You’re buzzing to start at your new uni or college, but maybe managing your own finances is a big change too. Everyone knows the student budget is limited, so we’ve compiled a checklist of easy ways to save in your first year and beyond…
1. Budget budget budget!
*Sigh*, we are most probably just repeating what your mother, your uncle and your neighbour’s dog’s friend has told you, but this is wise advice. It’s not easy, but it’s a skill you will really value both now and in the future. We’d recommend doing the weekly budgeting at first. First, consider how many weeks there are in the term between Week 1 and the Christmas break. Then consider what your incomings will be, and simply divide it by the number of weeks.
Considerations: Freshers week will always be a big money zapper, whether it’s exploring your new city with your mates or numerous nights out. It’s potentially a good idea to set a different budget altogether for it.
2. Sign up to all of the discounts
Unidays, NUS, moneysavingexpert… They’re teeming with great deals for students and you’d be silly to miss out. Also, remember that with your student card, you can flash it at most high street shops and automatically get 10% off – woop woop!
3. Choose your supermarket carefully
There are two elements to this. Firstly, it’s important to remember that branded products you might not be able to live without at uni (looking at you, Heinz ketchup), vary greatly between supermarkets. Using a price comparison checker can save you pennies short-term and pounds long-term. In this category, Which! found that ASDA consistently came out on top. The second element is a warning; as convenient as the micro-version stores are, they hike the prices up compared to the large out-of-town stores.
Read: use the local stores to pick up the essentials but don’t do your big shops there.
4. Cook as a group
It does take some organisation to cook with friends and flatmates, but if you spread the cost out between you, it is much cheaper. Plus, if you take it in turns to cook then you won’t have to come home and do it all yourself every night. If this isn’t a feasible option for you (*cough* vegans), then cooking in bulk is also very thrifty. You simply freeze what you haven’t used and it’s ready to be heated up anytime in the next few weeks.
Tip: best meals for this are – Bolognaise, Shepherd’s Pie and Chilli con Carne.
5. Travel wise…
Most University cities have been optimised for cyclists in recent years, and you should take advantage of that! Taking a car to University is not only expensive, but city driving is inefficient and parking is a nightmare. A bike is fast, reliable and economical. Not about that cycling life? If the bus is your calling, buy a Bus Pass instead of individual day tickets. For example, with the Arriva North West pass (covering Liverpool, Manchester and Chester) the full year Pass works out at £1.24 a day compared with a student day ticket priced at £4.00. You do the maths!
6. Take an air dryer
If you’re staying in halls in first year, it’s very likely you’ll need to use the communal laundrette for your washing. Sadly, this comes at a price (and a fairly big one, too). If you can pay for your washing cycles but avoid having to pay again for the tumble dryer, it will make a difference. Plus, having washing hung up in your room is like a free air freshener – yay!
Note: ensure you leave the room well ventilated when drying out clothes on a rack as it can lead to problems with damp if you don’t.
7. Take out student content insurance
Ideally, you would never break or lose or get anything stolen, but accidents happen. I’ve included this on the list because I spilt a whole cup of tea on my laptop last week and let’s just say this article is definitely not being typed on that laptop any time soon and I have a nice bill on my hands for the repair… If that doesn’t teach you the importance of insurance, nothing will. Endsleigh (www.endsleigh.co.uk) are the recommended student insurers by NUS and we’d have to agree they really get it right. They offer a 10% discount with an NUS card, plus they allow you to pay in monthly instalments across the year if you’d rather (with 0% interest!).