Read on for 5 super-useful budgeting tips for students.
A lot of people consider their student years as the best time of their life. Although the ultimate aim of university is to open up employment doors for your future career, the independent and liberated lifestyle it brings is perhaps the main reason for its affection. Some fantastic opportunities can be found at university from an academic, work and social perspective. Unfamiliar new acquaintances can often turn into lifelong friends.
However, the students who make the most out of their university experience will no doubt be efficient with their money. Attaining a degree isn’t a privilege and a substantial amount of money is needed to both enrol on a course and then have an enjoyable social life whilst there. Although the offer of student loans and bursaries will be taken up by the majority, this won’t cover the cost of all your living expenses and desired social pursuits.
Therefore, saving money in whichever way possible becomes an important consideration throughout the uni years. The stereotypical student scrounge role often comes into play as the pennies attempt to be saved. For many however, the cutbacks they make allow them to enjoy a more productive time and thus are worth it in the end.
If you’re looking to go to university, or are a current student and believe you’re spending too much, here are 5 budgeting tips to help you through your degree.
Cut down the Food Bill
One of your main outgoings as a student will be on food. An empty stomach can affect your studies and overall health in general so skipping meals to save money isn’t a wise move. Instead, look out for bargains that will make your food budget stretch longer. Even small savings per week will soon add up into substantial amounts.
A good tip is to shop on a full stomach, this stops you from craving products round the supermarket alleys you don’t actually need. Look out for reduced items; be it foods reaching their sell-by date or damaged tin cans. Halal meats are usually cheaper than regular meats also whilst ‘no frills’ products will also provide you with good saving opportunities. Also buy foods that can be stored for a long time such as pasta, rice, beans and tuna to keep you well stocked.
Have Nights Out, In
There is perhaps as much pressure on you as a student to partake in a few drinks on a night as there is to achieve a good grade. The temptation often can’t be resisted, especially with peers all seemingly willing to go out as much as possible. As much as we plan to have a ‘quiet few’ in a small bar, this can often turn into a full blown night out with costly taxis rides and kebabs to top it off.
Instead of this approach, why not simply invite friends over or take a trip over to their place? You can buy alcohol and food in supermarkets for much less than you can in bars and nightclubs. With the right people then these nights with a good film, multi-player console and lively drinking game can be as enjoyable as a night out.
Your degree at university will typically require you to spend money on books and academic equipment to help complete the course. Buying the writing utensils, notepad books and Dictaphones to help with taking down important lecture notes can often be found for insignificant amounts both online and in discount shops.
When it comes to important course books however, some of them can reach unexpectedly high levels. With potentially dozens of other students vying for the library copy, this route may not be a viable option. Instead, look on websites such as Amazon or eBay for second-hand versions at a reduced rate. Also, many graduated students sell on their course books for a low amount as they’re not needed anymore; check out book sales or advertisements boards to try and get lucky.
If you weren’t fortunate enough already to be going through one of the most exciting periods of your life, being a student also entitles you to an abundance of discounts throughout the UK. Many fashion shops on the high street such as New Look and Burton offer a decent discount on their products, whilst Apple also provides a reduction on their laptop range if you’re in higher education.
To be awarded with these discounts, an NUS Extra card is often required which costs £12 and lasts for 12 months. This initially outlay can save you plenty more over the year in stores and online. Also look out for bus travel cards and gym memberships which also come at a reduced rate for students.
Saving money at university requires a lot of willpower. You are at a time of your life when materialistic possessions are an important part of fitting in. Naturally, if all your friends appear to be buying the latest electronic gadgets and fashion accessories you no doubt crave the same possessions. You must always remember their budget may be different than yours however.
Overspending your student loan early on in the term can have detrimental effects on your university experience. Plan a budget, stick to it rigidly and always look out for offers that reduce your outgoings. This will give you the best chance to enjoy your time at university without the constant worry of running out of money.
A video from Salford University with loads of great money saving tips.