Top 10 Fresher Ready Tips for Budgeting at University
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Exams passed, coursework ticked and UCAS accepted. You’ve made it to university.
But sadly your school or college hasn’t prepared you for a world of acting-like-a-millionaire weekends; dusty back-of-the-cupboard tinned meals; and phone calls home where you promise you only spent the last of your money on course material and not 2-4-1 tequila shots with someone you literally just met.
Academically, you’re ready, but learning how to budget is a work in progress. You won’t get it straight away – most real adults still struggle. But with this extensive guide, you can at least – hopefully – make your first loan windfall last until Christmas.
Here are Freshers Life’s top 10 Fresher Ready Tips for Budgeting at University.
1) Go out, but not all out
As a student, socialising is one of the best ways to eat-up your budget. But it doesn’t have to be. Going out and enjoying well-earned recreational time is an important part of any university lifestyle.
Planning nights out in advance is a good way to save some coin for drinks in the club or at the event. Buy your tickets in advance for the best deals. Don’t get ripped-off on the door. Also, always pre-drink – not like we needed to tell you that, anyway.
But going out isn’t always clubbing. There’s plenty of student discounted fun to be had in the day. Try theme parks, cinemas and other fun, sober things to do. You’ll find loads of cost-cut activities to fit around study during the week.
2.) Keep your waist as slim as your overdraft
Take-aways are tempting. A pot-noodle for breakfast, lunch and now dinner? It can be easy to grab a menu, but when you realise the cost of making a meal vs having one delivered, you’ll soon put down the phone and pick-up a frying pan.
Saving money on food is an easy and efficient way of stretching your budget further. Organise a meal plan to help make that food shop a little easier, which also prevents any hungover impulse buying. After all, how many solid meals will a box of coco pops, 12 cheese slices and a litre of Lucozade get you?
You can also try cooking in bulk and freezing meals. However, if you do want to eat-out, look-out for daily specials and midweek offers that plenty of independent chains provide outside the weekend.
3.) Get a job
Getting a job alongside study is the perfect way to earn extra cash and add valuable work experience to your CV. Check-out Student Jobs for all the latest flexible, part-time opportunities.
If you find you’re struggling to fit work alongside your course, why not look for temporary, seasonal jobs outside term? Work at Christmas – whether that’s in your home town or at university – is relatively easy to find.
4.) No one splits the Uber anyway
Forget the late-for-a-lecture-daytime-taxis. Walking is good for your health and your bank balance. Though unfortunately, U.K. weather isn’t the kindest. Whether you’re going to the shops, on a night out or to an early-morning seminar, ask in your halls’ group chat to see if anyone else is making the same or a similar journey so you can split the cost.
For public transport, see which bus service operates in your area and whether you can get a deal through university. Get the train often? You can save up to a third off your fare with a railcard. Some banks include one when you open a student account, so check that out. A national coach service is also good way to cut travel costs if you’re going home at the end of term. All aboard the Megabus.
5.) Who buys books anyway?
Spending money on course materials may seem a waste. After all, why are you at university anyway? But if you do need more insight than what Wikipedia can give you, you may have to invest in books.
Never buy new and always look online for pre-owned options. University book fairs may have the text you need. There are always second, third and masters students re-selling their books on Facebook groups, too, so keep an eye-out. To save the most money, check your reading list and pre-reserve essential material at your library, if you can.
6.) Keep your student card close
Your student discount will get you savings at most high street chains and online retailers, but also register with Freshers Life for hundreds of student savings that extend further than clothes and shoes.
But if clothes and shoes are your thing, then check-out your new town’s trendy thrift shop. These places can be a goldmine for vintage gear for less. Depop is also full of designer garms’ – and you can sell your unwanted stuff on there for some extra drink tokens, too.
7.) Plan your events
The best student events always sell-out in advance. The UV Neon Rave for instance has sold-out in most cities before freshers even move into halls. The fewer tickets there are, the more prices go up. Make sure you secure yours early.
Once event day does come, plan a big pre-drink session with your new friends to load-up before going to the club. You can also cut taxi costs by splitting the fare equally. Don’t cover their transport off the back of the promise of a drink. Rule number one: they never get you one when you’re in there.
8.) Shopping for the cupboard not the fridge
Non-perishable items like toiletries and tinned food will always be needed. If the supermarket has a good deal on, bulk-buy a few. Towards the end of term, toilet paper becomes its own currency. You can be safe knowing you have stacks-upon-stacks hidden under your bed like the Escobar of Andrex.
If you’re shopping in the wallet-friendly German supermarkets that have taken-over your university town or city, always, always, always look at the middle aisle. It’s a treasure trove of useful finds that YOU WILL no-doubt need in the future. Or maybe not. Don’t be impulsive around those places. Once you start collecting Aldi walking boots, solar lights and doughnut-making machines, it can be hard to stop.
9.) Outsmart your bills
Most of your bills will likely be covered in your tenancy agreement. For luxuries like Netflix subscriptions and Amazon Prime, see if anyone is up for splitting the cost. You’ll be getting the same service at a fraction of the price.
Specifically for Amazon Prime, sign-up for its six-month free student offer. Plenty of other subscription-based services will have similar deals, so be sure to always check before putting pen-to-paper.
10.) Do you really miss Eastenders that much?
Although your halls will advise you to get a tv license, you’re much better off checking if you need to before forking-out. You could be covered by your parents’ agreement, as long as the device you’re watching isn’t connected to a mains power output.
If your family home doesn’t have a tv license, you can still watch catch-up and on-demand shows through streaming sites such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. To watch any BBC programmes – whether on-demand or live – you will need to be covered.
Be sure to check all the guidelines from TV Licensing here.
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