How a Smart-Pig loan could save you money

There are many temptations now in the world of credit.  Student finances are tighter than ever, with rent, fees and cost of living all rising more quickly than student income.

Many people claim short-term loans are expensive.  But the range of credit available to students is growing, including much larger loans at lower interest rates but over long periods of times.  Take this example:

Loan amount £6,200. Duration 12 years 5 months. Total amount paid over life of the loan: £12,350.04. Interest rate during studies 11.30% pa. (variable) Interest rate after graduation 9.30% pa. (variable).  Representative 11.8% APR (variable).

Here’s some things to be aware of:

1.) This 11.8% APR loan costs £6,150.04 in interest and fees.

Lower interest rates add up – especially with compound interest.
After 5 years, a 15% per annum loan  has grown to double what you borrowed.  Low monthly repayments of a few hundred pounds may be  tempting, but this is a huge amount of money.  Are you unwittingly spending the money for your first car or house deposit, before you’ve even earned it?

2.) Student Finance and support from parents are designed to cover your cost of living.

A large loan to improve your quality of life may be tempting, but remember there is no shame to living on a shoestring at university – in fact, it’s a rite of passage and part of the fun. You may see a figure going around that an average student spends around £735 p/month even though the average maintenance loan is £458 p/month, which might make a big loan look more appealing.

But hang on – the average student also receives additional funding which is made up of either a Maintenance Grant or a calculated “family contribution”. Things may be tight, but not THAT tight.

As Mark Twain once said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics”. Don’t be fooled into dishing out £6,150.

3.) You are signing up a a burden on your finances for the next 10 or more years.

With a longer term loan, you are committing to making payments of perhaps several hundred pounds a month, for 10 years or more.  As a student, how can you be certain that this will work out?  Your loan payments are an obligation that will be reported on your credit file, and any mistake will affect your ability to access other credit.

4.) Small, short emergency loans are much cheaper – even with a higher APR.

At Smart-Pig, we think you should tighten your belt and try to live between your means, instead of resorting to long term finance.  If it doesn’t always go to plan, we’ll be there for you – and the occasional fix will cost you a lot less than £6,150.  A two week emergency loan from Smart-Pig of £200 will cost you just £22.40 in fees, even though the APR would be 1,492%. And what’s more, you can graduate without a long term financial burden from a private loans company.

Finally…

Not everyone without a maintenance grant can rely on support from their family, so if this is the case a longer term loan might be a sensible option for the confident and the brave. But for the rest of us, why spend £6,150 ?

Smart-Pig.com Representative Example APR 1130% based on credit: £250 for 43 days. Interest: £86. Interest rate: 292%pa (fixed). Total to repay: £336. (Rep APRs change, updated 18/05/2015).

What Not To Spend Your Student Loan On: Part 2

What Not To Spend Your Student Loan On: Part 2

With student loans just hitting your account, we’ve come up with another list of items you simply should not buy. Print this off and stick it next to your computer as a deterrent for late-night online shopping.

17th Century Copies Of Black Magic Manuscripts

inside6 (1)

At £3000 this is one to team up with your mate on. You always thought you would experiment at university, but instead of kissing other boys or girls you have instead taken up Black Magic. Suddenly the Uni of Lancaster is your own personal Hogwarts. You too can summon demons to do your bidding, curse lecturers and/or send the flatmate you don’t like insane. A world of possibilities awaits. We advise first checking with your university to see what their policy is in regards to pacts with the devil. *Goat blood not included. 

Fortnum & Mason ‘St James’ Hamper

Capture

Coming in at £1000 Fortnum & Mason claim this hamper is fit for a king. The only kingly aspect of getting this delivered to halls is that they will be using a solid silver stilton-spoon to fight the peasants off the foie gras. What’s more, once stashed away in the safety of your room there are only so many days it will sustain you before you are starved out and have to pop round the corner for a Gregg’s pasty.

