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Students everywhere will probably be enjoying their first student loan instalment right about now, but the question is, just how long will that cash injection last? It may be designed to be used for the entire semester, but for most people, it probably won't get that far…
According to research from vouchercloud.com, the average first semester student loan lasts a typical fresher just 52 days – less than two months and well before the all-important Christmas break – with almost a quarter (24%) of it going on alcohol. That's a lot of freshers parties!
The survey asked second-year students whether their initial loan lasted the entire first semester, to which 93% replied that no, it didn't. The most common non-essential thing they spent their money on was alcohol, followed by takeaways, fancy dress costumes, new clothes and decorations for their accommodation.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, 72% of respondents said that they don't want to spend as much of their student loan on alcohol during their second year, but those good intentions may not be enough, as 43% admitted that they know it'll be the same, if not worse, in the year ahead.
"It's ludicrous that students are spending a quarter of their loan on alcohol during Freshers Week," said Chris Johnson of vouchercloud.com, "yet the other three-quarters of the student loan has to last for roughly three months. We'd recommend students go out and get themselves a part-time job that works around their studies, but receiving student loans and spending them so carelessly leads to bad money habits."
So just how can you make sure that your student loan lasts to the end of the semester? Well, aside from trying not to spend quite so much on alcohol, there are a few habits that you'll probably want to get into. You should always be on the lookout for discounts and vouchers to make your money go further, but setting a budget is the best place to start – it may be a challenge, particularly if it's the first time you've been in control of your finances, but being careful with your spending could pay dividends.
"It's never a bad thing to learn some good practices when it comes to money," added Chris, "such as budgeting, using savings accounts, or even just being a bit frugal and purchasing own-brand items instead of luxury brands; small changes could save you a lot of money in the long run."
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