Whilst I am no role model for budgeting, or having a healthy obsession with shopping this year I’m really trying hard to keep the pennies in the piggy bank. Whether this means not eating out, having a cheeky chocolate milkshake after the gym – I’ve already worked the pounds off I deserve a treat! – or splurging my money on the latest fashion trends in Primark; I’m trying to keep my card in the purse and resist spending. Over the last couple of years as a student, I’ve picked up some helpful tips that are – hopefully – going to be put into action over my final year at university – possibly the scariest thought I’ve had in a while – and as I was putting out the Student Sunday’s Series I thought it would be great to share these How to Save Money at University tips with you.
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Plan your Meals
I am awful for one who ends up ordering takeaway but I cannot stress how much of a difference planning your meals makes. Originally I started the year with a freezer full of staples and a small selection of food in my fridge and cupboard, however throughout the year I started to accumulate more and more food that had to be wasted or just wasn’t eaten. It’s a big waste of money especially when it comes to fresh food that goes mouldy the fastest. So this year I’ve got my meal planner ready – I got this gorgeous one in my #BoxOfLame from That Lame Company – and I’ll be planning my meals weekly whilst looking in my cupboards for ingredients I may already have, this way not only am I using up food I already have but reducing the amount I waste as well. From my time working at Asda I learnt that the best time to shop is in the evenings as food with that day as the best before date will be reduced to the lowest price. Now most of this food goes way past that “best before” date and you can always stick it in the freezer to preserve it; it sometimes means you pick up the silliest bargains – I remember once reducing 23 x 9 pack’s of crumpets to 10p and they sold like hot cakes – just remember to be price savvy.
Whilst you’re a student make sure you take advantage of the great discounts being offered to you. There are a few well-known sites that you can join to get all these exciting deals including UniDays, Student Beans, Student Money Saver & Save the Student; this way you can just input a code online and voila you get 20% off your ASOS order. However, my favourite by far is the NUS Extra Card – seen in the picture above – it’s £12 for one year, £22 for two and £32 for three; not only is it a great form of ID but also gets you some amazing discounts in stores and restaurants including 40% off Pizza Express – that’s nearly half of your bill!. Although be careful with who you share your card details with as people can then use this to claim some of your one-off discounts – that’s why my details are blurred, I’m not gonna let anyone take away my gym discount – leaving you losing out.
As a university student living away from home or maybe perhaps commuting, you’ll probably find your local train station is now your second home. However, train fares can become costly and you may find getting to university or a trip home leaves you with a hole in your pocket. If you’re between the age of 16-25 you can take advantage of a 16-25 Railcard which saves you 1/3 of your fare. Whilst it’s quite expensive at £30 for one year or £70 for three, I suggest going for the three-year option as it saves you £20. It quickly pay’s for itself and I find sometimes my fare from University to Home instead of being £13 is £4 or a Return Trip to London which would normally cost me £30 will cost me £16. Out of everything that saves me money at university, I would say this is the most important and possibly the biggest saver.
Sell Unwanted Belongings
If you find yourself in a pickle and out of pocket or perhaps you want some cash for new clothes, think about selling a few clothes or items to push you from being in the red back to the green. Whether it be a wardrobe clear out or decluttering the whole of your room, look for things that are maybe unused or in good condition that could possibly be sold on to new, loving owner. Ebay and Depop are both great to sell your unwanted belongings and earn a bit of cash on the side of university without having to both from your computer screen. I am about to put a few of my own clothes on Depop, my username is farewellmay so keep a look out!
Get a Part Time Job
Worse comes to worse and you either blew all your student loan or you were never given a decent one to being with – happens to a lot of us – you could always get a part time job working a few hours during your days off from university or at the weekend. Most universities suggest no more than 8 hours working a week but this number is totally up to you; if you feel you need more money or can handle the workload go do it. However, I would say don’t get pushed into doing more and more hours as sometimes people can forget that at university a lot of your work comes from self-study rather than lessons. Sometimes employers presume that if you don’t have a lesson you’re free to work but you just have to stand up and say NO, don’t feel guilty about this as you have a life too and in the majority of part-time jobs you’re not planning to stay the long term and need to pass your degree to get a job more suited to you. I would say the maximum a student can work and keep it managed is about 16 hours so don’t go and do 30 hours in a week – I already tried and you end up hating everything in life – . Preferably try and find an employer who will give you a permanent seasonal contract or perhaps somewhere you can work at your university location during term time and then transfer back to your hometown for the holidays – p.s. Wilko is great for transfers & I know both Boots & Asda do permanent seasonal contracts – .
I hope you enjoyed these How to Save money at University Tips, make sure you check out my previous Student Sunday post all on What to do after you’ve got your Results!