As I’m sure you’re all aware, I am a University Student, and although Student Finance does allow me to live a pretty decent life, I do have to be careful about money. I have learnt over the last year and a half (and I guess while I was growing up too) a few tips and tricks of how to save money – especially when you’re a student.
Don’t Spend Money
That product that you don’t actually need, it’s a simple process of don’t buy it! Every time you come across something you want, ask yourself two questions, and only if the answer to one of them is 100% yes do you buy it; 1. do you NEED it? 2. would you be devastated if it went out of stock/season?
This is probably self explanatory – hence why I’m starting with it – but knowing how much money you have to spend lets you know… how much you have to spend. I mean this is a lot of self restraint, it’s not easy to keep to a budget plan once you’ve made one, but it helps to know. Here’s how I work mine out;
Work out how much money you know you DEFINITELY have coming in; in my case student finance, a University Bursary and my two part time jobs.
Work out how much money all your life essentials are; rent, food, bills. Then add another 10% to this – just to make sure. Then what I have left is what I can spend!
Another thing you can do here is make note of what you spend where and how much, then at the end of the week/month you can review what you spend and where to save money.
So the Student Union Bar/Cafe does great food, or you love to go and buy some treats in the shop by campus – or as some of my friends do, in COSTA (how the hell they afford that I will never know). And so I save myself a lot of money bringing food with me to campus; even if it’s only some crisps and a cereal bar, or a salad. Another tip that goes alongside this is eat a good breakfast, cereal/porridge/eggs are fairly cheap and will help keep you going for the rest of the morning at least.
I’m not a vegetarian, and I love my meat, but let’s face it, meat is expensive. My vegetarian friends spend significantly less on their food than I do. It pays to eat meet free, even if just for one meal a week. And there are some really nice recipes out there for vegetarian meals!
Share Meals/Cook in Batch
This is a tip which I didn’t realise actually worked until I started cooking meals everyday with someone. Cooking with someone actually saves money because you waste less and buying things in bigger portions saves money. If you’re on your own, you an still do this, just freeze what you have left over.
Buy a Water Bottle
Bottled water can be up to £2 for a bottle! Absolutely cray I know! So spend, I don’t know, £3 on a water bottle, and fill it up every day. Water out the tap – yes you still have to pay for it – is A LOT cheaper than bottled water. And most Universities will have somewhere you fill up your water bottle while you were out!
Obviously time is valuable, but if you are buying objects – especially if they are very expensive – then this could save you a bit, and sometimes a lot. There are websites out there that do it for you (e.g. comparethemarket.com), but, if you have the time, you can do it for yourself. Just be careful to buy products through sites/shops you trust, sometimes if an object is very cheap, it can be too good to be true.
Sign Up to UniDays
I guess effectively this is spending money to save money… but sometimes you just have to spend money. UniDays is effectively your student ID card, but on the internet. You log in using your University Login details, and it unlocks student discount codes!
If you are going to University away from home you will probably be travelling, a lot. I don’t like to think of how much money I have spent on train tickets in the last 2 years. But if you don’t have a Rail Card, why not? The one I have – a 16-25 Rail Card – is around £70 for 3 years, and some bank branches even give you one for free with your student current account (e.g. Santander). They save you 33% on all Rail Fairs! And they have saved me a lot over the years.
Go To Your Freshers Fair
I’d say even when you are not only a Fresher. Not only do you receive loads of free pens, and random sweets, but companies come with discounts, offers, and occasionally even jobs. You can get yourself some great bargains there, and if not, you still come out with a handful of free pens! haha