Student bloggers

Life as a student in Bath

Tagged: Finance and Budgeting

Saving money hacks for University

  

📥  Charlotte (Sociology)

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.

Good luck!

Charlotte

 

Life on a student budget: adapting from a gap year to supermarket own-brands

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📥  Laura (Psychology)

I wasn’t sure what to expect regarding my financial situation at Uni. With my student loan not quite covering my accommodation costs (I mean, that’s a bit of an understatement; it’s £600 less than my termly fees so not a great start and I'm not even in Quads) I was ready to embrace a life of total poverty. Thankfully my parents are helping out; if they weren’t I’d definitely be scrounging my flatmates’ food (even more than I do already), and after spending summer virtually living at my old job I do thankfully have some money to live on!

After 4 months travelling and living on a budget of £15 a day including accommodation I thought I’d be pretty good at budgeting but, as usual, I was wrong. I am in a permanent state of ‘treating myself’ at virtually every opportunity; retail therapy is essentially my only hobby and I’ve found myself buying necessities such as constant supplies of new make-up and chocolate a little too often... I’ve watched my account balance steadily declining and my only source of comfort is knowing that one of my flat mates has already overspent to the point where he has to do all of his food shopping at pound land. Times aren’t that tough just yet, but they are getting close.

In my defence, the first few months are particularly expensive. Freshers’ Week kicks it off pretty well; rounds of shots are a good bonding method with new flat mates and hungover me enjoys regular trips to Fresh (the on-campus supermarket) to stock up on snacks for the day ahead. One particular morning of freshers I’d eaten a share bag of crisps and 4 bread rolls before 10am. Pretty impressive to say the least, and to be fair it only set me back £2! One perk of freshers, though, in terms of budget is that I did save a fair bit of money in the weeks following simply because I had freshers’ flu. I missed a grand total of 5 nights out in the 2 weeks I was virtually bed bound, and with club entry in town averaging £6 this made life considerably cheaper. But I also felt as though I had the plague so this wasn’t a money saving technique I’d recommend regularly taking on.

Aside from these initial nights out, societies have upfront joining costs which need to be accounted for when budgeting. Sports ones have a standard £30 fee, so unless you’re in a position where you’re able to do so it probably isn’t wise to sign up to everything you see. I’m not a very sporty person (I feel like that comes across from my constant references to food), but I decided to sign up to Latin and ballroom because it just seemed like a good time to start something completely new! The joining fee is also motivation to actually go which is pretty good, as well as all the other benefits like meeting people and actually leaving my bed for a while each week. Non sports societies are around £5 or so, I’ve joined Amnesty International and will eventually go if I manage to find the room it’s held in (navigation is not my strong point). So even though I’m not doing a ton of activities for more adventurous people, these upfront costs are pretty steep and something to bear in mind when you’re planning your initial budget.

The gym is considerably more, though; I think a year’s membership is in the £270 region. This isn’t expensive when you think of it in terms of a weekly price or per visit and it’s pretty standard compared to gyms where I live at home, as well as having all the state of the art equipment, Netflix on the machines etc. But I mean, anything over about £3 just doesn’t interest me (or my student budget). The sports’ centre is pretty handy though because there are really good gym classes for £3 ish, there’s a free indoor swimming pool and running tracks which are great alternatives if you’re not sure you can commit to the gym but still want to keep fit. And my flat mates (who are just so cute) also go for group walks and jogs which is so convenient and also fun, and campus is so pretty it’s nice to explore it a bit (only when I’m ready to get out of bed though).

Who needs a treadmill when campus is this pretty?

Who needs a treadmill when campus is this pretty?

Food shopping is pretty weird. I have a ton of dietary requirements (I’m technically a dairy free pescetarian but ‘fussy eater’ will also suffice) and so my parents have always given me a lot of freedom buying my own food, but somehow moving to Uni has meant that I spend the same as the 3 or 4 of us would spend on a weekly shop by myself… To start with I justified it because it was my first shop and I was buying stuff in bulk, but 5 weeks in this has continued to be the case. My brain needs fuelling I guess??? And who can say no to a packet of biscuits (or 5) every now and then.

A rare sighting of a well stocked cupboard after a food delivery

A rare sighting of a well stocked cupboard after a food delivery

I do a big food shop delivery every 10 days or so with a couple of girls in my flat, so we end up paying like £1 delivery each which I’d much rather do than trek across town with bags of food shopping. My ‘top up’ shops in Fresh, which frequently consist purely of junk food, probably don’t help my budget either, but hey, I’m adapting, right? I do cook pretty economically, though; I bulk made a veggie Bolognese, curry, risotto and a couple of pasta bakes so my freezer is always stocked if I can’t find the motivation to cook something from scratch, and it stops me reaching for the Domino’s menu- I’d recommend this if you’re frequently surrounded by empty pizza boxes.

