Being a student can be tough – for most it will be the first time that they are living on their own without the ever watchful eye of mum and dad and this comes with new responsibilities.
One of the most difficult things, besides your actual degree of course, will be how to budget properly; your maintenance loan won’t go that far so it’s important to have a vague plan of how best to spend it. We have put together a few pointers which should help you survive through the penny pinching term months.
Book in advance
One of the things that students are famous for are leaving things to the last minute. Whether it’s cramming for an exam or waiting until he last possible second to book a train, timekeeping has never been seen as a strong suit of the university population. If you know you’re going to be going somewhere, whether it’s for a trip back home or a just a getaway, make sure you book it well in advance. Waiting until the last minute can result in wildly inflated prices that might prevent you from eating for the next week.
Take advantage of student offers
Your student discount is a ticket to thousands of 10%-offs, free cheeseburgers or free delivery offers. Although it may not seem like a lot, these savings can add up and you will be happy about it when the loans run out. It’s also worthwhile investing in things like an NUS card to get your student discounts and a 16-25 railcard, which, while not specifically for students, saves you 1/3 off all off peak travel. An NUS card and a 16-25 railcard will get you extra discounts on an Oyster travelcard.
Popular to contrary belief students do have to eat occasionally, and while we would never advocate eating sub-par food, sometimes there has to be a compromise. Make sure that you take a look at the reduced section whenever you’re in a supermarket, and consider asking the staff when they start reducing things. Many branches will have a certain time when they begin to discount so it’s worth being there to snatch up the goods. In terms of shopping for clothes you can’t get much better than a charity shop, a potential goldmine of hand-me-downs and vintage clothes, assuming your into that sort of thing.
If you cook with flatmates and have meals together, you’ll end up saving money on food by sharing the price of ingredients and you’ll be reducing the amount you waste. Eating regularly with your housemates is also a good time to discuss any house matters that need talking about, so such things like unpaid bills (and then fines) don’t get swept under the rug. It’s also important to learn how to cook properly, relying on takeaways and eating out will not only be terrible for your wallet but will also be bad you’re your health.
Cooking big batches of something is another good way to save money. A lot of the time you get a takeaway because there is no food in the house, and having enough frozen bolognese to feed an army is a good way to avoid this problem.
Be house trained
It’s easy to fall into complacency at uni: ignore a bill or two, let the rent build up, hope someone else to tends to ever growing pile of washing up in the corner.
Although in some way many of these things are bound to happen, it’s important to understand that letting such things go unattended will most likely cost you extra money. Companies and letting agents will slap on late charges for rent, and if your house is left in any kind of mess when you move out then you know for sure that the landlord will charge you as much as they can get away with to get it cleaned.
Watch the heating
Most halls will include bills in the rental so it won’t apply so much to first years, but once you get your own house you will start paying the bills, and having the heating on all the time will come back to bite you. If possible set radiators on timers so they come at times when you need them most, namely the morning when you wake up and the evening when you get back. Having them on mindlessly during the day will waste a lot of money. Get used to wearing a jumper around the house so you don’t have the heating on full blast during the winter months.