How to make your student loan last until the end of term

Posted on 1st November 2023

So, you’re a few weeks into university life and the partying has eaten into your funds faster than you realised… and you’re starting to worry whether you’ll have enough money to get to the end of term. 

What can you do? To help you, we’ve put together some quick money-saving tips. But before we get to them, there is something important we need to do. 

Work out how much money you have for the rest of term

Your first, and most essential task, is understand your financial position. Or, to put more simply: how much money you have to cover you until the end of term. 

We’re going to help you work this out in five steps. 

Step 1: Calculate all your income

Start by adding up all possible sources of income. This might include your student loan, allowance from your parents, savings, and any income from jobs. This should give you a total of money you will have for the rest of term. 

As tempting as it may be to factor it in, your bank overdraft should be kept for emergencies only, and not counted as ‘income’. 

Step 2: Calculate your essential outgoings

Next calculate your essential outgoings. This can include things like your rent, utilities (heating and hot water), mobile phone contract and transport costs, such as a bus pass or train tickets. 

Remember to include any costs for returning home at the end of term, too. 

Step 3: Calculate how much you have to spend per week

Now subtract your essential outgoings from your total income, then divide that number by the number of weeks this money needs to last you. 

Here’s a quick example:

  • Total income: £2,000
  • Essential outgoings: £1,100
  • Money you have left spend: £900
  • Weeks until the end of term: 9
  • Weekly spending budget: £100

By the calculation above, you have £100 a week left to spend. 

Step 4: Add up your food and ‘nice-to-haves’

Next, think about how much you need a week for grocery shopping, and deduct that from your total. Then move onto the nice-to-haves, like gym membership, streaming services, etc. 

Your workings out might look something like this:

  • Weekly spending budget: £100
  • Weekly groceries: £40
  • Money left for everything else: £60
  • Nice-to-haves: £75
  • Money left over: -£15

As you can see, in the calculations above, there isn’t enough money for the student to afford all the nice-to-haves they want. 

Step 5: Decide what you can afford - and what you can’t

This is where the final stage comes in: budgeting. You may find, like the student above, that you can’t afford everything you want. And instead need to make some decisions on where you spend your money, and where you cut back.  

For example, you might keep one streaming service but ditch another, or swap your membership to a cheaper gym.

Anything you have left over is spending money for going out, clothes etc. If you don’t think you have enough to cover going out, and this is important to you, then you need to go back to your food and nice-to-haves budget and see how you can squeeze that further. 

Make educated decisions about where you spend your student money

This may feel like a scary exercise to do (especially when you realise how many things your money needs to cover) but it is important if you want to avoid getting into debt. 

Budgeting in this way allows you to make educated decisions about what you choose to spend your money on, and where you are happy to cut back. 

It also gives you the reassurance that you are living within your budget and aren’t going to get a nasty shock towards the end of term when you realise you have no money left!

Five ways you can save money as a student

So, now you know how much (or little…) money you have to spend until the end of term, how can you make it go as far as possible? Let’s look at some ideas. 

1) Look for supermarket coupons and offers

Everyone needs to eat - even hard-up students - but there are always ways to save money on your weekly grocery shop. Here are some quick tips:

  • Look for cheaper supermarkets, like Lidl and Aldi
  • Ask if your local shop offers student discounts
  • Join your local supermarket’s loyalty scheme to earn points and access offers
  • Shop supermarket own label products where possible
  • Look at the price per 100g or kilo to compare cheapest options
  • Know when your local supermarket discounts products about to expire and shop then
  • Buy long-lasting products like pasta and rice in bulk
  • Buy large (cheaper) packs of meat and freeze portions
  • Look for discounts on items like bread, and freeze what you can’t eat now

2) Look for student discounts

Speaking of student discounts, it’s worth hunting around for shops that offer them. They’ll usually have a sign on display if they do but ask anyway, just in case. 

It’s also a good idea to look into cards like the NUS TOTUM card, Student Beans and UNiDAYS. You can use them online to get discounts on takeaways, clothes, books, technology music and more.

3) Cook cleverly

As well as the shopping tips we shared above, there are other clever ways you can save money on cooking. 

Rather than wander around a supermarket being tempted by the products you see, and ending up with a fridge full of mismatched ingredients, it is a good idea to plan your weekly meals in advance. This way you can make economic use of what you buy, and head to the shops with a priced-up list.  

If you want to take your meal planning a frugal step further, you can also batch cook. This saves on fuel bills and your energy, and gives you delicious, healthy dishes ready to be reheated whenever you want them. 

4) Find cheaper transport options

As a student you will need to travel to and from campus and around your town or city. And transport companies usually offer discounts for students.

For example, if you are in London, you can save 30% on Travelcards and Bus & Tram Passes with the 18+ Student Oyster photocard. Companies like Stagecoach also have student bus passes. And if you are traveling by train, you can get a 16-25 Student Railcard.

You can also save money and hassle by using BOXDIT to move your stuff in and out of your uni accommodation, and get extra belongings sent to you from home during term time. Click here to see how quick and easy it is to book. (You also get £250 insurance per box FREE for complete peace of mind.)

5) Pay your bills on time

Many suppliers offer discounts for paying bills upfront, so if you can afford to do that, make sure you do. And if you have monthly bills, set up a Direct Debit for them to ensure they go out on time. 

This will save you being penalised with any late charges, and help grow your credit score (which in turn will make it easier and cheaper if you need to borrow money in future). 

Just make sure there is always enough in your bank account to cover any Direct Debit payments going out. 

Have fun - and save money!

We hope you have found these tips helpful. Just by making some clever tweaks to your lifestyle, and knowing where to look for deals can help make your money - and fun - go further while you’re at university.