Gone are the days of branded soft drinks

Gone are the days of branded soft drinks

Another big expenditure is travel. Within Bath it’s really not bad; the buses are around £1.50 for a single and £2.50 for a return which is amazing on a night out or shopping trip and a lot cheaper than in my hometown of Bournemouth. Getting home and to visit friends at other unis is a different matter, however. Rail cards are pretty much an essential- I think Santander gives away a free one if you open a student bank account with them (I didn’t) but I bought mine using Tesco club card vouchers, but even if you pay full price you’ll earn the money back quickly anyway. I’d recommend buying off peak returns for trains because plans change and they give you the freedom of returning any time within a month. If you buy a couple of weeks in advance they’re generally cheaper, especially if you travel on a weekday, and if they’re still looking extortionate coaches are a decent alternative although they do take a bit longer. I actually managed to do work on one the other day though which I considered to be a massive achievement.

A lot of students get student jobs, too. My parents were very much against me doing this because I’m very good at getting distracted and would probably sign up to work full time somewhere in town, forgetting that I am actually in Bath to do a degree… But yeah, the benefits of living in a city are that there are plenty of shops and restaurants in the city centre hiring, as well as loads on campus. From working at Fresh or the Limetree restaurant to showing people around Uni on open days, or hey, writing blog posts for prospective students (reserved only for the coolest of students, obviously), if you do find yourself in a situation where your bank account can’t keep up with the lifestyle you’re accustomed to this is always an option. But I’d give it a few weeks to check you’re managing your workload okay before committing yourself to too many hours!

So yeah, that’s the current state my finances are in. I’m not quite in the poverty I anticipated thanks to saving a lot beforehand and being careful (ish) when I can be. I am still awaiting my contactless transactions to come up on my bank statement from the last few days, however, so I may take that statement back pretty soon. Obvious things like not buying too many drinks in night clubs and bars, getting buses rather than taxis are just common sense and while the stereotype of poor students is fairly accurate money isn’t something to worry about too much. There are plenty of bursaries available and your loan is dependent on your parents’ incomes so don’t start panicking; you won’t just be thrown into uni with no money. I’m still adapting to life on a budget where I’m responsible for buying things for myself (the shower gel bottles don’t just refill themselves???) but it’s all an experience and all your flat mates are in a similar position. I recently had to lend a friend money because she checked her account and found she only had £1.53, but hey, it’s a learning curve and adapting is pretty much unavoidable so hey, just embrace it (and Christmas is coming up; maybe this year’s list can include fun things like shampoo and pasta).

Laura x

 

A Social life: having one and funding it!

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📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, First year, Ruth

University is definitely not all about work and study, it is so important to have fun and to take some time out from studying. I’ve loved the social side of university so far and I hope I can give you a flavour for what it is like here at the University of Bath. Of course, it is difficult to fund a social life, especially when you are a student and perhaps find yourself in charge of your own money for the first time, so I hope to give you some handy tips too!

There is a good night life in Bath (despite what you may have heard!) with a number of student nights running at various clubs throughout the week. A personal favourite is Moles on a Tuesday night where they play all the very best cheesy songs! However when getting the bus into town seems like just too much effort there are two nights a week put on by the Students Union (SU) on campus. Score takes place on a Wednesday night and is mainly attended by sports teams but is open to all, Klass takes place on Saturday night and is great to go to as a flat because it is so convenient, with it being on campus. Each Saturday is a different theme which can provide great opportunities for dressing up!

Klass: one of the weekly club nights at the SU

Klass: one of the weekly club nights at the SU

If this kind of nightlight isn’t for you then the SU has a variety of other events during the week, such as a quiz night, film night and an open mic night. The quiz night is great for bringing out people’s competitive sides and the SU has been known to show some classics on film night.

As well as these events which are organised for everyone, there are also events put on by specific societies for their members. I am a member of the Baking Society and we have fortnightly socials where we basically just eat cake (what is there not to love?). Also BAPS (Bath Association of Psychology Students) has regular socials such as pizza nights, bar crawls and trips to Bristol, I know that societies for other courses have similar events. These are just the societies I am part of, there are so many more and I guarantee there will be at least one that takes your fancy! Have a look at our Student’s Union website for a full list of the societies here at Bath.

One of many societies you can be part of!

