Lifestyle, Manchester, News

A student guide to… How to make the most of your student loan

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By Charlie Jordin

Getting your student loan is one of the most exciting and daunting aspects of your first year at university and, for many students, it will be the most money they’ve ever had in their life and the first time they’ve had to worry about paying rent and buying their own food. Here’s our advice on saving and spending money in your first year whilst making the most out of your time at university without stressing about finances.

Many businesses offer small discounts to lure students. Whilst this sounds brilliant, we often end up spending more than we usually would because we want to make the most of the discount. Of course there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to something new every once in a while, but it’s best to shop wisely and perhaps look online to see if you can find it cheaper and avoid impulse buying. If you’re not sure about buying something, leave the shop to think about it and come back in thirty minutes. There’s a good chance you’ll have forgotten all about it! You might also find it in the sale section in a few weeks. Many shops offer student discount on top of sale items, so don’t forget to look in the sale section for a bargain.

Manchester is one of the most student-friendly cities in the country so there are lots of cheap places to eat and drink. For example, Revolution and Dog Bowl have a half price menu on a Monday so you can pig out with your flat mates without worrying too much about the price. Many restaurants also have a student discount, so pay attention to deals on your Unidays or Student Beans app and don’t be afraid to ask. Pay attention to flyers and posters as there are often discounted events for students such as cheap entry to clubs before a certain time and offers on drinks. There is an abundance of club nights in Manchester so prices are pretty competitive and usually very student-friendly.

Apps such as eBay and Depop are a great way to buy and sell clothes. eBay is a goldmine for cheap homewares, accessories and clothes and the majority are brand new or in good condition and start at 99p. If you don’t mind waiting longer for delivery you can buy cheap and quirky items like phone cases and sunglasses from overseas at a fraction of the price, but beware when buying clothes from overseas as the quality and fit may be poor and you sometimes have to pay a customs fee. Depop is a quick and easy way to buy and sell clothes and has a huge range of different items. It’s a great way to make some extra money and find bargains but beware it can be difficult to sell sometimes as it’s so competitive.

Food shopping is also a huge strain on a student’s budget as many haven’t had to shop for themselves before and are unsure where to start. It’s best to avoid the smaller ‘metro’ supermarkets for your big weekly shop as there is a much smaller range of items, fewer offers and they are often more expensive than bigger supermarkets. If there isn’t a big supermarket near you, doing your food shop online is a great way to avoid overspending and you don’t have worry about walking for miles with heavy bags!

Visiting your family back home is also a big part of your university experience, but it can get expensive. If you’re planning on travelling by train, booking in advance is a great way to save money, with average savings of 43%. The 16-25 railcard is a great investment if you’re planning on travelling by rail. You save 1/3 on off-peak journeys which is a significant saving, especially if you’re travelling long distance. Currently you can get a 12% discount on your 16-25 railcard with Student Beans and you can also use your Student Beans discount to get 10% off National Express coach journeys.

Finally, remember that there is always support from Manchester Met’s Student Union if you’re stressing about money or are having a hard time at your halls of residence. They are there to help you and make sure your first year at university is worthwhile and enjoyable.

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