Buscemi High-tops

trainer

In part one you were treated to a Lady-Macbeth-style monologue over my dark desire for a pair of Dior high-tops. The problem has been growing ever since, as now gaze wantonly at this tasteful, nay visionary, pair of Buscemi high-tops coming in at £620. Gold padlocks are no longer for cheap handbags and teenage diaries – the shoe padlock is now a thing. The laces on these babies have NO excuse for coming undone. Don’t buy them with your student loan – I’ll become unhinged by the injustice.

Alexander McQueen ‘Tech’ Backpack

AMB

There are several reasons why this McQueen backpack is a no-go. Referred to as the ‘Tech’ backpack, and costing £1295, once bought you will be unable to afford to put any tech inside it. Forget the iPad – you’ve already taken that down to CEX to fund the weekly food shop because of this. Also for that price, just look at it – it’s so boring! For this amount of money you would expect it to cook you breakfast, give you family planning advice, write all your essays and produce gold goose eggs daily. Instead, it will just sit in the corner mocking you and pretending to be a much, much cheaper backpack.

iPhone Leg Mount

Smart pig

The website that reportedly sold these has disappeared from the internet, so if you really want to be the sort of utter bellend who straps their iPhone to their leg in a lecture you’re simply going to have to make it yourself. We estimate £30 for supplies. It’s not going to break the bank but it will destroy your reputation, and more than one person is going to wonder what the hell you’re doing under the table. We’re not really sure of the appeal of this, but we think it’s designed for private home use where you might need a hands-free viewing experience. Use your imagination.

Welcome To Our Blog

Smart-Pig.com is the student lender launched in 2012 by students at Warwick and Herts Universities , in order to give students looking for a short term loan a better deal.

We’re not the same as other short term lenders.  Smart-Pig was actually a spin-off from a protest against short term lending that thought out of the box – we rolled up our sleeves and went to head-to-head with the big, ugly giants. One of our founders had a terrible experience with a certain straight-talking lender after they talked his balance straight up to silly levels and sucked his whole student loan away without permission.

Smart-Pig was started partly using one of the government’s fantastic youth Start-Up Loans.  We were a nominated in 2013 for Rockstar Youth Best Overall Business and in 2014 were a finalist for Alternative Lender of the Year.

What we do differently

  • Grace Period – no extra fixed late payment or penalty fees if you miss your due date, for up to 10 days. Just in case.
  • Interest Cap – our voluntary interest cap is HALF the cap introduced by the FCA
  • No Rollovers – our short term loans don’t turn into long term ones
  • Ethical Pledge – the way we treat our customers is never going to change!
  • Founded by Students for Students – no-one knows student money like we do

Payday Loan Alternative

We see Smart-Pig loans as a payday loan alternative and not regular payday loans  (although they do come under the FCA definition).  This is because our company genuinely does work very differently – especially when it comes to the hidden stuff you don’t really see. It’s all because we were set up as an ethical lender from the ground up, meaning our pricing, loan terms, tangible ethical safeguards and internal procedures all have students’ welfare in mind.


Representative Example APR
1024% based on credit: £200 for 55 days. Interest: £88. Interest rate: 292%pa (fixed). Total to repay: £288

Summer Holidays – What Next?

The grades are nearly in and the term is out…so what now?  There’s the obvious answer of ‘PARTY. HARD.’, but beyond that, and to a more constructive end, what are your options as a student or immediate grad?

Many of us have the local cafe, pub, bar, restaurant, sports club that we can head back to in the summer months for some part-time work – possibly even in another country (Magaluf, we’re looking at you).  It’s tempting, and often necessary, to go straight back there after you finish the year – but it’s important to consider the long-term goals as well and think about how to get into a career you’ll enjoy.

DO…get a part time job

Waiter
Standard…

Lots of places will be willing to take on workers for the summer season, even if they aren’t openly advertising a position, and it’s not just holiday towns.

