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How to keep university debt down

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These handy tips will help to minimise the amount you or your loved ones spend at university.

With student debt ticking up every year – from an average of just over £14,500 in 2010 to a staggering £20,100 this year for students in England, according to the Student Loan Company – spending wisely at university has never been more important.

Vivi Friedgut, a former private banker who now teaches financial education, said: “The only way to reduce the final debt after graduation is to keep an eye on current spending.

“It’s incredibly easy, to get carried away with ‘life expenses’ and forget that you have the rest of the term to get through. University can either be the time you have the least money, or it can be the time when you have the most.

“Financial decisions made during this period will impact life and have consequences for the foreseeable future; like marriage, it’s for better or for worse.

“It’s not the time for expensive gadgets and gourmet dining. The most valuable commodity you have is time and this should be invested in education and future employability.”

Top tips for students:

Consider a university in close proximity to home

Accommodation is often the largest expense whilst studying so if you are lucky enough to continue to live at home whilst attending university, this could reduce your final debt quite significantly.

Get all the student discounts you’re entitled to but make sure they’re worthwhile.

There are many cards, schemes and offers available but also be cautious as everything may not work in your favour.

For example, many high street retailers tempt shoppers with 10% off purchases if they open a store card – a tempting offer to students watching their pennies. However, the hefty 29.9 per cent APR might just make this card one very costly mistake.

Extend Dry January

Consider refraining from alcohol on certain days. This small lifestyle change will not only benefit your pocket but also concentration and performance levels throughout lectures.

Quit smoking

Not just because it’s bad for your health, but because smoking costs on average £100,000 in a lifetime. This is three times the typical student fee.

Put pen to paper, make a shopping list, and stick to it

Shop with a friend or as a household if you house share. Special offers and meal deals may work out more beneficial by doing it this way.

Squeeze the very last bit out of everything

Shampoo, toilet paper, toothpaste and deodorant, it all makes a difference.

Learn to cook.

Having friends over for dinner can work out much cheaper (and a lot more fun). Not only will the ingredients and the drinks be a fraction of the cost when compared with dining out but there aren’t any costly entrance fees, taxis home or lost wallets/handbags to consider. Cooking is also the quickest way to impress.

This article originally appeared on in March 2013. 

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