The start of University equals the start of independent adult life. I didn’t believe this at first as movies and media seem to portray University as one big party but of course, reality bit me on the backside.
For once in your life, you have a big sum of money and no one to tell you what to do with it. So, when that first student loan installment drops, you may be tempted to splash your cash on a brand-new pair of shoes or a MacBook, but PLEASE before you do…stop and think carefully about your finances for the upcoming months. With having to purchase things like food, bus passes, stationary, and books that are an ESSENTIAL part of starting University, you must budget your money very carefully.
So, I decided to put together some of my top money saving hacks to help you guys who are just about to start your new life at University …because student life is all fun and games until you find yourself poor and hungry.
- First of all, let me emphasise the importance of NOT RELYING on your Student Finance for everything! Your loans can only spread so far, and within a matter of weeks or months, you could find yourself in a sticky situation
- To avoid relying on your loans, my top tip would be to get a job in the Summer holidays before you start University, so you can start saving as soon as possible
- Do some research on the best savings accounts that are currently available and start putting in a chunk of your monthly pay or whatever you have spare every week. I personally try to put £10-£25 in my account, every week.
- Once you get your first student loan drop, put aside £50 – £200 for EMERGENCIES. Put it in your savings account or ask your parents to keep it for you. University life can be unpredictable – sometimes you can face issues like laptops breaking down or needing equipment for your course, so it’s always good to be prepared.
- After setting some money aside, start budgeting. Write down a list of your initial costs such as bills, rent or bus passes etc and put this money aside.
- Split up the remainder of your money so that you have enough for food every week. Also set aside some money for your “allowance” – this is the money that you can use for things like going out or eating out. In my case, I have a casual job which I get paid weekly and a permanent job where I get paid monthly. So usually, I use the weekly pay I get (roughly £25) for food, and other expenses while my monthly pay goes towards my rent and bills.
- Get a casual job while at University. Unitemps are great for temporary and casual jobs which you can fit in around your studies. Bars, pubs, cinemas and theatres are also great for Students as they are normally casual and pay weekly.
- When it comes to food – go shopping in places like Aldi for staples like tinned food, pasta, rice, and bread etc. For your fruit and veg, head over to the market.
- Go to the supermarkets at night time for things like meats, or frozen food etc. They often slash the prices to almost 90% off if the food is almost to its expiry date. You can often find loaves of breads, oven pizzas, frozen chicken, etc which you can put in the freezer and defrost when you need to
- Get your flatmates together and split a meal! You can all cook a Sunday roast or make your own pizzas and split the cost. This will also allow you to bond with your neighbors.
- Being on a budget does not mean that you can’t have fun. You can still go out and eat out, but you must be strict with your budget. Take advantage of things like student discount or coupons which can save you up to 40% off food in restaurants like Frankie’s and Benny’s or Pizza Express.
- Carry cash around with you instead of your card. It’s hard to keep track of how much you’re spending when you keep mindlessly pulling your card out. Always get out exactly how much you need for the week in cash, so you’re not tempted to overspend.
- Look out for Apps that give you free things like food, coupons, or gift cards. Apps like the Highcross app, TGIFridays, or Auntie Anne’s Pretzels will gift you items when you sign up with them. These gifts range from cocktails, side dishes, or even – a free meal!
- Get a bike or walk to Uni instead of taking the bus or driving. It can save you some extra pennies AND it is also great for exercise (which means you don’t have to spend extra money on a gym membership!)
- Hold onto your pennies! – as stupid as it sounds but those little 1ps, 2ps and 5ps you have hiding in your bag can amount to a lot after you accumulate them over time.
While University is meant to be the absolute time of your life, there will be moments of doubt, homesickness and lack of money. But, thinking ahead and planning your finances will make facing these obstacles a whole lot smoother.
I hope these tips have you helped you in some way, and Good Luck!
See you all on the flipside!