Starting life at university is a big change in many ways, not least in having to take greater responsibilities over finances. Students go from having tens of pounds in pocket money to thousands of pounds in student grants and loans.
So here’s ten tips for how to manage and save money while at uni:
Set a budget – organising and managing a budget doesn’t fill anyone with excitement but it can be really helpful, especially for breaking down your initial lump sum of student loan into manageable chunks. Make a note of your income for the term and the main bills you will have to pay before setting a rough amount for what you can spend each week. Go on the free CAP Money Course, or if there’s not one in your area The Student Calculator is a great resource for taking you through this process.
Leave the card at home – consider taking out a certain amount of cash for the week and only using that. When using a card all the time it can be easy to lose track of how much you’ve spent; when you’re out of cash, you’re out of cash.
Walk or cycle where possible – while saving money (and the environment), there’s nothing like a nice cycle to perk you up for a 9am lecture!
Grab the discounts – everyone loves a bargain and if you’re a student, you now have a whole world of offers open to you! An NUS extra card (National Union of Students) costs £12 for the year and gives you discounts on everything from food shopping (10% off at the Co-operative) to entertainment (25% off the student price at ODEON cinemas). On top of that, these websites are full of deals: studentmoneysaver.co.uk; studentbeans.com
Prepare your own food – one of the best things about university is having the time to meet up for coffee with friends or to go out for lunch after classes. However the cost of this adds up quickly; make a habit of taking your own lunch onto campus so you’re not tempted!
Don’t food shop on an empty stomach – it’s the classic bit of advice from mum, but definitely worth following. You’ll spend less time salivating in the bakery aisle and instead get on with buying what you need. Make sure you make a list beforehand too!
Freeze food! Freezers are fantastic; you can stock up on items from the reduced section, or cook something in bulk and keep it for another time.
Buy a 16-25 railcard – saving you 30% off train travel this is a worthwhile investment. Although costing £30 up front, you will save more than this even from only buying a return ticket home at the end of each term.
Have a spare change jar – if you collect enough of those loose pennies you can turn them into nice new notes at the bank.
Check out grants and bursaries available via your university. There are lots out there and this can start before you get to uni; teachers at school may be able to recommend you to local educational charities, and even the Vegetarian Society offers grants of up to £500 for committed vegetarians and vegans!
Visit capmoneycourse.org to find a CAP Money Course for students near you and get to grips with creating and juggling your budget whilst at university.