One of many societies you can be part of!

So you’re probably wondering how, as a student, you are supposed to have enough money to enjoy these kind of events. Well, I have to admit it has been a learning curve but I am finally starting to feel like I can budget well and have enough money to enjoy myself. My first tip would be to be disciplined when buying food. It is so easy to see all your favourite foods on the shelf, transfer them to your basket and before you know it you have spent a fortune, so make a list before you go shopping and only buy what you need – planning meals for the week really helps with this. I have also made the most of getting food from home when I visit or getting my parents to take me food shopping when they come to visit me.

Valentine's themed bake!

Valentine's themed bake!

My second tip would be to make the most of discounts! Whether that be downloading vouchers from emails you’d have previously moved to ‘trash’ or visiting food shops late at night as they apply discounts. A great way to save money is to have an NUS card, which will make sure you can get all the student discounts you are entitled to.  I have found that one very costly aspect of University is travelling so be sure to get a railcard/National Express card and consider getting a saver bus ticket if you think you will be using it regularly at University.

 

Deadlines: 99 Problems and they're all due by Friday

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📥  Matt, School of Management, Second year

The first thing I should say here is that I haven't actually got 99 problems and I don't actually have any deadlines set for Friday. I do have one for Tuesday but "I have one assignment and it's due on Tuesday" is more of a small talk conversation starter than a thought provoking blog title. No matter, it is what it is.

I have however just come out of an incredibly intense four weeks in which I was pushed to the limit in terms of trying to balance university studies with everything else. This has led me to ask if trying to balance too much is worth it, what the drawbacks are and what is the best way to cope in situations where you feel like you're drowning in work.

I started off this semester by resigning from my part time job at a local restaurant in Bath with the plan of focussing 100% on my studies and relaxing this year. I've worked part time with my studies since I was 15 and I'd decided it was time for a year to just study. This all went down the drain less than a week later when I received an unexpected email from a very well known technology company, inviting me to attend an interview for a position in their store - I really couldn't say no.

By the end of October, I'd managed to secure a job within the company and went on to begin working in one of their stores which for the first few weeks was incredibly demanding because I had so much to learn and do - I was spending on average 45 hours per week there for the month of November before I resumed normal contracted hours at the beginning of December.

On top of the 45 hours at work, I had to make sure I attended all of my lectures which involved some very creative time management. I had multiple coursework deadlines due throughout November along with a number of mid term assessments. So how did I try to manage this and what were the drawbacks?

Staying on Top of Coursework & Assessments

The key to staying well on top of coursework is to start it as early as possible. Most courses will give you your coursework assignments in the first couple of weeks and as soon as you know the questions, you can begin to get some books and start reading about it at the start of semester before you get too busy.

I'm really not a nerdy person - I usually facilitate watching Netflix all day by setting myself personal deadlines for a week or two before the actual deadline and force myself to have my essays finished by then. Just before my crazy four weeks, I realise that I needed to get on top of things early so I went home to Northern Ireland for 4 days. In the 4 days, I completed two essays by dedicating two full days to each and not allowing myself to return to Bath without two essays ready for submission. I find this tactic of doing loads of research and blasting the essay out in a couple of days is often a good one. It stops you dragging out one essay for a few weeks. It also lets you quickly check a whole task off your long list of things to do and this will majorly reduce your stress levels - make sure you do adequate research before starting though!

With two essays already ready to go before I'd even started working, that left me to organise my calendar and schedule in specific times to prepare for my 4 assessments and write my remaining essay. I found that having an incredibly precise daily calendar allowed me to keep on track by knowing exactly what I was doing and when. I'd usually prepare this a day in advance and it looked something like this for a few weeks:

My busy schedule

My busy schedule

Drawbacks

As you can see from the calendar picture above, I didn't really have much of a social life over those few weeks but at the same time, I was making a lot of new friends in the training for my new job so there was a social side to that in some respects. I also missed out on things like going to the gym which I usually do quite regularly to relax which was a definite drawback.

I found that the most important thing was making sure that I got adequate sleep because if you get out of a regular sleeping pattern, it becomes incredibly difficult to catch up. That meant strict bed times and wake up times. I tried to set aside an hour at the end of every day before going to sleep where I could just chill and watch some TV or see some friends but it didn't always happen.

There were multiple times where I felt like there was no end in sight and the lack of free time often made it feel like days were just running into one another.

Is it worth it?

I think that for anyone who tries to get involved in extracurricular activities at university, there is always going to be a point where you're going to be biting off more than you can chew and sometimes you are going to have a couple of really intense weeks where you maybe don't get to do all the things you'd usually do.

