Fresher’s week has arrived. But before donning your party hat, make some money saving mantras with these tips for students, giving you a first class degree in personal finance.
Focus on the end game
I heard a Professor at a leading University recently say “University is but a moment in a wider sense of experiences”. Coming out as close to debt free as possible will allow you to enjoy those experiences so much more. Look for ways to make money saving fun; you can still have an amazing time on a budget.
Use a budget planner and try to beat your predicted prices in each sector.
Aside from fees and accommodation, food takes a large chunk of your budget. Always shop on a full stomach – bills tend to rise by around 20% when hungry. Go to the supermarket with newly found friends, making savings on multi-purchases and buying economy labels. Think of extra ways to save, such as buying items from the reduced section at the end of the day. Try Internet shopping between you; taking advantage of vouchers offering discounts on your first purchase, then friends can log their details next time. Also bulk cook, freezing the excess for meals at a later date.
Clothes can eat away your finances; charity shops can offer some nice bargains for your wardrobe, especially if you go to ones in wealthier parts of town.
In all areas of your budget look for similar ways to save, making sure you take advantage of every voucher code and discount available, but only purchasing what you need.
The NUS extra card offers bundles of savings; from Amazon to Zizzi and even a 16-25 Railcard offering up to 1/3 off fares that could prove invaluable, making sure you book tickets in advance for the best savings. Also local shops often offer discounts to students, sometimes you can get a free cut and blow dry modelling for an up and coming hair stylist.
Reading lists can be costly. Check with the tutor what are essential reads. Look to see if you can swap them online or buy them second hand; some Universities offer this as a service. Ex-students may have copies, ones in the year above or if not sites like Amazon marketplace. Digital versions may also be cheaper, can be bought and read immediately and often have the ability to search for ‘key words’, useful for your studies.
Lacking a laptop? Some companies offer student discounts including Dell and Apple. When it comes to desktop publishing, download freeware like openoffice.org.
Buy a second hand bike or find a free one on freecycle.org , avoiding local transport costs and getting fit at the same time. Depending upon where you are staying, sites like Megabus can offer great value on buses and trains for your long distance travel, however many Universities run car sharing services.
Part-time jobs are often available in the campus/bars/union as well as in the local town, however you are competing with hundreds of others descending at the same time so search early. Think out of the box with ideas like cinema ushers and gym receptionists – or even popping a card in a local shop offering your skills as a gardener or ironer. It’s also worth searching twitter, adding in “student jobs” or “student vacancies” plus the city/town. You can earn cash registering for market research groups, online research and mystery shopping, the latter you can sometimes combine earning a bit of cash with a free meal out.
Avoid signing up for every group and society during Fresher’s week. Join at a later date when you know how much time you have and what you really want to invest money in.
Enjoy nights out, but limit them. Drinking sensibly is key, however you are better off having a few back at your digs with supermarket bought booze. When out on the town leave your credit card behind, limiting the cash you bring. If the munchies hit on the way home avoid the expensive Kebab, raiding the fridge for a pre-prepared snack.
Marc Lockley is a personal finance writer for The Guardian and author of How to pay less for more