Most students have to keep a close eye on their budget as there is often little time for part time jobbing during busy semester weeks. Thus, the majority of students have to rely on limited financial resources to cover all costs that come up during a month. This applies to first year students, postgraduates, and even PhD candidates who’re not on a scholarship or have no paid position at their department. Hence, students of all “academic stages” are well familiar with the financial burdens of “uni life”.
Expenses for rents, bills, food, books but also “socialising” and hobbies like sports or movies can easily add up to quite an amount of money. And as many of you might know: Finding the right balance between all of these cost-intensive aspects can get pretty difficult. Student life often involves many compromises.
However, there are a few tricks that will help you to get the most of you university experience –without you ending up on a diet on canned peas and tab water.
Cook for Yourself and Learn How to Stock up
Aside from monthly costs for housing, you will spend a major part of your budget on food. After all, that brain of yours needs a lot of fuel to be at its best during classes and exams. The trick is to keep a healthy diet and still have enough coins in your pocket after a trip to your local supermarket or grocery store.
Resourceful planning is the key to success. Try to make a list of how much money you need each week for food and drinking. What do you usually eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between? Are you cooking yourself or do regularly dine out? Getting an overview will give you an idea of your expenses for food.
When you head out to do your shopping, keep a lookout for bargains. Many shops and supermarkets offer various reduction as well as special offers. You can often get more of your favourite soft drink or cereals for less money. Bargains on canned food, noodles, rice etc. are also a good opportunity for stockpiling some basics.
Saving money on groceries does not have to result in an unhealthy diet. Fresh vegetables and fruits are among the most inexpensive foods in the supermarket. The bottom line is: You do not have to dine on canned spaghetti, ready-made burgers, and cheap chips in order to keep your budget in check!
Choose to cook at home more often. You can save quite a bit if you do the chopping and frying yourself. You’re lacking inspiration? There’s the Internet with vast amounts of tips and recipes for healthy and tasty food. Many traditional recipes will give you a maximum in taste and nutrition for a reasonable amount of money. If you live in a shared house, try to find out if your roommates have similar tastes as yours. You can cook together and share not only the costs but also the work. It can be real fun and turn into a new social experience – especially when you have flatmates from a different country or two (or three).
Take Advantage of Student Reductions
As a student you’re entitled to a range of special discounts for various products and services. For example, if you do a lot of travelling by train you should definitely consider acquiring a student railcard. With this you’ll be able to save 1/3 on tickets throughout the UK.
If you’re looking for a new laptop or desktop computer, you can also benefit from student reductions. Many major brands, like Apple or Dell offer special discounts on their products when you can prove that you’re a student. This might save you up to 15% from the original price. Just make sure you have all the necessary documents ready (e.g. certificate of enrolment) before purchasing something.
There are countless other companies that offer student discounts on their products. A good starting point is the National Union of Students (NUS) website. Here you can apply for an official NUS extra card that opens the way for over 40.000.000 discounts.
Look for “Smart” Solutions
There are many tricks to save a little money. Example: Let’s say it’s Friday and you would like to have a great night out with some friends –but your budget’s a little tight for having rounds at the pub or club. Then why not having your drinks at home before diving into the night? This might save you a few quid and still allow you to have a good time. Some “creativity” can open ways to more cost-effective solutions in various everyday situations.
Earn something Extra
Even if they’re busy with lectures, assignments, and exams, many students try to secure some sort of extra income. A good starting point is your student union’s website. It should have regularly updated job listings. Alternatively, there are various specialised websites that provide up-to-date databases on the latest vacancies for students. Companies look for student workers especially during the summer break.
Beware: The job advertisement should make clear that it is a paid position and not an unpaid internship. And make sure that your new job will not impede your studies and keep you from meeting deadlines at university. After all, they are thought to be a part-time occupation.
Keep an Eye on Your Expenses
Keeping an eye on your expenses and maintaining a balanced budget are the best way to avoid “hard times”. You don’t have to live in Spartan self-restriction in order to achieve this. Just check that you’re really picking the most cost-effective choice from the many options you have. All it takes is some foresighted planning.
(Image courtesy of Marcus / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)