Dollar, Wonga, Cash, Bucks, Chips, Squids, Dough, Gravy, Loot and Readies. I haven’t gone nutty – these are my favourite slang words for money and ultimately, all I know is that money is short at University. I’m sorry to say it, but you better start tightening your belt!
One of the first things you will learn when arriving at University is that waking up, logging into your bank account and seeing your student finance money is better than waking up on Christmas morning. It’s ace. I remember when I got my first installment feeling a little flustered, and I struggled to stop myself from going straight to the Topshop website, and ordering a gigantic takeaway to my bedroom. I was loaded!
The catch is that this money has got to last you several months. As truly lovely as it may seem at first to essentially be ‘rolling in it’, this feeling won’t last for long and it might hit you square in the face if you spend it all and find yourself living off Weetabix and weak Tesco value tea with UHT milk for 10 weeks of the term. Here are some of my best tips for saving money at University, so you have a little extra to spend on treats, luxuries and not on dried pasta and shampoo from Poundland.
First up: budgeting rocks. I’m sure you promised your parents and your pedantic Grandad that you would indeed ‘keep your eyes on your pennies’ and you’d budget, but honestly, it really is a great weapon for looking after your money. Buying a simple cash book, or even just jotting down your spending each week on the back of your planner can be really helpful and allows you to see exactly where your money is going. I’ve also found that instead of waving my debit card around each week, I get out cash on a Sunday and only allow myself to spend this as then I can keep total tabs on my spending (and keeping some cash on you at all times on campus is convenient especially for buying bus tickets and buying event tickets!). Small purchases such as a bottle of milk here or a pair of tights there can really add up, or they’re easy to forget so scribbling these down can help you stay on top of your spending. This also means that the Bank of Mum and Dad’s gates don’t have to be opened too often, and you’ll get son/daughter points from the family!
Another handy pointer is to write a shopping list each week and when shopping for food, drink and other necessities to only scoop up what is on your list. Writing a meal plan makes this easy and doable. Additionally, try and avoid making lots of small trips to the shops as they add up. Instead of 4 trips totalling £7 to Sainsbury’s during the week, grabbing everything at once can be a lot cheaper and buying in bulk can be immensely economical in many cases.
Applying for scholarships and bursaries sounds tedious, but it’s very easy and can have huge financial yield for you. The University of Bath offers a plethora of scholarships for eligible students, and having a search online can also flag up many bodies essentially giving money to students to aid their studies and University life! A quick Google will help you find out what grants and donations are available for you.
Say yes to NUS! The National Union of Students offers a discount card which can save you money in a multitude of restaurants and shops both online and in-store. For example, on Mondays and Tuesdays you can snatch up 40% off in Pizza Express and the guilt in Topshop, Urban Outfitters, River Island or H&M for example is lessened with the brandishing of 10% off discount with the card. Additionally, being a student at the University of Bath offers some advantages such as free entry into the Roman Baths (A good’un to do with your family who have to pay around £14 each – what a saving!) and subsidised journeys on buses and to Bristol. You can also nab online discounts from Apple, Penguin or Waterstones for example by getting a ‘Unidays’ account using your student email address, saving you lots of money too.
Don’t buy new textbooks, they are megabucks! Because academic textbooks and peer-reviewed journals cost a bomb, it can be very practical to purchase your required readings from Amazon second hand, or from older students who advertise their old books on Facebook and alike.