As I said in my last university post I am hoping to do kind of a little series of advice and talks about my experiences from my first year that will hopefully help any of you who are also on your way to start soon.
Money is a big thing at university, as I’m sure you’re fully aware. Loans, grants, bursaries and scholarships; there is a lot of money going into your education and your time and it can feel a little scary sometimes. I’m sure that you’ve heard countless of times before the importance of budgeting and looking after your money throughout university as you don’t really have a lot. But if you balance everything properly and are sensible you will be surprised by how far your money can stretch. You won’t have to miss out on events and nights out and can still have enough money for text books, food and the occasional shopping spree if you’re clever.
So here are five little tips that are tried and tested by myself that should help make your money go further during your studies:
- Get a Job!
I’m aware how obnoxious this one sounds and I’m sure you’re sick of hearing it but it really does help. I also know how hard it is to get a job (trust me!) but if you can get one you might as well. The money comes in really handy. Depending on the type of place you work in you can often get hours to work around your life. Working throughout summer will provide you with some extra cash but also more free time once you go to university. Weekend work means you have less free time but you won’t have to worry about money. I am currently in an agreement with my workplace that allows me to work only when I come home for holidays and breaks. I’m aware that this is not an option for a lot of workplaces but you will be able to work around your hours regardless.
- Apply For Everything
When you apply to go to university you also (in most cases) have to apply for various kinds of loans to help pay for your course, your accommodation and overall just living costs. But as well as loans there are so many other ways you can receive money to help you out, some of which you will never have to pay back (currently anyway). The best thing to do is apply for everything early to ensure that you are able to get everything you need as well as saving yourself a lot of stress later on. Do your research when applying and look into your chosen university as many offer scholarships and bursaries that give you a certain amount of money. Similarly look into the benefits your university offers as you can also receive money for things such as your grades. Just do your research and apply for everything you find because at the end of the day, there’s nothing to lose.
- Save, Save, Save!
This one can go hand in hand with the other two points in this list so far as any wages you receive, any sums of money you get from scholarships or whatever put away in a separate savings account. Obviously make sure that you have enough to live on and to keep you going for however long you need it, but whatever you can put away you should. Because that means no matter what happens, if you suddenly run out of money or desperately need some extra cash, you have an extra support system. It’s nice to have just for peace of mind really but will also be really helpful when you come to the end of your course, as you will no longer have grants and things to help you out. But if you save you should have a sum of money to help you out whenever you need it.
- Shop Around & Discount
You might be a bit embarrassed now about shopping in places like Poundland or Aldi but trust me none of that matters once you start looking after your own money. These places are a life saver! In terms of food shopping, it really does pay to shop around the supermarkets and see what the best deal is. There is no point wasting a ridiculous amount of money on your weekly shop when you could have got it cheaper elsewhere. And stores like the pound shops are brilliant for any other bits you need, such as cleaning tools, toiletries, etc. It doesn’t matter about labels and things once you’re living on your own. All that counts is that you get what you need for the best price!
This one is a fun but might not apply to everyone. Once you go to university there will be nights out and various events where alcohol and drinking are involved. Now if you don’t drink, this one doesn’t really work for you but that doesn’t really matter as you will be saving more money than the rest anyway! But if you do drink or think you will once you get there the best thing to do is to pre-drink at home first. Whether that means in your own flat with your flatmates or at a party at someone else’s place it doesn’t matter. Play some drinking games, put some music on and get yourself in the mood for a good night out. The more you drink at home the less you have to buy when you’re out. Most people I know choose to get to whatever level of tipsy they need at home and then don’t spend any money on drinks when they’re out!* Its good fun and a good way to save your cash as things can get pricey depending on where you go.
I hope this tips help and if you have advice for new or current students feel free to share and let us all know.
Once again good luck to any Freshers coming up to their first semester and congratulations!
*Okay now I have to say this but I am not encouraging unsafe or damaging behaviour such as binge or excessive drinking. You know your limits and the legal limits and shouldn’t go past this. Enjoy yourself but stay safe and make sure you stick together and look out for everyone in your group too.