Unfortunately, student loans just do not lend themselves well to the champagne lifestyle. If your taste buds generally prefer the finer things in life, then taking the plunge to return to education as a postgrad student may come with its challenges and financial cutbacks. Thankfully, the recent postgraduate loan scheme has gone some way to take that bitter edge off your bank account. So, that’s your tuition covered and maybe a bit extra…but how will you pay for everything else? As someone who has not seen the upside of their overdraft since 2014, I am not sure I am the right person to advise you on how to coast through your studies without bumping into financial hardship. However, I am a pro at surviving on the cusp of poverty, so I can give you a few tips…
Firstly, the £10 challenge. I cannot take credit for thinking this up but I can say it has saved me from going hungry on more than one occasion. If you think of it more as a game than a much-needed survival technique then you may just find your name in the £10 hall of fame. Try to live for a week on just £10. It sounds ridiculous but it is possible, and actually has its pros. It is hard, but it really does make you think about all those unnecessary purchases you make and may make you think twice about your spending habits in future. Try it!
One thing I find really helpful is keeping a diary of all my key financial dates so that I can prepare well in advance for my bank account to be hit…hard. It is still depressing to know that a lot of your cash instantly goes on rent, but at least you’re prepared.
Get UniDays. It will become your guardian angel, your life coach, your best friend. It is an app that basically works in the same way as an NUS card. You can save up to 50% in some stores and they always have great deals for dining out. (Get Voucher Cloud too). If you are a postgrad student then you should already be well versed in surviving on nothing but 30p noodles and tap water by now from your undergraduate student days, but you can inject a little bit of finery into your lifestyle with the help of the websites. Also, a railcard is an investment that you should be making, student or no student. After two or three trips it basically pays for itself. And, good news…a 26-30 railcard is now available, so keep them savings coming!
Manchester is such a great city for students. You really can make your money go further here. The rent so much cheaper than further south and the student deals offered by pubs and clubs means that you can have a stellar night out and not break the bank. Most places offer students a discounted entry, or student drink deals – which can really help ease the stress of any pending deadlines. My top pick is Beat the Frog at Frog and Bucket on Monday nights. Students get a cheaper entry and you don’t even need to buy a drink to see some great local stand-up comedy. It’s a night out which could cost you as little as £4.
You can hop on a Magic Bus for £1.50 and be in the city centre taking full advantage of your NUS card in minutes. Trams are dirt cheap and you can Uber around the city centre for less than a fiver; whether you fancy a day out in Media City for selfies outside Coronation Street, or need to reset your Feng Shui in Ikea…it’s easy peasy and far from costly.
You’ll probably find a happy hour in just about every bar in the city…you could be classy in the Alchemist, or rough and ready down at the Font with a £2 Strawberry Kiss and you’ll still be going home with more pennies than a night in your southern equivalent. Who needs London when you can have Manchester for half the price and double the fun?
If you are interested in postgraduate study, but the thought of returning to the dark side of your overdraft is putting you off then just know that there are things out there to help soften the blow. It may not be easy – especially with Manchester’s obsession with electric heating which costs 3x a much as central heating (ugh) – but it will be worth it when you’re reaping the rewards after your (second) graduation.
AND…THE BEST NEWS OF ALL IS THAT YOU GET A FREE GLASS OF FIZZ WHEN YOU GRADUATE! I think that’s a deal too good to pass up on!
Keep saving, y’all.