As a student you are notoriously bound to be blighted with the ‘poor’ tagline, as well as having multiple conversations with other students stemming from the fact you have no money. If we’re honest, we are all susceptible of lacklustre money management from time to time. However there are ways to ensure that as a student your money goes as far as it can each month. There is no worse feeling than the realisation that you can’t partake in a social activity because you failed to manage your money in the most effective way.
Fortunately for you, we are here to help with a few pointers that will turn those leftover pennies into pounds.
We know it’s boring, but it really doesn’t have to take much time. Create an Excel spread sheet, use a mobile phone app or this free interactive Student Calculator tool to help you calculate your monthly outgoings and incomings. It will help you keep track of where your money is heading, and how to cut costs. Make sure you factor in every detail from rent payments and haircuts, through to birthday presents and magazine subscriptions. It all adds up at the end of the month.
Finance your food
There are endless methods you can undertake to ensure you’re not eating a tin of yesteryear’s baked beans for every meal at the end of term. Cooking as a unit will severely reduce expenditure across the board. Involving two, three or even four flatmates not only makes your final expenditure cheaper, but can share the load of cooking, making it a fun task and not the chore we know it can be at times.
Buying value products and supermarket own brand also cuts your costs, while the products are virtually the same. It is not necessary if you don’t have the money to overspend on items such as tortilla chips when there is a cheaper, similar substitute.
Buy in bulk. If you see a pack of pasta even a rugby team couldn’t carry, it’s going to be the cheapest alternative. Buying your staples in bulk saves you a bundle along the way, as well as limiting the number of times you have to visit your local supermarket. You don’t want to be one of those students glued to the aisles of their local Nisa, Londis or Aldi every night, deciding whether to buy penne or cannelloni for that evening’s interesting culinary concoction. And if you are stuck for ideas on what to cook, here are 7 recipes for tasty meals that you can cook for 50p.
Be prepared for bills
It is fair to say the day your student loan comes in can be compared to the scene in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator where Maximus Decimus Meridius walks into the coliseum to much jubilation and euphoria. Don’t be too hasty with this influx of money, however, as you may be caught short at the end of term. Ensure you set aside the necessary funds to pay your rent and bills before you organise a shopping trip or embarking on a local fine dining experience to Nando’s. While you won’t have to pay council tax if you live in a household where all of you are students, you will need to pay for a colour TV licence, which is £145.50 for a year. However, at the end of the academic year, if you’re not going to use it anymore, make sure that you claim for a refund on the three months left on your licence.
Don’t buy new books
Believe it or not, new isn’t always the best…..Well, not in terms of price anyway. Some university courses will release a recommended reading list either before term starts or in your first couple of weeks. Resist the urge to run out and buy a collection of freshly-printed new books! (We know how excitable all students get over book shopping.) Countless numbers of students will be looking to sell their old (but perfectly appropriate) books for a reduced price. Websites such as I Swap Books and Uni Book Swap are also a good starting point for purchasing second hand material.
Whether you’re looking for a little extra cash to ease those concerns over paying bills, or you want to indulge yourself and purchase Rock Band for you and your housemates, a part-time job is a sure way to receive a steady income. Not only this, but it can help to give you a variation from your standard university life while helping you to become a more rounded, dependable individual when you inevitably apply for a spring or summer internship, or a graduate job. Be careful not to exceed 15 hours a week though – you don’t want it to distract you too much from your studies/ extra-curricular activities. It’s also important to remember that if you end up earning less than £10,000 in a year, you shouldn’t pay any tax. However, as you will be paid through the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) scheme you will probably need to reclaim it at the end of the year. Visit the HMRC website to find out if you’re entitled to a refund.
NUS extra card
Purchasing a 1 year NUS extra card for only £12 will really save you costs over a variety of items. All that is required is that you are over the age of 16 and in part/full time education. With an NUS card you can receive over 200 exclusive discounts across Fashion, Mobile, Food and drink, as well as a wide range of other fields. Two and three year cards are also available for £22 and £32 respectively.
If you’re planning on travelling home during or at the end of term, or maybe even visiting a school friend at a different university, don’t overspend on travel fees. Purchase a 16-25 railcard at only £30 for one year or £70 for three years. This entitles you to 1/3 off all journeys easily saving you money after only a few journeys. Another good tip is instead of buying tickets for the whole journey, buy separate tickets for its constituent parts. This can decrease the price even though you’re on exactly the same train, making the same journey. Download the TicketySplit Lite iPhone app or bookmark the TicketySplit mobile site to find the right train combinations. Alternatively check out Megabus for buses costing as little as £1 plus a 50p booking fee. With prices like these, UK travel has never been easier.
Financially university is tough! Hopefully the preceding seven strategies will enable you to ease some of those money woes, and allow you to have an enjoyable university experience without money anxieties slowing you down. Managing your money at university effectively will stand you in good stead for your post-uni experiences, where you will undoubtedly pursue that illustrious graduate job.