“HELP! I’ve run out of money” – every student in the land.
It’s an awful feeling when you find the courage to check your bank balance and realise you’re out of cash. Unfortunately, financial independence can leave some students out of pocket for prematurely splashing their loan on accommodation, food and socialising.
Student loans pay the initial tuition expenses; but sometimes, maintenance loans barely cover the cost of accommodation. So, what are the next steps when you run out of money at university? Fear not - we’ve got some solutions!
Curb the spending
Realistically, you cannot stop spending completely – you still need to survive. Accommodation, bills and food don’t magically pay for themselves (if only!). But you can make cutbacks. Our best advice is to check bank statements to see where your money is going and find cheaper alternatives.
For example, if you spend a lot on takeaways, quit the eating out habit and cook in with housemates. Maybe you’re paying for an expensive phone contract or gym membership? Haggle a lower deal which has you paying out less. You’ll be surprised by the big difference these small changes can make.
Learn money-saving techniques
We hate to sound like a moaning parent…but we’re going to say it anyway! Treat this as a harsh lesson. Money doesn’t grow on trees so don’t spend like it does. It’s always a good idea to make a weekly or monthly budget to cut out extravagant spending.
If you still find yourself living a champagne lifestyle on a lemonade budget, consider getting a part-time job that won’t intervene with your studies too much. The flexible hours involved in retail, hospitality and freelance work make them great options for cash-strapped students. Read our guide on the 6 Best Student Jobs for more advice.
All universities offer hardship funds designed for students in financial trouble. If you find yourself in an unexpected financial crisis; you can apply directly to your university, who will decide whether to pay out and how much you will get.
You can also hunt down other funding methods that don’t need to be repaid; taking your household income and financial circumstance into account, you may be entitled to other grants or bursaries.
Check your overdraft
Now treat this one with caution. An overdraft is a way to borrow money from your bank for a short period. Essentially the bank allows you to lend more money than you have (hence why you need to be careful).
Don’t act like this money is your own because it’s not. Avoid unnecessary purchases and use it to get your finances back on track. Most student overdrafts are interest-free unless you go over the limit. But beware… if you haven’t set up this service you will be charged for an unauthorised overdraft.
Borrow money from family or friends
Borrowing from relatives or friends can act as emergency money without the soaring interest rates. But you want to avoid risking good relationships by making sure the terms are clear on both sides.
There’s a few things to consider before requesting a temporary loan from someone you know – Are you comfortable with asking? Does the person have the cash to lend you? Do you have a plan in place?
It’s a good idea to have a sense of the budget, how it will be spent and when you will repay them.
Seek out student support
There is a wide range of economic support available to students struggling financially. All universities have a financial support office responsible for providing information on scholarships, studentships and other monetary aid.
Speaking to an advisor might point you in the right direction for additional help. The university support team are there to give guidance on any issues that could impact on your wellbeing so use their services.
Get paid work
Put simply - to spend more money, you need to make more money. If you’re struggling to curb your spending, part-time work is the answer. Most universities recommend students work 16 hours maximum to find the perfect work-study balance.
Get creative with your money-making methods. Are you an avid dog-lover? Consider dog-walking to boost your profits. Perhaps you’re interested in arts and crafts? Make your passion a cash-flow exercise by selling some of your work online or at local art fairs.
Be imaginative to transform your hobby into a side-line money-spinner.