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Student in debt and struggling for food - help?

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Hi,

 

I've got myself in to debt, and I'm really struggling to cope at the moment. The amounts I'm going to mention might not seem like very much in the grand scheme of things, but as a student every penny counts. For example, I've currently got 75p in my bank account and I'm trying to work out what I'm going to eat for the next couple of days.

 

First, a little bit of history. I finished college in 2009, and took a gap year before starting university. In this time I had a job at a big UK retail store, which paid quite well. I was only doing 14 hours a week but was earning £400-600 a month, and tried to save some money. I struggled with this because, having never had anywhere near this amount of money before, I was spending it quite haphazardly. I impulse bought an iPod touch, an xBox 360 and a £600 guitar, and also got a Macbook for £1000. Since I was doing ok money-wise I took out a mobile phone contract with T-Mobile, for £35 a month. I also went to a couple of music festivals, and when I quit my job to move away to uni I had less than £100. So, I took out a credit card. I shouldn't have been allowed to, but for some reason the bank allowed me to. It was meant for use in emergencies, but I'd grown accustomed to my relatively frugal lifestyle, and when I went to stay with my girlfriend in London for a month before moving to uni I maxed out the £950 credit limit. By the time I started uni, then, I owed £55 a month between my phone and credit card. This is a lot of money for a student, I could probably live on £55 a month if I didn't owe this money. I scraped through the first year, but now I'm in my second year the problems haven't stopped since September.

 

First, I had issues getting my student loan through, because the Student Loans Company are useless. I had to borrow £275 from my uni's welfare fund in order to pay my rent, and one of my close friends lent me £300 to live on until I got my loan. When I did get my loan, however, it didn't stretch like I thought it would. I received less than I'd been told I would, and it's been confirmed that this was the correct amount. I paid my uni back, because they threatened to suspend me from my course if I didn't, but I couldn't get the £300 together for my friend. It's now a week until Christmas, and I promised him I'd pay him back by the last week in November. He's really struggling at the moment, and I feel so, so awful for it. Because I can't pay him back at the moment, he's getting into debt and it's making things hard for him. I really don't want to fall out over it, but I don't know what to do. My credit card bill is overdue, so it's now up to £35, my phone bill hasn't been paid for 2 months and is up to £80, I haven't done any Christmas shopping whatsoever yet and I don't have much food. In total I owe £415, plus I need to do Christmas shopping, but my credit card's maxed out, there's nothing left of my £1400 overdraft, and my parents can't give me anything. In fact, I don't have any family that could give me anything, as two of my grandparents have passed away in the last 3 weeks and my family have paid over £8000 in funeral costs. I should get a couple of hundred quid for Christmas, and the next instalment of my student loan in the middle of January will leave me with another £500, but by that time my bills will have got a lot bigger, and I could have lost one of my best friends, as well as disappointed my girlfriend and family as I won't be able to get them anything for Christmas.

 

I haven't had a good night's sleep for weeks on end, I can't stop thinking about how I've ruined things for my friend, and I really can't see a way out. I've sold everything I can of any value just to buy food in recent weeks, and I've now got nothing left. What am I supposed to do? There must be something, right? I really can't think. It's not helped by the fact my bank promised that my second year uni overdraft would extend to £1750, but they've lowered the limit to £1400. I've begged them to keep their word and put the limit up multiple times, but they just won't. I'm absolutely screwed, and spend all my time panicking about all this. Obviously it's affecting my uni grades because I can't think straight. My first year average mark was 68%, which has fallen to 45% since my problems started escalating. Help.

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I understand your desperation -I've been there. The way I have dealt with it in desperate times is to pawn something at cash converters and buy it back later. I am not saying do this because it can lead to you paying to keep your stuff in there each month if you cant afford to buy it back and it is only for emergencies- be careful, Ive done it to put food on the table for my kids.

 

The other thing to do is google freecycle - find your nearest- people offer goods for free, you might be able to resell them on ebay. Once I got a free trampoline and one alloy wheel- I took it to the local scrap metal palce and made £12 (not much I know)

 

When Ive been really skint I have bought some value flour and eggs and lived on pancakes- sweet or savoury- add what you want.

 

Things will get easier and worrying won't help- have you got any study books to sell on amazon?? -you can get a lot for some of them. -your family and girlfriend wil understand if you cant afford to buy them anything

 

Good Luck

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I can't think of much you can do in the short term except start looking for a job in a pub or supermarket - whatever - where they need extra people who are prepared to work evening or nights and on Christmas Day and on Boxing Day.