With the graduate jobs market ever more competitive (we won’t dwell on this for long) and the need to demonstrate in job interviews that you’ve spent your whole life building up to being an *insert job role here*, the long university holidays can be an excellent time for work experience.  They won’t necessarily be formal internships, and could be as short as a day’s worth of work, but you’ll be surprised how much you can get out of just 8 hours.

Use all your connections, take up every opportunity that sounds even remotely interesting (at least you’ll find out either way), and don’t be snooty – even spending a day making tea in the right place can help you identify what you do or don’t want to do.  Plus, you can always big it up on your CV…

DON’T…travel 

Image of a no entry sign
Don’t even try it. Especially in Greece.

Unless you’re booked into a grad scheme/job right from the beginning of September, or going on a family holiday, it would be silly to travel in British summer time.  It’s the height of the holiday season meaning that a) it’ll be more expensive and b) most places will be busier.

If you’ve got the availability to travel before or after the school holidays then do – make the most of being able to at this point in your life.  You’ll get more for your money, which might even open up the possibility of going to places you hadn’t thought you could afford to get to.

Doesn’t mean you can’t plan though – there are tonnes of useful blogs out there for cheap travelling, like this one.

DO….do internships 

Modern city office buildings
Go on, you break that ceiling one unpaid week at a time

Sadly this is going to be a fact of life for consideration in a lot of job roles, especially creative ones. Having said that, you should always try to get paid as much as possible for them because this drives up the wages for everybody – it’s more of a standard now in larger cities, including a London Living Wage.  The more we stand for fair pay the better, and if it’s really worth it to do an unpaid one then make the most of living at home if you’re able to, and of being able to work weekends and evenings so you can do internships during the working week.

Make the most of your contacts and the fact that summer is a quiet time for businesses – less of a critical time with fewer key decision periods, where employees are more likely to be able to spend time talking you through a company, different job roles and the industry.

DO…try new things

Artist working a pottery wheel
Pottery – not just for the recently retired since 2300 BC

Be curious, be nosy, be open-minded, be adventurous.  Explore things to do for free (TimeOut has a dedicated section for several UK cities) whether a budget is forcing you to or not!  If there’s a hobby or sport you’ve always wanted to try then see if there are intense short courses locally.

DON’T…ignore your uni buddies 

It’s all too easy to assume you’ll be best mates again by the time you get back to university in the autumn, but don’t use that as an excuse to keep in touch.  Especially if this is your last summer of freedom before you have to start thinking about ACTUAL LIFE.

Consolidate the friendships you’ve made in the term by making the effort to visit in the holidays.  It’s another good way of getting to places you’ve not been to before (potentially with a free place to stay) even if you just hang out – the intensity of university friendships can quickly dissipate, so avoid the awkward reunions when you realise the last time you saw somebody, three months ago, was when they were naked and painted like an Avatar for the Wednesday social…

DO….enjoy it!  This freedom won’t last forever.  Trust us.

Congratulations to everybody who has received their final grades and passed their degrees.  Now go and celebrate!

Winners of our Tesco Competition

Here at Smart-Pig.com, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading through the many entries to our Tesco Voucher Competition.

From Onion Rings to Green tea and Smarties (yes, both together!) you’ve had us going out for more than one lunch a day to buy some of your weird and wonderful revision snacks.

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve chosen 3 people at random and therefore, please give your congratulations to:

  • Amy Skelton
  • Bradley Thompson
  • Amy Brown

You’ve all won a £50 Tesco Voucher, what you buy is up to you ;)

Please can you PM us on our Facebook account with your postal address for us to send the vouchers to.

Once again congratulation and for the rest, keep an eye out for more competitions coming soon.

We’ve Done It Again!

Our efforts for ethical, safe, short term student loans have been recognised by the judges at the Credit Today Awards. Smart-Pig.com has been made a finalist for “Alternative Lender of The Year – Specialist Lender” 2015!

We’re thrilled that our 10-day grace period, 50% interest cap and the way we do business were recognised for innovation and treating our customers fairly.

