Look at your rent. Can you move somewhere cheaper? Or get an extra person in to share the rent?
When you receive your loan at the beginning of the term, either set aside the money required for your rent in an interest-earning separate account, or pay your rent immediately. This is essential if you wish to keep a roof over your head, so try not to get into rent arrears. Remember if you pay monthly rent you will have to continue to pay during the vacations at Christmas and Easter when you might not actually be living in London. Halls of residence and private landlords will also require a deposit.
Could you reduce your costs by walking or cycling? Can you make use of weekly or monthly travelcards or a 18+Student Oyster Photocard from www.tfl.gov.uk which are cheaper? If you run a car, think about selling it – it is a fallacy that cars are cheaper than using public transport. If you travel outside London often, get a Young Person’s Railcard to save money.
Try to use a cut-price store for basics and markets for fruit and vegetables. Invest in a cook book on Healthy Eating on a Budget and cut down on fast food, snacks and eating out which are expensive. Make packed lunches. Share the shopping and cooking with a friend – it’s cheaper. You’ll be healthier as well as richer!
Heating & electricity bills
Put on an extra sweater instead of turning up the heating. Turn heat and lights off when you go out and when you go to bed. Pay in monthly instalments if possible and inform the utility company when you are moving out so that you do not get billed for subsequent occupants. Share cooking rather than doing it individually. Shower instead of bath. Could you get a cheaper deal on energy by switching providers? Which magazine provide advice about switching to other energy providers, including greener options. Visit: www.which.co.uk/switch/
Choose your broadband package very carefully and make sure that you’re not paying more than you have to. The main things you need to consider when comparing broadband deals are the download speed, the monthly usage allowance and the cost. Faster broadband packages and those with high or unlimited download limits usually cost more than basic packages, but do pay the extra if you’re going to download a lot. Otherwise you may find yourself being fined by your provider for going over your limits. Consult Cable.co.uk who offer (Ofcom accredited) price comparisons for cheap deals on broadband and a specific guide aimed at students.
Shop around for a cheap deal on your phone. If you are taking out a contract on the latest smart phone, you will normally be tied to this for 2 years. Include this cost in your monthly budget and work out if you can honestly afford it. If you are topping up a pay-as-you-go phone with £10 a month or more, look out for sim only, contracts that can be cancelled at a months notice. Often these types of contracts will give you more call time, texts and data allowance than topping up.
Try to ration yourself and discover the pleasures of some of the free entertainment in London in parks, museums and galleries. Make use of your NUS membership card to get discounts in certain shops, theatres and travel companies. Use the SOAS Student Union and the University of London Union for ideas on clubs, societies, and all sorts of cheap entertainment.
Avoid using them. If you have one, cut it up and try to pay off the debt in the vacations before the interest cripples you. Use the interest-free student overdraft instead. Consult www.moneysavingexpert.com for a cheaper credit card if you must have one.
Apply for a student bank account with an interest-free overdraft. Use this for emergencies and try to pay it off by working in vacations. When you graduate the interest-free facility ceases. Stay within your authorised overdraft or you will be charged high fees. Money Saving Expert and other price comparison websites will help you find the best deal.
Try to get second-hand books for your course. Look on Students Union and departmental notice boards or consult www.studentbooks.co.uk, Abe Books, Ebay or Gumtree. Use the library and study-packs.
You need your own TV licence if you have a TV in your room in halls or if you share a house with other students and have one in your room. If you share a TV with your housemates you will need a licence. If you’re caught without a valid licence, a fine of up to £1000 could mean curtains for your finances this year. A colour TV licence costs £145.50 and black & white £49.00. Pay online at www.tvlicensing.co.uk
Full-time students are exempt from paying Council Tax. Get a certificate of student status online from the Registry website and take it to your landlord or council tax office if you are sent a bill. If you share with non-students, the property will attract a council tax bill and you might be asked by your flatmates to pay a share.
Ask family for essentials like clothes, shoes, books or money for Christmas and birthday presents. And don’t forget your parents’ birthdays – hopefully they are supporting you and fostering good relations is important.
Help with health costs
If you have to buy regular prescriptions, get your eyes tested or get dental treatment, you may be eligible for help with the costs on the grounds of low income. Request a HC1 form online from the NHS website.
if you have valuables like a computer, bicycle, TV, etc, you should insure them against damage or theft. The cover will be cheaper than the cost of replacement. Halls fees include some insurance – check whether it is enough for you. Check with your parents first, as some household insurance policies can include insurance for students’ possessions for a small additional premium. Or check out Endsleigh or other companies on the web for student policies.