 

The other thing you could do is to explain to all of your family and your gf etc that they won't be getting presents this year - and why that is. That will take a lot of social pressure off you and you will feel a lot better once the problem is out in the open. If that causes a problem for your gf or her family, then frankly you don't need friends like that anyway.

 

You had better tell your friend about the problem as well. Better to lose a friend because you have screwed up your finances than because you have lied to him - or I think so, anyway.

 

As far as your commitments go, you are going to have to get into trouble with some of them, so here goes:-

 

Because you are going to fall out with your bank - big time, go and get a parachute account straightaway - Monday. Get a fee-free account - maybe a basic account which means that there is no overdraft, no debit card, nothing. However it will be somewhere for your student loan to go because you had better not let it be paid into your existing account or it will be swallowed up. Then change all of your direct debits so that they feed from your new account.

 

Do you need a phone contract? I'm sure that you need a phone, but you have a phone handset so you could go and get a pay as you go card and use that. You will be forced to adapt your phone usage according to what you have in credit on the card.

 

Write to Tmobile and give them notice that you are cancelling the contract and giving them one month's notice. TMobile will object, of course - and come after you - but you don't have much choice, and who cares about TMobile anyway? They will demand full payment of the rest of the contractual term but that would be an unenforceable penalty - and they really don't care about these kinds of legal niceties - they only care about what they can get away with.

 

Write to the bank and give them notice that you are cancelling your account with them. Tell them that you will be repaying the overdraft by regular payments of £XX per month and that although they may be charging you interest, you will expect them not to levy any account charges as the account is close, you won't be having the benefit of their account services and that any attempt to levy charges on a closed account would be a violation of their duty to Treat Customers Fairly.

The Bank won't understand these kinds of niceties either. They don't give a flying fig about treating you or anyone else fairly, so they will come after you too. However, the important thing is to pay them off without missing a payment and that will give you the upper hand when making an official complaint about them later when they come after you - because they will come after you.

 

Is your credit card provider, your bank? If so then they will have received the message loud and clear already. If it is a different company then do the same with them. Cancel the card, cut it up and then write to them and tell them the rate at which you will be repaying the balance. Give them a warning about adding charges.

 

Of course all of this will destroy your credit rating - but that was a gonner anyway, so you might as well use the situation in the best way possible to get back on your feet.

 

Hopefully the end result will be that you have a bank account with no overdraft which contains your living funds and that you are making manageable payments to your creditors for the duration.

Make sure that the payments really are manageable so that you don't let anyone down.

 

Two hints - firstly, the bank will refuse to close the account and will probably continue to add charges. Come back here and let us know.

Same with the credit card.

 

Second hint - set out all of your expenses and debts on a sheet of paper. Expenses include your debt repayments. This is your income/expenditure schedule. It is a projection of your finances over the coming year. Supply a copy of it to each of your creditors. They will tend to ignore it but at least they have got a copy and this will help you when you have to make a complaint - as you surely will.

 

Here's a hint for free - the bank at least - and maybe the phone company, will probably refuse to accept your instalments. They are not entitled to do this. Insist that they accept your instalments or else you will complain to the regulator or Ombudsman.

 

Here's a bonus hint - do everything in writing. Do nothing on the phone. you need evidence of everything that was said and every attempt there has been to discuss with them and of every failure or refusal by them to hold dialogue with you.


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[ATTACH]32279[/ATTACH]

 

Here is a budget sheet for you to complete :)


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Final thought - make sure that you write to your bank and cancel all direct debits. If you don't do that, then they will receive the TMobile DD, refuse to pay it out and then levy a failed direct debit charge - once of the most heinously and unprincipled pieces of unfair and basically dishonest banking practices ever devised.

Protect yourself against it with a letter.


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Hi tm

 

Heres some info, no doubt there will be info on the relevant uni. website you attend, :- https://www.york.ac.uk/students/housing-and-money/financial-support/debt/

 

When you think there is nothing you can do, there is actually a lot you can do.


Welcome to Consumer Action Group

 

'Challenges are what makes life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.'

