Here are some of ELUCEO’s tips on how to get through uni without totally clearing out your overdraft:
The best way to save money at uni is just to have a little bit of self control. Chances are, when your first loan payment goes in, it will be the most money you have ever had in your bank account. The temptation to go out and blow it all on a week long binge of drunkenness, takeaways and shopping is immense but restrain yourself!! Don’t let yourself buy a whole load of new clothes or stuff for you room because you’ll buy things you don’t need and will never use. Instead, give yourself a weekly allowance which will last you until your next payment date. If you want to make a big purchase then you need to put a bit aside for a few weeks to pay for it rather than blowing all your money with no thought to the consequence.
Start a Savings Account
This will help you to manage to restrain yourself! Most banks offer an online savings or easy savings account that has no minimum amount and will instantly transfer money to and from your current account. This helps to split up your money and stop you from having access to all of it at once. If you put your entire loan straight into your savings account, you can set up a weekly or monthly direct debit from this to your current account to make doubly sure that you stick to your prescribed allowance.
Image Credit: Photos.com
Be Aware of Student Discounts/ NUS cards
Everyone knows that students get discounts at some shops and museums and most of these discounts are available to everyone as long as they have a student card. However, there are so many more places that do student discount than you think and lots of these are only open to students with NUS cards. These only cost £17 and offer discounts at around 170 stores so are totally worth the price. Make sure you double check for discounts every time you shop because you could end up saving a fortune.
Keep an Eye on your Bills
Having to pay energy, water and electric bills is something most students have never done before and it can be quite daunting. Don’t be fooled into only getting a house with bills included though because often you will over pay. Do your research and find out the average cost of bills in your area for your size of house. Then shop around to get the best deal. You might get chilly but keeping your heating off for as long as possible will also save you a lot of money.
You may be fooled into thinking that student insurance is by far the best and cheapest out there but this is not always the case. Also, a lot of the time, your belongings will be covered by your parents’ home insurance so always talk to them before you take out a policy. Companies that only cover one or two products can be good because you can get a cheap policy with low premiums to cover the most important things like your laptop and phone.
One of the biggest expenditures for students is food. If you have never shopped for food before it can be really easy to spend an astronomical amount of money in the supermarket. The best way to avoid this is to buy in bulk; anything with a sell by dates can be frozen in individual portions for you to use later on. Also, save money by buying the cheapest version of products like vegetables, tinned food and cupboard staples like pasta and rice. Try not to buy too much meat because it is pricey, but when you do, buy the good stuff because the quality is far far better. Buying own brand goods can also save lots of money. Own branded things like biscuits, crisps, pizzas, teabags and condiments will be almost no different to their branded counterparts but they could cost half as much.
Image Credit: Melvin Price/ Flickr.com
Cooking cleverly will also help you to save time and money. Once you have bought all your food in bulk you can make a couple of meals in bulk and then freeze them. Something like bolognaise sauce can be frozen really easily in individual portions. This will mean that, even if you do start to run low on money in the weeks before your next loan payment, you will never have to go hungry.
Pack your Lunch
You might think that people that bring their lunch into uni are way too organised and way too smug but they do have the right idea. If you buy lunch everyday you will spend at the very least £15 a week. This is quite a lot of money for the same boring sandwich everyday.
Buy Travel in Advance
It might seem like a massive amount of money to drop in one go but you will save a bomb if you buy a bus or rail pass for the entire year. Most places do pretty decent students deals and it means that you never need feel guilty if you want to jump on the bus because it’s cold or raining.
Image Credit: Takashi Hososhima/ Flickr.com
Get a Railcard
Most teenagers already have these before they go to uni but if you don’t, buy one. They only cost £70 for the whole three years you are at uni and they save you a third off each train journey. This makes going home much cheaper and easier. Lots of companies offer free railcards to students who take up deals with them, this is great if you wanted their product anyway but don’t be fooled into getting a certain insurance policy or bank account just because of the free railcard because they are not that expensive anyway in the long run.
Drink at the Union
Most students' unions offer a hugely discounted price for all alcoholic drinks. Even though it might not be as cool as the bar around the corner you will save a loads if you go to the union or other university run bars for your post-library drinks.
Don’t buy books!
So many students waste a fortune in their first weeks of uni buying all the books from the reading list. This is a waste because most courses have readings from different books every week so you don’t know which ones you will need the most. Also if something appears often on the reading list they will definitely a fair few copies of it in the library. At least wait and see which books your lecturers advise you to buy, and if they say none, then listen to them!
Image Credit: Wohnai/ Flickr.com
Kit out your Flat for Less
As with books, don’t go and buy out the whole of ikea before you move into a flat. Your housemates will also have kitchen stuff and you would be amazed the number of flats that end up with 8 kettles and toasters. Find out what things they are bringing and then you can fill in the gaps, this means you will definitely have everything you need and you will save money.
Many students don’t know this but most universities have hardship funds or grant systems to help out students from poorer backgrounds or those in financial difficulty. If you have had a job for the first two years of uni, for example, and have had to give it up due to your work load in third year, some universities will subsidise you. It is really worth going to the union and exploring your options if you are struggling to make ends meet.