Starting University can be a daunting thought and filled with financial issues. The following 25 tips can take the edge off any struggles you may have with money; take a look and see if there are any ways you can save precious pounds!
1) Don’t go it alone. If you try and have a completely independent university experience it will undoubtedly end up being more expensive than teaming up with your mates. Living together, shopping together and cooking together will save you money on all basic expenses. And anyway, what’s the fun of coming home from lectures to an empty flat and a ready meal for one? (Even if it does mean you have to put up with other people’s annoying habits.)
2) Buy in bulk. This applies mainly to food, although I suppose if your wardrobe consists exclusively of black t shirts it could work with clothes too. Make a big shopping trip in the first week of term and stock up on the cupboard basics (potatoes, pasta etc.); also keep an eye out for deals on meat and fish. Remember, you don’t have to eat it all before the sell by date if you have a freezer! Also works well with alcohol, share a wine box with a couple of friends rather than all buying individual bottles, the cost per bottle works out much cheaper.
3) Think twice before ordering books. Think carefully about which books you definitely need for your course. If you’re only going to end up reading a couple of chapters why not photo copy these from a library copy instead? Although it is terrible for the environment and shouldn’t become a habit, it can be the case that occasionally it’s cheaper to photocopy a whole book rather than buy it. Just make sure you staple all the pages together and keep them in the right order! Otherwise you’ll end up with hundreds of useless pieces of paper lying around and no money on your photocopying account. Look online for good deals on second hand books, and if you only use pencil for annotations you can usually sell the book at the end of term for a similar price you bought it for!
4) Buy a bike. This is initially a high expense but will save hundreds on bus fares if that’s how you normally travel around!
5) Clothes swap. Get a group of mates together and ask them all to bring a few items from their wardrobe that they don’t want anymore. Swap them for your own unwanted garments and you’ll end up with a new wardrobe for absolutely nothing!
6) Roll your own. Although smoking is a terrible habit, if you have to do it roll your own cigarettes rather than buying straights. Although it takes a bit of time to get used to rolling, you’ll end up saving hundreds of pounds!
7) Complain. If you feel like you’re paying too much on utilities, phone your provider and try and negotiate a better deal. Doesn’t always work but most of the time they’ll be so keen to keep you as a customer that they’ll be able to knock some money off your monthly bill.
9) Remember your student card. Lots of places do student discounts without publicising it, so make sure you always ask.
10) Packed lunch. Eating out at university can chip away at your funds even if you’re just having a cheap sandwich in the uni café. Make your own instead!
11) Make your own takeaways. Takeaways are very expensive for what they are so think twice next time you go to pick up the phone to the local pizza place. Making your own pizza or curry is fun, cheap and much healthier!
12) Night bus rather than taxi. Make sure you know your local bus routes and timetable from the city centre to your student house; you’ll save a lot on late night taxis!
13) Budget! Give yourself a strict budget every week with certain money set aside for food, going out, bills etc. It will help keep track of your expenses and will be a way of checking yourself before you agree for a fifth night down the pub in a row.
14) Don’t drive. Insurance, MOTs and parking permits all add up so think carefully about whether you really need a car at uni. It will make you more active as well!
15) Exercise for free. Although you may start the year with great intentions, long term gym contracts are a huge expense for a service you might end up rarely using. Organise to jog round the park with some friends or research university exercise classes.
16) Drink at home, not in bars. Get a group of friends together in your house rather than at the local pub before a night out. You’ll save loads by buying your own alcohol from a shop and anyway you can be much more raucous within the confines of your own home!
17) Invest in a ‘keep cup’. If you get your coffee in your own flask you’ll get a discount, plus it’s great for the environment!
18) Make your own presents. Rather than forking out on something impersonal for your friends’ birthdays why not make something homemade instead? Photo collages always go down a treat, as do baked goods. Or take up knitting and give out scarves for every present!
19) Charity shops. If you’re desperate for some new clothes but are completely broke, check out the charity shops for some great deals. Some of the stuff is nearly new and is still in fashion, and the rest you can just pass off as vintage!
20) Orange Wednesday. Take advantage of Orange Wednesdays at cinemas across the country. Two for one tickets and meals will literally half the cost of your night.
21) Skype. This free service is particularly good if you have friends who are studying abroad, you’ll save loads on phone bills! Plus, you can see them while you’re chatting (and feel very jealous of their great tan while you’re shivering and pale).
22) Shop around. Research carefully before signing up for gas, electricity and phone contracts. Make sure you’re getting the best possible deal for your situation.
23) Coupons. Lots of supermarkets have online coupons which you can print off and take in store to get some great deals!
24) Read online. If your course has a heavy reading load, think again before printing off another thirty page article. Most academic journals can be accessed online, so make notes from this and include page numbers. This way you can easily find the appropriate part of the article if you’re revising.
25) Get a job! Sounds obvious but lots of students don’t pick up on the great opportunity of earning some extra cash in their spare time. Obviously don’t let your studies suffer, but most students can find that extra few hours for a part time job every week and it’s a great way to meet new people outside the university bubble.
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