Money saving tips for students
Money saving tips to help stretch your student loan, written by students for students…
Course fees, accommodation fees, food costs, those cheeky nights out, your course books, they all add up to hefty amounts and particularly in your first year when you may not be used to budgeting, this can leave you in a little bit of difficulty. Here are some of the most useful tips for money saving as a student, learned the hard way so you can learn the easy way!
Write a budget plan and stick to this! Yes, this does appear in every single guide to saving money for students, but it’s for a good reason! At the very beginning of the year/term/semester etc write down your total income for that period of time. Take off the costs of your accommodation, how much you expect to spend on essentials such as food and course materials and you will be left with an amount you know you can spend on whatever you want. It’s useful to know what you have left over in order to prevent you overspending on things that are not essential and therefore preventing financial hardships in the future!
Students can get a lot of discount, use it! Buy the student railcard, get your NUS Extra Card, shop at your Student Union, and ask everywhere you shop if they do any sort of student discount before you buy. Student discount tends to be amounts such as 10%, seemingly small, but all these 10%’s actually add up eventually.
Don’t buy things you can get for free. Example: Music. No, I am not condoning illegal methods of obtaining music; there are plenty of ways to get music for free legally. Sign up for a Last.fm account, get Spotify, use Myspace. These are all great providers of free music and they’re all legal! Another example is water. Instead of buying bottled water, fill up old Coke bottles etc with tap water instead. This gets bonus points because it’s good for the environment too!
Get a job! Okay, this is going to be a highly unappealing idea to many, particularly those who would like extra time to study or would like to visit home frequently. However, if you can bear it, do try and find a part time job. Your loan should be enough to cover at least accommodation costs, so thing of all the pretty little extras and good nights out you could have with your wages!
Don’t knock supermarkets’ own brand! 99% of the time, a Supermarket’s own brand of crisp/pasta sauce/bread etc tastes just as good as a more well-known brand would. 99% of the time, a supermarket’s own brand is a lot cheaper. You see what I’m saying? Don’t be picky.
Meat eater? Get bigger cuts of meat from local shops. As a student, a lot of the time you may only be cooking for yourself rather than a lot of people, which means buying four chicken breasts when you only need one is pretty pointless. Visit your local butcher and purchase a single (and quite a lot of the time, better quality) chicken breast. The same goes for vegetables, don’t buy a multipack of peppers which you will just go rotten in the fridge when you can get singular ones from a greengrocer. These are likely to be tastier and fresher than packaged supermarket ones too!
Learn to cook. I am being serious, this will save you money. Order a takeaway one night, then the next night cook the same thing. Which is cheaper? Yeah, you guessed it, the one you cooked yourself. I know it’s nice to be lazy and have a good takeaway once in a while, but the ability to cook is a handy ability indeed, especially when living on a budget. Also consider making meals in bulk to last you a few days – a large veggie curry can be put in tupperware, frozen and re-heated when you’re simply too tired to cook and an urge for an expensive takeaway is looming.
Look at your bad habits and give them up or learn how to make them stretch a little further.Habits such as smoking are very, very costly to the point where quitting could save enough to buy twice the food you would normally buy or something similar. If quitting really is too difficult, at least try to cut down, or switching (in the case of cigarettes) from standard pre-rolled brands to rolling your own. If you’re fond of red wine, a cheaper wine can be made tasty by the application of water – make your glass of red wine a quarter water. It will look the same colour and taste smoother and better – and make the wine stretch further. This is how the ancient Greeks used to drink their red wine, so you’ll be in good company. You never know, the money you save from cutting down may motivate you to quit entirely. This benefits your health as well as your wallet.
One way to save money is… ah… to curl foetally around it and sleep on it. And never spend it. Probably not a good way to make money, though. And people might think you’re a dragon-in-training-wannabe. Don’t hoard your money! Don’t actually sleep on it! Just spend it wisely…