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The Dreaded Overdraft

17 March 2020

Welcome to University where you will experience some of the best times of your life, some of the hardest and some of the most rewarding. Everything comes for a price and you will probably hear people talking about their overdrafts within a month of being at University. 

What is the overdraft? 

If you have a student bank account (a very good idea to have), along with the free benefits they give you, you are also given an overdraft. The benefits range from Amazon vouchers to bus passes.  This is a certain amount of money that they loan you free of interest for the duration of your studies. This sounds great doesn’t it, free money! This is an easy perception to have but is entirely wrong. You cannot go over the limit of your overdraft and must be able to pay it all back by your graduation, so it is a good idea to keep on top of this.  

How do I stay on top of my overdraft? 

The trick is to budget and keep track of your finances. Think of this as great practice for life as an adult. You will not have access to interest-free money ever again, so it is a great time to learn how to make money stretch without having to experience the horrific, heart-sinking feeling of accumulating debt.  

I’m in my overdraft already, what do I do? 

So, you’ve had a few expensive nights out, you’ve overspent on clothes, or maybe you’ve miscalculated your rent and just don’t have enough left. There’s nothing to worry about, you hopefully have enough wriggle room with your overdraft, and if not, you can go into the bank and ask for more a larger one… sometimes they agree. You now need to think about how you can get out of it though because there is nothing more dire than the shadow of debt hanging over you. You can’t take part in fun social events, eat out or even catch public transport without stressing if you have enough money for next week’s food shop.  

Here are some ways of getting out of it:  

Get a job

This seems like an obvious answer, but a lot of students don’t think they can juggle a degree and a job. Let’s be honest though, how much time do you spend on your phone mindlessly scrolling? Or re-watching Netflix series? You have the time if you stay organised and prioritise. As a student you will want something flexible or casual, one or two shifts a week, managers will understand that you are a student and try to accommodate for your availability. 

Sign up to the University’s Jobshop

All you need is your passport and your student card. They then send you emails for job opportunities and you can find your perfect job. Local businesses promote their jobs through this so you can get anything from Pharmaceutical jobs to Native speaking language teachers. Here are some examples:

  • The Principality stadium – they always need staff and promote this job through jobshop 
  • The Cardiff University Student Union – every year they hire student staff to man the food concessions, cloakroom and bars on nights out. Even if you miss out on this opportunity at the beginning of the year, they always promote shift spaces through Jobshop! 

There are lots of options out there, the pubs are almost always looking for staff! Try the Flora, The Woody, The George, or the Blackweir. 

Write out a CV and put it into shops in town, they may not be advertising but quite often they do still want staff 


Food wise you are going to have to cut down on the fancy meals and ingredients. Maybe have porridge for a while and eat what’s in your cupboard as opposed to buying more and more stuff. Pasta is a great option, cheap and versatile. 

Download useful Apps

A budgeting app like YOLT. This tells you what areas you spend the most in and allows you to figure out what aspects you need to cut down in.

Get a holiday job if you really can’t get a term time job

Over Christmas, Easter and summer there are always businesses needing staff so make the most of your free time and get yourself out of debt.  

Sell the clothes you don’t wear on Depop

This is a great way to earn money and help the environment while you’re at it. Recycling clothes to a good home. If you don’t like Depop try Facebook marketplace or eBay. You can sell things other than clothes too, perhaps try selling your books from last year’s modules.  

Sign up to Online tutoring

This pays well, and you can teach other students in a flexible way.  

Economise and Exercise

Walk rather than Uber/Ola. Yes, even if it’s raining. You need to make sure you are spending as little as possible! 

Budget when your loan drops

When your next student loan comes through do not throw it all away, this is your best chance to get out of debt quickly. Make sure you deduct the money you need for rent and bills before you start spending.

Another good idea is to have more than one bank account. One for savings. One for bills and rent and then one for spending. This means that you will be able to control and limit how much you spend. 

Do not despair you will be able to make it out of this tight space and if you continue to economise and budget you may even stay out of your overdraft! Good luck, I hope you like the taste of pasta.