Joshua J. Marine

 

1) CLAIM BACK ALL PENALTY CHARGES CLICK HERE

2) CLAIM BACK ALL MIS-SOLD PPI CLICK HERE

3) COMPOUNDED CONTRACTUAL INTEREST CLICK HERE

4) REQUEST CCA FROM CREDITOR CLICK HERE

5) OFT- UNENFORCEABLE AGREEMENTS CLICK HERE

6) CAREY V HSBC (2009) CLICK HERE

7) DON'T BE BULLIED BY CREDITORS / DCA's CLICK HERE

8) IN DEBT DON'T PANIC CLICK HERE

9) FULL AND FINAL SETTLEMENT CLICK HERE

10) SALE OF GOODS ACT-EDUCATE YOUR RETAILER CLICK HERE

11) DISTANCE SELLING-EDUCATE YOR RETAILERCLICK HERE

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I'm thinking this (and everybody pile in, if I'm being way out of line and irresponsible here): once you decide that you are going to probably bugger up your future credit rating (and in the future this is actually something that is often fixable - you sort of build it up again), surely once a person has made that decision, shouldn't they max out as much as they can on their credit card / overdraft?

It would seem logical.

 

Here's my (twisted) reasoning:

If you're going to affect your credit rating by defaulting on, say, £750 (or agreeing to pay it back in installments), then why not affect it by doing the same with £1,500 / £2,000?

Surely the "points" you get knocked down by are the same?

I would imagine that the "points" you get knocked down by are the same if it's £1,000 or £3,000.

Perhaps somebody could put me right on this...

 

Bankfodder, Rebel11 CitizenB and thorntondog et al above have all come up with suggestions better than this anyway, so please don't take this advice!

 

Another thing I'd say in this situation is to buy food sensibly. For example, there was a terrible advert for KFC once that said, "I can feed the whole family for £9.99!", (Which brought to mind the Jack Dee quote: "What kind of family eats out of a bucket?") - and I remember thinking, "£9.99? I could feed a family for 4 days on £9.99!"

If you buy vegetables in a market they're much cheaper than the supermarket. And pasta goes a long way. If you buy cheese, buy strong cheddar. Stronger = use less.

 

Right. This may seem flippant, but it's not - here's a recipe.

 

Use a big saucepan like a cast-iron Le Creuset one (there are cheap versions around). If you haven't got one, just a big pan.

Get a tin of anchovies in oil. Fry a couple of onions and half a clove of garlic in the oil from the tin. Throw in some chopped dried herbs if you have them. Roughly chop up the anchovies, put them in. See, anchovies are packed with flavour. They don't really taste fishy once they've sort of melted into the onions and garlic. So you have these onions and garlic and anchovies that are packed with flavour.

Right.

Add two cheap tins of chopped tomatoes.

Swill some water into each tin to get all the tomato out, and add the water (a fifth of each tin) to the sauce.

Add some salt and pepper.

Cook for around 10 minutes.

Cook some spaghetti (cook it in water already boiled from the kettle). If the packet says 10 minutes, cook it for 9 1/2 minutes.

Strain the spaghetti with cold water (stops it cooking, washes off the starch)

Now get the cooked sauce, and put most of it in a bowl. Just leave enough in the pan for one serving.

Add just enough spaghetti to the sauce to serve one.

Heat it up a little, stirring.

Let the rest cool down in the bowls before refrigerating.

 

There ya go.

 

Much better, more grown-up than bottled ragu sauces, and actually cheaper:

Tomorrow, heat up just enough to feed you.

The next day, heat up just enough to feed you.

 

You can get the "basics" range in supermarkets for tinned tomatoes (chopped or plum tomatoes, makes no difference as you can roughly chop / mash the plum tomatoes in the pan).

Buy "basics" garlic, and buy a whole bunch of onions in the market or where ever.

Get some multivitamins while you're in the supermarket... ; )

 

Buy spaghetti (or penne etc.) in large 1 kilo / 2 kilo amounts.

The only expensive thing is the anchovies - they can cost around 80 / 90p. You can also add a tin of sardines too. Any old cheap red wine knocking around? Add half a glass of that. If you want, add more tomatoes - even a fresh, finely chopped one if you have it.

 

I lived in Italy, and this kind of thing is eaten over there all the time.

 

It's cheap, probably lasts three days in the fridge (so four servings) and if you have people over, it's quite a cool thing to cook. If you're feeling flush, grate some goddamn cheese into it before serving.

Good luck out there. :hungry:

Edited by rockywest

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I'm afraid that I disagree with Rock as to going for broke and maxing out everything.

 

Best to learn some discipline. You'll have a much nicer time when your money is your own and no one is after you. Also, if you can show that yo have been acting fairly and responsibly then you will be very much more effective if you have to complain about the bank's behaviour later on.

