Moving to university is an exciting time- meeting new friends, experiencing new things and for most, living on your own for the first time. Whilst this may seem like a dauting new venture, it doesn’t have to be! Living away from home is an incredibly rewarding experience, when you can be your own self and learn life skills and become responsible. However, living away from your family comes with a lot of challenges; particularly money. If you’re wondering how to cope on your own handling your own finances, here’s my Top 5 Money Hacks For Students!
- Create A Budget
I’ll get the boring one (but the most important one) out the way first. Calculate your income for the year (or term if this is easier to calculate). This means adding up all your student loans, grants, bursaries and part-time job salary (if you have one). Then estimate your fixed expenses, like your rent or student housing, books, bills and groceries.
Try and estimate what you have leftover. If you have a surplus, set aside a portion of this (maybe 20%) for entertainment & travel (university trips and holidays are a great way to bond with uni friends!) and the rest you can save for future needs.
2. Join The Student Union
The Student Union (SU) is a great place to have fun on a budget! Join a club or society for a small fee and these clubs will organise events all throughout the year. Most of these clubs have a budget set aside for these members’ events…minimising the cost for you! They’ll be movie nights, sports events, quizzes and maybe even meals at the SU for you to attend! *Bonus tip- food at the SU tends to be a lot lot cheaper than going to other pubs or restaurants.
3. Do A Big Shop
Studies have shown that doing a grocery shop once or twice a month is a lot more cost-efficient than once a week. But, how do you do this effectively, without over buying? First, write a list; try to include a lot of dry items that you can use for multiple meals, such as rice and pasta. I’d also recommend including tinned ingredients to your list, such as tinned tomatoes and different pulses and beans. These can be the base for many meals, such as pasta sauces, chilli or curry. Secondly, buy frozen vegetables or items that can be kept for a long time in the fridge or freezer. This minimises the chance of your food going off and you wasting good raw ingredients. Check your cupboards and fridges before your shop, whilst making your list, to avoid duplicating anything. And of course, shopping in large supermarkets is a lot cheaper than shopping at corner shops or convenience stores. Try and shop at these places as little as possible, unless you run out of milk or loo roll!
4. Be Conscious Of Your Electricity & Gas
I wish someone would have told me how expensive gas and electricity was! To minimise my bills, I seldom turned on the heating (blankets in student accommodation and cosy pyjamas are a must!), and make sure that lights are switched off when you’re not using them. It sounds like a pain but it really does help keep your energy bills down.
5. Second-Hand Is Awesome!
Especially for books! I remember my first week of university, I was told I needed to buy a specific biology textbook. I went straight to my local bookstore and bought a brand new one for a whopping £60! I used the textbook twice my whole university studies…a lot of my classmates bought the textbook second-hand for about 20 quid! From then on, I stuck to buying all my textbooks on eBay; it really saved me a lot of money.
These five tips are simple, but if implemented well, can save you a lot of money at university! Remember, having fun doesn’t mean having to spend a lot of money!