train into town from places like Falmer, Moulsecoomb or London Road can be cheaper than getting the bus, so bear that in mind.
3. Use Unidays for discounts on clothes, food and more.
Unidays offers free discounts for sixth-form, college and university students. Sign up for free to access discount codes on all your favourite restaurants such as Bella Italia, Dominoes, Yo Sushi and Zizzi, to save some money on those (occasional) meals out. Use on your clothes shops too – discounts are available for places like Asos, Urban Outfitters, Boohoo and Adidas, so you don’t have to feel as guilty about splurging some of your loan on a new pair of trainers.
4. Pre-drink at home, and buy minimal drinks in the club
One of the best parts of a night out is the pres. The games, the photos, and playing your own music while probably annoying the neighbours. With a double vodka and mixer costing around £5 in a club, it’s a no brainer to drink your own alcohol at home beforehand, and only buy one or two drinks while out to keep you going. However, if you do plan on getting drunk in the club or pub, at least look out for student deals, as you can definitely find some bargains. Try ‘Trash Mondays’ at Coalition, ‘C U next Tuesday’ at the Arch, ‘Donuts’ at Patterns, ‘£2 night’ at Ye Olde King and Queen, or ‘Friday I’m in love’ at Coalition.
5. Plan some fun nights in
You don’t have to go out to have fun, you just need good company. Plan a movie night with your friends, invite people round for fajitas, have a BBQ in the garden or play a game of beer pong at the kitchen table. Going out usually leads to expense; bus tickets, drinks, entry costs and so on. So why not socialise from the comfort of your own home, and maybe even get an early night and go to your 9am the next day?
6. Work out at home, and cancel your gym membership
Gym memberships can be extremely expensive, and are often not used as much as they should be. Think about the kind of workouts you do at the gym and ask yourself whether they could be replicated at home. If you’re a cardio person who spends a lot of time on the running machines or exercise bikes, could you maybe take up running outdoors instead? If you spend most of your time doing sit-ups, squatting, or doing the plank, you can easily do these on your bedroom floor on a yoga mat. It might be worth investing in some weights or resistance bands to use at home, to increase the quality of your home workouts, as this will still be cheaper than paying for the gym every month.