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Freshers Survival Guide:

Poverty: coping with it

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Once you have collected all your money – loans, grants, bursaries, scholarships and/or parents’ handouts – it will probably be more than you have ever had in your bank account before. You will need all of it (and probably more) to keep you afloat until the start of next term, so be sure not to spend it on one glorious binge and find ways of making it stretch.

Here are some general ways of keeping your costs down −

  • Cheap accommodation that is not too far away. Add the travel expenses to the rent; you may find that pricier accommodation in walking distance of lectures is a better bet.
  • A second-hand bike is usually cheaper than a year’s bus fares.
  • You can spend a fortune replacing your belongings if they are nicked and you are not insured.
  • Food, drink and entertainment are usually cheapest at the SU and its shops. Meat can be expensive, so try vegetarian food.
  • Plenty of locals will compete for your business, so keep your eyes open for local cheapies eg Chinese and Indian restaurants, student discounts at theatres and cinemas, student nights at pubs and clubs.
  • Banks offer interest-free overdrafts to students, up to a specified limit. This is (obviously) the cheapest way to borrow commercially. If your overdraft is beyond the interest-free limit, bank borrowing is still cheaper for you as a student than for others but keep within the agreed limit. Credit cards are an outrageously expensive way to borrow.
  • Your student loans usually attract a lower interest rate than commercial loans, in which case this will be the cheapest way for you to borrow in the longer term.
  • Avoid lending money to your cash-starved student friends – it can be embarrassing if you need it back and it is hard to collect.

But don’t be put off. Although you will not have much spare cash, neither will anybody else – and try not to skimp on food. Most students enjoy themselves in spite of their lack of money. After all, the best things in life are free ... they say.

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