Money is definitely a huge issue when it comes to students, especially when they go to university. As if it already wasn’t hard enough having to deal with the major transition from being supervised and looked after to being completely independent and all on your own for the first time in your life, you now have to struggle with your money and learn how to use it efficiently.
For me personally, money was honestly a huge stress for the most part. I did have a part-time job during my time at college but stupid old me didn’t think to plan ahead and save up enough. I had applied for a maintenance loan but even that was going to be directly used to cover my accommodation fees so I wouldn’t even have anything left over to use.
So if you are currently at university or will be applying in the future and need some advice and tips on how to handle your money, then these are my top tips!
1. Apply to Santander Banking
If you haven’t applied for a student bank account yet, then I would highly recommend applying to Santander. This is specifically because they offer a free 4-year Student Railcard (for 16-25 year old’s). This railcard gives you 1/3 off the usual rail fares for your journeys and it really does help you save money in the long run. This is especially useful if you want to visit home once in a while and you do not have a car, but also if you want to travel to other cities during your time at university or even during the holidays.
2. Apply for Supermarket Loyalty Cards
I am currently signed up to Tesco’s clubcard scheme and it really is so simple to use. Most major supermarkets will have them so whichever supermarket you shop at the most, make sure you apply for their cards and every time you make a purchase, just scan your card and it will give you points. You can then use those points and redeem them for vouchers which will allow you to buy products for less.
Yes, it will take a while to gather up those points but if it’s free to do, you’re not really losing out on anything, so it’s definitely a win-win situation.
An important note – when shopping at supermarkets, try to go for the cheaper options like Aldi or Lidl to buy your basic items. You can always shop at the better quality stores specifically for certain items like meat or branded products. Don’t be shy to use the store quality brands either! There are some products where you can definitely notice the difference in tastes from the popular brands but try to buy them once or twice to find the products where differences are hardly noticeable.
3. Make your own meals, and avoid takeaways!
Personally, I do believe that this is the most important and biggest thing that you can do to save up money. Takeaways just use up so much of your money and I’ve noticed that sometimes I usually end up spending £15 on takeaway food for just one day but my usual weekly grocery shopping budget is only £25!
Do your own shopping weekly or every two weeks, but do try to avoid going everyday! Plan ahead and make sure that you know exactly what recipes you want to make each day for 1 week and write down all the things that you will need. This way, you will only be buying exactly what you need and nothing extra.
As a student, you can really start to experiment and try different things so be very open to different ingredients and recipes that you may not usually have. You are cooking for yourself so there’s no pressure! Not only does this open up your mindset and allow you to experience new types of foods, but it also opens you up to cheaper ingredients that you could use for your meals.
You can also use batch cooking to your advantage. This is where you cook a recipe in a very large quantity and then divide it up into meal size portions, usually in Ziploc bags. These are then kept in the freezer with the date written on them (to make sure they are not consumed past a certain date). Whenever there are those days where you don’t feel like cooking, you can grab a ziploc bag out of the freezer, reheat it in the oven and eat straight away! Much cheaper than buying pre-cooked frozen meals from the supermarket so it saves you a ton of money.
If you are in shared accommodation and are quite close with your flat/housemates, why not have some days where you guys cook together and make one big meal to share? This can become a fun activity and can gradually grow into a tradition, and it helps you all to save money as you can divide up the costs. This can also be applied to other situations where you can buy in bulk to help cut costs in the long run; such as sharing essentials like milk, bread, sugar, salt, toilet paper, etc.
4. Avoid unnecessary spending
This one seems obvious but you don’t really realise how many things you waste your money on, and this does depend on you looking at every little thing that is taking money out of your account that is not a necessity. Rent, grocery shopping and study books are all necessities so these are fine.
However, is it really important for you to go to the cinema with your friends? Or to a restaurant or for a night out? It might seem necessary to allow you to socialize but these activities just suck the money right out of your bank and they really do add up in the end. Why not watch a movie at home on Netflix instead, or have a flat party!
Instead of paying for that expensive gym membership, just go for jogs in the morning or even join societies that do yoga or dance to keep you active.
For me, I used to have a Spotify account but I have now completed my contract and have decided not to renew it. Although it seems little at first – just £4.99 a month, it adds up to almost £60 per year which now seems like a lot.
I have also cancelled my mobile phone monthly contract and will now go on a much cheaper one that only gives me what is really needed, which is just a little bit of data and much less calling time. This can seem stupid at first but most places now offer free wi-fi and I don’t really use my mobile data often unless I’m alone doing nothing in a public place.
You can also buy second-hand books instead of completely new ones. Also, make sure that you sell them again to new students once you have completed your first year as you will no longer need them.
So there it is! These are my main tips for helping you to save money whilst at university and the ones that have helped me the most as well. There are plenty more little things that you can do here and there so if you have any other ideas then feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear them!
Until next time, thank you for reading ♥