Going into rented accommodation with only a student loan to support you can be intimidating, especially when you’re going into a private tenancy in the middle of a city. Going into it with absolutely no idea what the average pricing is of the area or not knowing how to deal with agencies and landlords can be hard to deal with, but it isn’t impossible, even if it feels like it.
I live on a main road in one of the priciest towns in my city. I’m paying close to £600 a month in rent and bills, and I’m completely reliant on my student loan. This is my first year at university, and this isn’t uncommon. The place I study is in a very posh area, and with the unpredictable and late hours we work, living out of the area isn’t the best idea. Considering there are two other universities in the area, the rent in accommodation isn’t exactly cheap. I know a lot of my friends who live in the area are paying around the same as me, or even more a month. Budgeting sounds impossible when you’re paying that much a month, but there are some ways around it. Here’s what I’ve learnt over the last six months -
Get a budget book - This sounds so stupid, but I recently got a budget book and it’s saved my life. I’m tracking what I’m spending every month and it gives me a basic idea of what I’m spending money on. It’s simple but I love it.
Budget before you pay your first lot of rent - Student loans come through in blocks at the beginning of term. I budgeted my first term before I even moved just to make sure that I’d have enough to live on. I looked at how much I had to spend a week and that made it so much easier to move and relax knowing I had enough money for the term. Over the holidays I budgeted my next term, and I’ll do the same in the next holiday. It averages everything out and I feel a lot better going into the term.
Savings - Not long after moving, I started a Monzo account and it’s amazing. You can sort your money into pots, it’s really helpful if you’re saving for different things at a time. This isn’t sponsored, I just really like their services and it was super easy to set up. I put £20 a week in it and any ‘extra’ money, such as scholarship funds into the account. This helps take a weight off my shoulders as I have a deposit to pay in a few months for a new flat and it isn’t cheap, but I know I have the money in my savings if for whatever reason I don’t have the money in my bank account.
Don’t be afraid of the reduced aisle - Our local supermarket isn’t cheap. On average to fill our freezer and cupboards from this shop, it costs at least around £60 - £70. Split between three of us, it isn’t bad, but it’s not ideal. We always go to the reduced aisles first to see if there’s anything we can use, and that did lead us to buying a birthday cake for £3 one week despite none of us having a birthday, but who can turn down a £3 cake?. Sometimes there won’t be anything you need, but it’s always worth a look.
Know your shops - As I said, the local supermarket is very pricey, but before me and my flatmates go back to the flat after holidays, we always do an online order from the cheapest shop we’ve found. For us, this is Iceland. Not sponsored, but they have some really cheap bits and so far our shop from there has lasted us over a month, and we still have a decently stocked freezer and cupboards. It cost about £50 but split between the three of us it wasn’t bad. Once you find a cheap shop, it’s always worth sticking to it.
Loyalty Schemes / Cards - Tesco Clubcards and Nectar Cards are incredible. They’re free to sign up for but you get so many discounts / offers that are always worth having. Me and my flatmates have a competition going on as to who can get the most Nectar points by the end of each term. It’s fun and an incentive to use the card. This isn’t sponsored, but it’s something I’ve found that helps. If the shops you use deliver, it’s always worth signing up for newsletters to get the information on offers, and sometimes by making an account you get exclusive offers and they’re always good to have.
Make the most of discount codes - If you’re like me and love a takeaway, UberEats are so good with sending out discount codes - this isn’t sponsored I just appreciate a good discount. Between me and my flatmates, we get around three 50% off codes a month. We don’t have takeaways that often, but they’re always handy to have. When we have them does often dictate when we have takeaways. UberEats and Deliveroo have shops too, so every now and then when we get a discount code for either one, we do our shop from one of the available supermarkets . Easy way to save money!
Saving money on a student loan will always vary between people. What works for me might not work for you, and that’s completely valid! Even if they don’t work, I hope they’ve given you enough of an idea to start figuring out what works for you. If you ever need help with finances, there will often be someone working in your educational facility who can help, and don’t be afraid to look into scholarship funds. There will always be options out there.
You’ve got this!
~En | Photo by Kenzie
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers with a platform to share and help others from their own experiences while also educating others on different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all teenagers around the world and support others. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.