With over 96% of our customers saying that they would recommend Smart-Pig.com to a friend, we think they’ll approve, too.

We’ve been on an epic roller coaster of a ride since starting Smart-Pig.com from our student bedrooms at university some 4 years ago, but the journey has been well worth it and we’re proud that we’ve been able to help thousands of students through their degrees.

So keep your fingers crossed for us! :)

Tom and Shreiff, Co-Founders of Smart-Pig.com

Employability month: The Application.

University for me was an absolute blast: lots of parties, making new lifelong friends and, oddly enough, fitting into a reassuring regime of study, partying, cramming, exams, summer break, rinse and repeat x3 (of course there was a little more to it than that).

However, this almost comfort blanket of a regime might make you forget that your degree will come to an end. Once you have your mortarboard you’ll have to face the real world of work, and that means having to sell yourself (on paper that is!).

So we’re running an employability month, where we give you tips and advice on how to secure that winning job after you graduate and help you stand out from the crowd.

This week we look at employability skills and capabilities, and how you demonstrate them in your CV.

What are employability skills and capabilities?

So, what exactly are employers looking for? Look up employability on Google and you’ll find various lists and inventories of requirements which are all pretty similar.

Collated from a number of sources, the below look rather obvious, but – coming from us, where we’ve personally seen many CVs – people often forget to sell themselves in these areas, which are:

 Personal attributes

  • A positive attitude: a ‘can do’ approach, good work ethic and willingness to learn
  • Good personal presentation
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Reliability
  • Timekeeping and personal organisation
  • Team working, collaboration and co-operation
  • Flexibility
  • Commercial awareness and customer focus

 Skills

  • Communication – oral and written
  • Numeracy
  • Computer literacy/IT skills.

Demonstrating employability skills and qualities: hints and tips

We can assume that you have these transferable skills and qualities, especially as you’ve made it to university, so the need is to identify them and demonstrate them. There are plenty of opportunities to present yourself well in the application and interview process. We’ve got a video post next week from a leading HR Consultant who worked for KPMG – make sure you share this with your friends!

Stage 1. Application and CV

This is your first, and maybe only, chance to show your written communication and presentation skills.

  • Make sure that your application looks good – clear, concise and with no spelling mistakes. Always get it in before the closing date in a format to suit the employer. With spelling mistakes, poor presentation or not checking and rechecking for any typos or formatting issues , you’d do well to assume you won’t being hearing back!
  • If there is a name on the job advertisement or a number to ring and find out more about the position, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Do some research about the company beforehand, study the job description and ask questions – even if it’s just about parking or to find out how many people are on the interview panel.  This shows initiative and enthusiasm. It also shows that you are resourceful and proactive, and that you have telephone communication skills.
  • Always send a covering letter or email to support the application. This is where you introduce yourself, highlighting the personal qualities that match the job description and referring to the job-specific qualifications on your CV.  A good covering letter encourages recruiters to read more –demonstrating higher-level communication skills. With competition as fierce as it is, there is absolutely no excuse for sending your application without a covering letter.
  • The personal statement at the beginning of your CV is also about employability. This needs to reflect the personal strengths and transferable skills appropriate to the position you are applying for –attention to detail, strategic thinking, initiative, flexibility, co-operation, willingness to learn.
  • Making sure that your CV is tailored to the position you are applying for shows that you have an understanding of what the employer is looking for, demonstrating commercial awareness and customer focus. Carefully match your successes and achievements to the job description: if you’ll be working in a team, highlight co-operative and collaborative activities; if you will be working on your own, focus on time management and personal organisation and your ability to complete a project. Remember to include your IT or computer skills.

Loans for Students. Warning: Late repayment can cause you serious money problems. For help, go to: www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk. Representative Example APR 1130% based on credit: £250 for 43 days. Interest: £86. Interest rate: 292%pa (fixed). Total to repay: £336