Highschool, college or university. No matter what kind of student you are, money is always an issue, whether you are sixteen and cannot afford your first date, or a Fresher at university saving up for a train journey home.
It has to be said, university students are particularly hard done by. According to a recent study by Voucherbox, some degrees work out as just under £30 an hour. Crazy when some arts and humanities degrees only get about 8 contacts hours per week! Not only do you have to look forward to the endless years of paying off your £30,000 student loan, but you have to try and budget for everyday living. Yes, students, you do have to do your own cooking, shopping and cleaning! Of course, within all that, you want to enjoy yourself, otherwise what is the point of paying to go to university in the first place? It is definitely not to be sat bored stiff in your room the whole time for fear of spending any money.
So, if you are afraid of spending too much money, or on the other extreme, do not care if you do, here are some super tips for saving as much as possible, whilst still getting the most out of your student life.
One of the first things students do even before going to university is set up a student bank account, the most important thing being finding the best rates for your money. Most young people are drawn into incentives that are offered with the accounts and end up choosing poorly because they want a £60 Amazon voucher! If you do want a freebie along with your account, make sure you know what you are getting. Some banks such as Santander and NatWest offer free rail and coach cards, which really benefit you as a student when visiting friends around the country. Of course, even if the rates and freebies are ideal for you, still make sure, as the NUS says, that the bank has a good reputation and can be conveniently reached.
Believe it or not, a lot of student money goes towards food, in addition to alcohol. Whether it is a build-up of after clubbing McDonald’s trips, or a midweek pizza delivery, students are not always the wisest when it comes to their foodie purchases. Laziness, simple lack of cooking knowledge or buying above your price range can all contribute to a load of cash going down the food plughole. Here is how you can avoid it though:
- No more spending at where the parents shop. Whilst at home, you may have been used to Mum’s weekly Waitrose shop and fine home cooking. Sadly, living as a student means no more Marks and Spencers meal deals, but Aldi bulk buys. Do not be put off by the budget supermarkets, they are perfect for students.
- Be organised, you will only thank yourself. Although having cooking several big batch meals at the weekend may seem tedious, you will see the benefit in the week when you arrive back starving after a 5 o’clock lecture. Planning meals in advance brings ease and speed, when all you need to do is microwave the portion you took out of the freezer the night before! Cooking meals in bulk is also cheaper.
- Keep it simple – cooking your own meals does not mean you have to turn into a gourmet chef. Pasta, noodles and couscous all provide quick cooking bases to any dish.
OK, perhaps this part is not for those of you who love your wild nights out with fellow students, but looking for accommodation that is not specifically for students can be a clever way to save some dosh! Houses with young professionals can be a great start for those of you who want to live near uni, but do not want the noise of student halls or houses. As your housemates will be working full time, it is a great opportunity to share the rent and get some peace and quiet! Alternatively, living at home and commuting is an option if you live within a train or bus journey from your university. That way, you do not have to pay for any accommodation and still can come home to Mum’s cooking and “use” her laundry skills!
At the end of the day, no matter whether you live at home, rented houses or student halls, there are so many ways to save your money, but still have a fulfilling student experience. Let’s face it, going out clubbing every night is not essential, a night in with friends with pre-prepared food can be just as enjoyable!