Money matters as a student!

Welcome freshers! I hope you’ve adjusted comfortably to university life and the new academic year by now. Hopefully, you are enjoying the life of a medical student and remain just as eager as you were on day one. If not, that’s a real shame and hopefully you’ll be attentive to what I have to say for the next few hundred words and will change your mind!

I’m sure many of you have realised during your first few weeks that despite being in one of the most exciting cities with countless activities to take part in, residing in London isn’t cheap, especially when five long years must be sacrificed. Become spending savvy and you’ll have fewer worries as you head towards the last few pounds of your student loans near the end of term.

To achieve this, I have a few important words of advice:

1. If you have not done so already, invest in a student oyster. These offer much needed discounts when traveling around the capital and you certainly won’t regret having one when voyaging to firms and placements (which literally can be miles away!).

2. Be wise when choosing your student account and don’t be deceived by freebies. Choose the account that best suits your needs, so research the overdraft facilities, interest rates etc. If this will have little effect on you then think about the perks they are offering. Santander are offering a free railcard this year to anyone opening a student account with them, which offers 1/3 of all fairs for four years.

3. Keep track of what you spend and be organised by budgeting wisely! You will repeatedly receive friendly advice about not squandering all your money in the first term and as tiring as this is to hear, it’s true. Make a plan before it’s too late and stick to it. Do try to strike the right balance too or you may just fall into a spending binge. If you can, pay by cash rather than card when shopping. This way you can keep track of your expenses much better and will have less of a surprise at the end of the month.

4. Prioritise all the essential costs first. This includes rent, bills, food and then set a weekly cap for things like nights out and take-aways. Basic cooking may save some pounds too and home-made meals are much healthier if you use the right ingredients.

5. Look out for any discounts that may be available. NUS offer several for all types of purchases and there is even a smartphone app to inform you of these. It is your responsibility to check out offers and make note of any 2 for 1 meals, half price cinema tickets and even complementary services. You will be really grateful of all these. Remember to ask if the store offers student discounts each time you buy something. You’ll be surprised by the offers you miss. Studentbeans, vouchercloud and moneysavingexpert.com also have many generous discounts and give useful advice on being money smart.

6. Utilise the study resources offered by your university. Books are costly but are a valuable investment if the right one is bought. Usually those advised by your lecturer are the best as what you are taught is most likely to be based on these. If you feel you don’t need to use the book for more than a few months, then borrow one from the library. There is usually a competition for freshers to win books or stethoscopes. Apply. You might be lucky enough to win!

7. If you feel you can handle a part time job to help you cope with the costs of being a student then that may offer some more leeway with spending.

By Shivali Patel

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