Hello all, my name is Miss NoMoneyPenny, and I’m your off-beat, out of tune financial advisor. I’m here to guide you kicking and screaming through your time as a sensible, thrifty student. Seeing as it’s Freshers’ Week, and you’ve got a whole host of other worries, such as what to wear out tonight, how to get off with the hot girl in the block across from you, and how the hell to find your lecture halls, I’m not going to talk about the boring stuff such as budgets and bank accounts. Hoorah.
I hope you’re sitting back and enjoying yourself so far, because the truth is, you’ve never been in such a good position, especially if you’re Scottish. The government has been so kind as to pay your tuition fees, offer you a nifty loan tied to inflation, and if you’re especially lucky, hand over a student bursary (this is actually a grant, and it’s worth applying for through SAAS to see if you get anything – hey, it’s free money!). And pending Mr Salmond being able to sweet talk the rest of Parliament, you’ll probably get through Uni without being stung by a two grand charge at the end of it.
So, life is sweet, and so is your money. And lots of companies have started to realise student buying power. That’s why you’ll probably suddenly find yourself absolutely irresistible to all sorts of branding and PR staff, especially while trying to wander up and down campus. A word of warning though – it’s not you those sweet, semi-naked PR girls want, it’s your money.
The student card is a passport to all sorts of cut-price goodies, and it’s definitely worth scoping out the best deals amongst all the flashy flyers you’ll have thrust at you. Some student offers worth mentioning are: Topshop and its sister brands (the discount, NOT the store card), Apple (iPods and Macbooks, not fruit), local greengrocer's (fruit, not iPods and Macbooks), the Student Railcard and the International Student Identity Card (ISIC). Even if somewhere doesn’t advertise a student discount do ask if they provide one, especially if you’re buying something pricey (like a computer) and especially if you’re paying with cash. Companies want brand loyalty as much as they want a quick sale, so often they’ll do anything to keep you sweet.
Don’t get taken in by every student offer available, because there are some that aren’t quite all they promise to be. I’m not just talking about the clubs in town that brag about bouncy castles, D-list celebs and fantastic (though illegal) drinks promos and then fail to deliver on the ‘bonanza’ (though they are bloody annoying). I’m talking about credit cards and store cards.
Credit card and money companies cottoned on to the fact that students love free stuff and they’ll take any old shit if they think it’s a good deal. A ConMe Credit Card with 85% APR? No thanks. What about if we throw in a free box of Candy Floss Makers we’ve had in the back store room for the past decade? Oh, well now you mention it…