 

As to survival technicalities, if the OP can manage on £55 per month then he isn't doing badly at all. However, you've posted two very interesting looking recipes and maybe someone will give them a go and report back on them.

 

I sometimes make up a pasta sauce using tinned tomatoes, a tin of tuna in sunflower oil, some basil, herbes de provence, and leftover red wine if there is any - and it always works out pretty good.

 

When I was a student, I existed for several week on stews of potatoes and red lentils with cumin, turmeric and some herbs. It wasn't too bad and it got me through!! But I remember that I didn't have a sieve and nearly broke a tooth several times on little stones hidden with the lentils.

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Hope the OP tmlvs is OK - hasn't replied to the thread.

Aside from my recipe (which I can't imagine would be that helpful) there was some useful, sound advice given above.

One sympathizes with their financial predicament - however, a simple thank you costs, er, nothing...

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Hey, sorry I haven't replied so far, I've had a really busy couple of days for various reasons, mainly due to my grandfather's funeral (I'm not being ungrateful, honest!).Just thought I'd let you know I'm ok, and thank you all for your help and concern. I'll reply fully within the next couple of days, but I've had a read of all your replies and they're really helpful, especially the recipes. Thanks again, I'll let you know how I'm getting on soon.

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Like the posters above have suggested, things have a way of working out, tmlvs. Here's hoping next year is better for you - you'll pull it together.

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Just wanted to add...

 

Some fantastic advice here from all.

 

Hope you get sorted and back on your feet.

 

I've got a friend who I have "lent" a lot of money too. I'm now fully aware that the money is lent on a non return basis lol. I'm not a rich man, neither am I a doormat... But, I wouldn't change my Friend for the world. I'd be daft enough also to lend him my last fiver..

 

If your friend is worth having - they'll understand!

 

Sorry also for your sad loss at this time of the year :(

 

Regards x


It never rains but it pours...

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Another good basic recipe to have up your sleeve,

 

Cans of condensed chicken soup added undiluted to pasta makes a great quick sauce, add some chopped olives to this and nobody would know it wasn't made of simple ingredients.

 

Scrambled egg is very good, two eggs and a bit of milk whisked up in a plastic jug, add salt and pepper and nuke for 1 1/2 minutes, serve on hot toast and sprinkle with herbs or a shot of Worcestershire sauce...

 

If you have an Asda near you their value range sausages are very good, stick in slow cooker with onions and a shot of cider and you have a lovely stew to come home to - especially adding cheap veg to it.

 

Farmfoods is also a good source of cheap food, their mince and onions in a big bag for £2 would feed four people easily, take a bag of that, a stock cube of your choice mixed with hot water, and a bag of casserole veg, mix the lot together in a pot and stick in oven for 1/2 hour whilst boiling spuds, mash spuds, put on top of mince/veg mix and sprinkle some cheese if liked, put back in oven for 15 minutes and there you have shepherds pie.

 

All my family are getting home made stuff this year, I've just got a couple more small gifts to make and then I am finished.

 

As far as selling stuff to Cash Converters goes, it isn't a great idea, nor is the Freecycle one, that is not the point of Freecycle, if people find out you are doing it you can get into a lot of trouble and put on a 'blacklist' of the local Freecyclers.... the problem with selling stuff to Cash Converters is that once it is gone, what are you spending the money on and will the item need to be replaced? If you are getting rid of unwanted items fair enough, but selling a laptop you need or worse still, doing it on their 'buy and sell back' scheme is not a good way of budgetting.

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Hi sillygirl

 

'nuke for 1 1/2 minutes', surely that would be counter productive, radiation etc:lol:


Welcome to Consumer Action Group

 

'Challenges are what makes life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.'

Joshua J. Marine

 

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6) CAREY V HSBC (2009) CLICK HERE

7) DON'T BE BULLIED BY CREDITORS / DCA's CLICK HERE

8) IN DEBT DON'T PANIC CLICK HERE

9) FULL AND FINAL SETTLEMENT CLICK HERE

10) SALE OF GOODS ACT-EDUCATE YOUR RETAILER CLICK HERE

11) DISTANCE SELLING-EDUCATE YOR RETAILERCLICK HERE

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Here's a couple of dishes which have seen me through : )can be brought on the cheap to! (eg basics range)The Beanz ! (one up from the classic beans on toast!)Basic Baked BeansBasic pasta shapsCheap cheese - grated on topAnother pasta dish (maybe when I want to feel I'm in a restaurant)Basic pasta shapesBasics can of tinned tomatoes (maybe try get can with herbs already in)Mushrooms sliced or again from cannedBacon - chopped roughly into pieces (dry fry both to join the pasta and toms)pinch of pepperboth way better then any microwave meal, tip to get the best food prices shop as late as poss at night, just as the store is to close


Happy to share my experience but for your own protection, please check and double check what myself and other Caggers inform

...

