Every student knows that making your money stretch until the end of term can be a real challenge. Sometimes, inevitably, you get it wrong and find that your bank balance is at zero with another month to go. In these situations, you have no choice but to borrow from the Bank of Mum and Dad, dip into your overdraft, or turn to a lending company like Smart-Pig to help you out.
But once you’ve got it wrong once, you’ve no excuse to mess up again. It’s time to get on top of your finances and claw your way out of the cash-strapped, debt-ridden student stereotype. Here are a few of our top tips to help you finance your education and come out on top…
Tip One: See Whether You’re Entitled to Council Tax Discounts
One of the best ways to spend less is to keep an eye out for discounts. One pretty significant saving that many students are unaware of is council tax discounts. If you live alone or share with other students, then you’ll find you don’t need to pay council tax at all, however many of you are living together. Even if you live with another non-student, you’ll still be disregarded, which could lead to a household council tax reduction of up to 25 per cent. You’ll need to apply to your local council to secure these savings, as they’re not automatically deducted.
Tip Two: See Whether You’re Entitled to Free Cash
Many students are eligible for grants or free courses, yet they don’t even realise this because they never take the time to check. The easiest way to see if any free cash is available to you is to get in touch with the Educational Grants Advisory Service.
Tip Three: Don’t Overpay Tax
If you work alongside studying, make sure that you’re not paying more income tax than you need to. Although you have to pay tax just like everybody else, if your earnings amount to less than £10,000 per year, then you don’t need to pay anything at all. However, if you’re employed, this will be automatically taxed via PAYE, so you need to make sure you reclaim whatever’s taken.
Tip Four: Get Your Hands on a Student Discount Card
An NUS Extra card will cost you around £12, but it’s well worth the money you’ll pay out. If you can get hold of one of these bad boys, you’ll be eligible for discounts from over 160 different retailers. Offers include everything from 10 per cent off groceries at Co-Op, to money off clothes, food, the cinema, travel, and online purchases.
Tip Five: See If You’re Eligible for a TV Licence Refund
Although you’ll pay an annual sum for your TV licence, if you’re not going to be using your set for three months over the summer, then you can have the money you paid for this period refunded. It’s easy to do so; all you have to do is complete an application form online.
Voila! You’ve just saved yourself some money and managed to keep yourself out of debt for the year.