Just got your student loan approved? Congratulations. Now comes the hard part: making all ends meet. To help you make the most of your student personal loan, here are several tips for stretching your funds.
Tip #1: Budget your expenses
To stay on top of your expenses, prepare a monthly spending plan. This would involve recording all your outlays and keeping all your receipts so that you can account for every dollar. A spending plan would let you to make necessary adjustments and see what’s costing you more money. It would also help you prevent overspending, which is vital if you want to stretch your student loan.
Tip #2: Grab a student account with 0% overdraft
It’s practically inevitable: you’ll most likely need an overdraft facility for your student account, especially when you’re at uni. Just make sure you won’t be paying extra for it by looking for an account with interest-free overdraft. But this doesn’t mean you should go over your limit—you might get slapped with charges anyway.
Tip #3: Get a student discount card
A student discount card can get you rebates that range from 10 per cent to 50 per cent off, depending on where you use it. Either way, you’ll enjoy discounts when you shop, buy food or travel. Some cards even have medical coverage of up to $2,000. However, you should first crunch the numbers to see if you’d really save money on the rebates since you’ll have to spend for the card.
Tip #4: Ask your parents for help
You can ask your parents for a contribution to help you with your regular expenses and stretch your student loan. Requesting for financial aid can be a tricky issue for some people, but the subsidy can spell the difference between nightly ramen and a healthy balanced diet.
Tip #5: Use open-source software
You’d need a desktop or laptop to work on your term papers and assignments. To actually get things done, you have to load your computer with the proper software as well, but you can save money on these if you know where to look. No, we’re not referring to warez; that would only cause you headaches. We’re talking about open source software. Instead of unloading $200 for MS Office, go for LibreOffice or OpenOffice. Need Photoshop? Try Gimp.
Tip #6: Request for a discount
If the establishment you’re visiting already has student discounts on offer, then lucky you. If not, you can always show your discount card or request for one. It doesn’t hurt to ask, especially if you’re in a group since the establishment is making the most of your numbers.
Tip #7: Save energy costs
You can further stretch your student loan by cutting down your pad’s energy costs. Instead of using regular light bulbs, replace them with LED lamps, which are brighter, consume significantly less power than incandescent ones, and can last 17 years. Clean your air-conditioning and defrost your fridge regularly. Better yet, turn lights and appliances off when not in use.
Tip #8: Visit the library
Here’s another way to save money: visit your local library, where you can browse and read books, get Wi-Fi access, listen to audiobooks, watch old television shows, borrow DVDs, and play board games for free. If you hang out in the library, you can also reduce your flat’s energy costs (see tip #7).
Tip #9: Cook your own meals
Cooking and preparing your food is cheaper and healthier than eating out. Consider that groceries for one person costs around $80 per week. In contrast, a fast food combo would cost $8. Since you’d be eating at least three meals per day, dining out would cost you at least twice the typical grocery expenses.