Although many picture students as party animals who waste their student loan away on vodka, night-clubs and takeaways, for many, this image is so far from the truth. Being at university can be a testing time in many ways; educationally, emotionally and financially. While I've already given advice on how to get through your first year, students will know that hardships of any sort do not end when you move out of halls and fly the campus nest. This post will hopefully help give a little advice on how to make the most of your student loan, and little ways you can save yourself some dosh. I've been there and done that, so here is what I have learnt along the way.
Always, Always, Pre-Drink.
Obviously, not to excess, but having a few drinks at your house (or a friends') before heading off for a night out will save you so much money. Some places have amazing student drinks deals, especially midweek, but regardless, it'll still be cheaper to drink at home before hitting da klerbs. I always make sure I budget £10-15 for when I'm actually out (this covers entry fee and drinks in the club), but usually come home with change. I'm not saying get bladdered before you go out (one, that's a pretty poor attitude, and two, you probably won't be let into the club anyway), but staying in instead of hitting the bars and clubs will save you a decent amount.
Don't Buy Course Books!
Before you start uni, you get sent a list of all the recommended reading and course books. Naturally, you panic and think you have to buy all of these because THE UNI TOLD YOU TO. This isn't true. If you like having your own copy and making notes in the books, by all means, get your own. Books are usually available second-hand from previous students, so always look around before buying them brand new. The cheapest alternative is don't buy them at all! If they are compulsory course books, doubtless your university library will stock plenty of copies, so just nab one quick and renew as many times as you need. Wait until you've been to your classes...you could end up making a deal and sharing a copy with a fellow student.
Find A Private Landlord
This may be more Brighton-specific (as this is the only place I have experience renting in), but most people will know that letting agents are just THE WORST HUMANS IN THE WORLD. I have had such a bad experience with a certain letting agency down Lewes Road (two words, both begin with P) and they literally suck all the money and life out of you. It does make me wonder if they are all in contact with the devil, because it seems they have no good intentions whatsoever. They will bleed overpriced agency fees from you, and probably screw you over when you go to move out...charging you for every stupid thing. If you do go with an agency, be aware of this, take photos of every tiny mark and fault in your house (making sure the photo is dated for evidence) and just prepare to fight for your £500-odd per person deposit back. Private landlords are so much cheaper, less hassle and tackle any household issues themselves, so there's no miscommunication and waiting for weeks for a reply.
|Letting agents will call this 'premium living conditions'. Yes, that is mould.|
One thing that will save you so much money is cooking in batches. I always forget to do this, but my housemate is amazing at keeping to this. Yes, you do end up eating the same things over and over, but it's a cheap and efficient way of planning your meals and budgeting. Cook up a huge meal for a fiver, freeze up the portions, and most of your meals will cost you less than £1....just keep track of what you have and how long they've been in the freezer for!
Living near a supermarket, one of our favourite things to do used to be dashing into the store around the time stock got reduced for that day. While this isn't great for most products, stocking up on dirt-cheap bread and meat is a great money-saving idea. Just freeze your purchases as soon as you get home and you've saved yourself some pennies! I always freeze bread as I don't eat it that often and find a loaf usually goes moudly by the time I'm only half-way through it. Getting the slices out of the freezer whenever I need them has saved me so much money (and mould!).
Be Energy Efficient!
This goes without saying, but switch off lights and appliances whenever you're not using them, leave the oven door open (switched off) after using to help heat your home, and be careful when it comes to heating costs when you move into your own accomodation. Heating is the big cost for most students....both years the heating hasn't worked properly in my room so I've had to deal with arctic temperatures for two winters now- it teaches you a lot about cheap ways to keep warm! I survive off hot water bottles, dressing gowns and jumpers during winter...yes, have the heating on, but you don't need it on incredibly high when you can find cheap ways to warm up!
Railcards/ NUS Cards/ Supermarket Cards
Getting a 16-25 railcard was one of the best decisions I've ever made. In second year I travelled home quite a lot (due to me hating my house and family illnesses), and having a railcard saved me so much money. If you're not going to travel a lot, it probably isn't worth getting as it does cost £30, but you can save 1/3 off rail prices. I could travel from Brighton to London for £3.30! If you get the train regularly, this will end up saving you loads. Same for an NUS card; so many stored take this for student discount (most offering 10%, but some even more!). Getting a points card for your local supermarket is a must...you're going to be buying your weekly shop from there anyway, so why not start earning some money back?!
I hope this post has helped any graduates, students, or prospective students! What are your best money-saving tips?