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.”

 

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Also if you shop late in the evenings you can by stuff that they've reduced things like bread, yogurts, cheese's etc.


Welcome to Consumer Action Group

 

'Challenges are what makes life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.'

Joshua J. Marine

 

1) CLAIM BACK ALL PENALTY CHARGES CLICK HERE

2) CLAIM BACK ALL MIS-SOLD PPI CLICK HERE

3) COMPOUNDED CONTRACTUAL INTEREST CLICK HERE

4) REQUEST CCA FROM CREDITOR CLICK HERE

5) OFT- UNENFORCEABLE AGREEMENTS CLICK HERE

6) CAREY V HSBC (2009) CLICK HERE

7) DON'T BE BULLIED BY CREDITORS / DCA's CLICK HERE

8) IN DEBT DON'T PANIC CLICK HERE

9) FULL AND FINAL SETTLEMENT CLICK HERE

10) SALE OF GOODS ACT-EDUCATE YOUR RETAILER CLICK HERE

11) DISTANCE SELLING-EDUCATE YOR RETAILERCLICK HERE

12) SOGA SUMMARY CLICK HERE

13) WHICH? TEMPLATES [/url]CLICK HERE

14) DOES YOU BANK TREAT YOU FAIRLY BCOBSCLICK HERE

15) EVERYTHING HOUSING CLICK HERE

16) UTILITY BACKBILLING CLICK HERE

17) OFGEM - COMPLAINTSCLICK HERE

18) OFCOM - COMPLAINTS CLICK HERE

DON'T GIVE UP, THIS SITE WILL PROVIDE YOU WITH GUIDANCE AND EMPOWERMENT

 

Don't forget to donate to this site

 

Please let us know how your problem has been resolved, it could help fellow Caggers

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lol I had a similar problem recently (as when I opened up my company,t he first few months I rarely had a penny).

 

I pretty much lived off of Bangers, mash, onion gravy and spring greens for 3 months. Surprisingly cheap and filling.

 

Sainsburys Valus 8xBangers - 60p (2 meals)

Sainsburys Instant Mash - 40p (2 meals)

1 x Onion - 20p (2 meals)

1 x pack of cheap peppers - £1 (4 meals)

1 x pack of mushrooms - £1 (6 meals)

Gravy Powder - ~20p (too many meals to count)

Winter/SPring Greens - ~75p (~4 meals)

 

Also don't forget to use your nectar card as a backup.. I did this too! When you hit 500 points, thats £2.50 off your next till bill.

 

A trick with nectar at the automated checkouts is, when it asks you if you use your own bags, press YES, and press 9 (NO MORE THAN 9 OR IT CALLS THE ATTENDANT)... Free 9 points per :D

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Buy as many cheap root veg as you can carrots onions parsnips swedes turnip and potatoes, 1 can veg or beef broth soup *(optional) and 1lb of any cheap stewing steak, chop everything up put in a big pan with some gravy cook for a couple of hours, eat some freeze some and if you are feeling flush buy some suet, and flour and make dumplings, very filling and very healthy and feeds lots of people.

The bonus is chopping veg is very theraputic, gets rid of tension and has the added bonus of making you feel creative when its done.

Get a job in a restaurant cafe where they feed you while you are at work.

Look for reduced items in the supermarket

Go for a walk and look for wild mushrooms (if you know what tfro look for) wild garlic, blackberries etc etc.

Instant mashed potatoe and red sauce can keep you going for a week well it did me.

Does your Uni issue hardship loans, worth applying for one if they do,

Dont know what you are studying but you may no longer need your 1st year txt books so sell them

 

Things will get better


If I have been of any help, please click on my star and let me know, thank you.

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I just thought, if you're a uni student and you don't intend on getting any more loans etc... any time soon, and you're stuck at uni for the next 5-7 years, I'd personally get a DRO (Debt Relief Order) which is a sort of mini bankruptcy but not as impacting.. After uni, your credit file will be clear, and if you keep your nose clean, you will be debt free too :)

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