You’re enjoying the independence, the freedom, but that minus symbol is staring, encouraging you to progress deeper into your overdraft. This is enough for some to turn around, pack their bags and return to pre-Uni life, while others will crawl through the remaining years on ‘little’ and ‘rare’ top-ups from parents, friends or partners.
Thankfully, I’ve devised ten money saving tips that I lived by through University; if you play your cards right, maybe you’ll also save £50-200 a month without too much sacrifice!
Get down to the thrift shop
Macklemore was actually sending a personal message to encourage visits to local charity shops. Believe it or not, charity shops can hold a diamond if you’re there at the right time. Not to mention, my very little fashion knowledge tells me vintage is ‘in’ right now, maybe you’ll find just that without having to pay extortionate prices just because it’s sold in a specific shop.
Put your love affair with alcohol on hold
This is by far the biggest threat to your bank. Students will spend between £10-50 a night, which is even worse during Freshers Week. My advice? Don’t feel pressured into going out every night.
Around £300 evaporated from my account during Freshers, I was then forced to reduce my social drinking to ‘special occasions’, I still made plenty of friends, enjoyed myself and dodged numerous hangovers, it’s not as bad as you think!
Bills, bills, bills!
If your bills aren’t inclusive, make sure both you and your housemates only use heating as a last resort. Cold? Put on a hoodie. Is anyone using the room I’m leaving? Turn the light off. The second we established these very logical actions, we all saved an alarming amount of money.
Goodbye to the brands
Forget about those brands you champion. Unfamiliar cleaning products, electrical goods and food can often be better than the brands you love. Begin favouring the cheaper alternatives and quickly notice a difference.
Complete your regular shop, take note of each branded product and the next time around, buy the cheaper alternatives of exactly the same product. You’ll notice a saving between 15-30%, you can’t argue with that!
Sharing is caring
Toilet roll, milk and washing-up liquid are made to be shared. Only buy these products for yourself if you have a housemate (there’s always one), that doesn’t quite understand the concept of sharing, but even then, a stern finger wag may resolve the issue.
Do you REALLY need all of those course books?
This is, of course, entirely dependent on your subject. Make sure you check with your lecturers, as there are some cases where you definitely should obtain your own copy. However, in more than one lecture I was told to buy over five books, only two were needed.
You’d be surprised how much of your course content is available online; combining previews on Google Books and Amazon probably saved me a good £100 throughout my three years.
Be efficient with your laundry
Forget the pants and socks washes, throw it all in one or not at all. Laundry in University halls especially is notoriously expensive. If you have more than two pairs of socks, you don’t need to do a wash yet. Let everything collate and do it in one… oh, and don’t even think about using the drier.
Failing that, if your parents or relatives have a washing machine, there’s no shame in schmoozing your way into using theirs.
Take away the takeaways
Whatever you do, do not develop a habit of this. I was guilty of ordering takeaway pizza frequently during the initial months, an extra couple of quid to go large wasn’t a problem at the time, how wrong I was.
Go to the supermarket, buy an own-brand pizza. If you can resist the delivery temptations, it’s quicker and you’ll save yourself £10-15 every time.
Avoid the University cafeteria
If you crave a cup of tea or coffee for the rare 9AM start, invest in a Thermos flask; £2.50 for coffee, three days a week, that’s £30 down the drain every month. With the cafeteria comes temptation to buy something to accompany your beverage, don’t be surprised if a sausage bap sneaks into your mouth while you’re there.
Assuming you don’t kick this habit, your cash will slowly whittle away without you really noticing, making this one of most mischievous money sinks.
“Do you do student discount?”
Make this your go-to phrase in every shop, there are plenty of establishments offering student discount that don’t advertise it. In fact, if you see a student discount offer outside of a shop, they’re most likely hoping you’ll cripple to the ‘low prices’.
Keep your student card with you at all times and download UNiDAYS, make the most of it!
There you have it, following these tips paid for a week in Greece and a long weekend in Paris to celebrate graduation.
You don’t need to do them all, but baby steps will go a long way.
Get a temporary job, heed my advice, reap the rewards.
Written by Chris Johnson