Whilst I wouldn't recommend taking on so much that you constantly find yourself too busy to cope, I would say that there are times where you just need to roll up your sleeves, have a few late nights and get your head down for a few weeks. It's important that you stay on top of work and have a clear plan about how you're going to keep on top of everything and have a time in the future that you're working towards where you know you can finally relax.

"There is no substitute for hard work" (Thomas Edison)

 

Budgeting as a first year

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📥  Matt, School of Management

I often want to spend my money. All of it. Including the £1500 interest free overdraft which isn't actually my money. This is a poor life choice, don't do it.

Let's put things in perspective. I have £10.00 in my wallet.

To you, the average  teen, this may not seem like a lot and you're right, it's not really that much. However, let me show you £10 in terms of a student.

£10 is the equivalent of:

  • 5 all day tickets for the Bath bus service
  • 4 doubles and a mix at your favourite club
  • 1/2 of a weeks shopping if you shop at Asda
  • 1/3 of a weeks shopping if you shop at Sainsbury's or Waitrose (that's me)
  • 2 months Spotify Premium
  • Almost 2 months of Netflix
  • £682 if my premier league accumulator comes through this week

Before you come to university it's a really good idea to sit down and try and work out how much you expect to spend per week and compare this with your student loan and any other income you may be receiving from a part time job or parents.

I rely completely on my job and parents due to the fact that my student loan is £1500 less than my rent so believe me when I say, I understand budgeting.

Entertainment 

Entertainment is a necessary investment for most students.

For music, I started to use Spotify this year because if you use your NUS card, it's only £4.99 per month for Spotify Premium which allows you to download music to your phone, tablet and computer. It's a lot cheaper than buying music and you don't have to download every song as you can stream songs you only listen to once or occasionally.

For TV and movies, I use Netflix and the catch up sites such as iPlayer. For some shows that are harder to get, I use Now TV which is powered by Sky so I can watch some of the premium shows such as Game of Thrones for £7.99 a month. This is a non-contract service so you pay for one month at a time and there are no ties.

Entertainment total: £19/month

Food & Drink

How much you spend on groceries will depend entirely on what you buy and where you buy it from. I shop at Sainsbury's and I find that generally it costs me around £35/week to buy my groceries. I don't buy fizzy drinks and I don't buy frozen food and I don't buy a lot of snacks except those overpriced activia yoghurts that you tip the granola into but they're amazing so it's justifiable. I buy Sainsbury's branded products for all my basic stuff and then branded things for the foods that I specifically like.

I tend to avoid using the mini supermarket on campus. Whilst it is convenient if I run out of milk of something specific, it is generally considerably more expensive than supermarkets.

Try to buy in bulk when you see an offer on something that doesn't have an imminent use by date, this will allow you to save money in future. I bulk purchased baked beans in October and it saved me £10 and I'm still using them.

Also watch out for promotions for online shopping in September. Most supermarkets offer £25 off your first shop to gain your custom so just use them all for the first month and a half to save a lot of money.

Socialising

Whether it's going to a club or the cinema, socialising is often the most expensive part of your week. In Bath, a cinema ticket will cost you just under £10.

Entry to a club will be £5+ whatever you spend on drinks + transport (£2 for a bus and £10 for a taxi).

Other Costs 

Laundry costs me about £6 per week for 2 washes and 1 tumble dry. I could save money by using my drying rack but I'm too lazy.

Transport will cost you £2 for a day ticket in Bath when you travel with First. Taxis are quite expensive so avoid them when you can.

Textbooks are usually a very expensive part of university with most costing an average of £60. You will find that you will not need all of them. Talk to a second year on your course and they will tell you exactly which ones are important. Other ones you can get from the library or not use at all. I know that there are a few textbooks I bought for semester 1 and haven't opened yet. I also bought a textbook that I need off my flatmate for £20 that would usually cost £50.

My advice to any student is to save money wherever you can and use your NUS student discount no matter how little it is for. All of this will add up and it will mean that next time you're in the city and see something you want but don't need like a Nespresso machine, you can buy it with a little bit less guilt... Well a little less financial guilt!

Nespresso machine

This is Tom's Nespresso machine, because normal coffee is too mainstream

If you have any questions about any costs I haven't mentioned, leave a comment and I'll reply to you!

Until next time.

Matt

Cooking in Self-Catered Accommodation

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📥  Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Hannah

When choosing accommodation for your first year at university the main decision you’ll have to make is between catered and self-catered. There are of course pros and cons to both and it’s quite a difficult choice to make when you’ve had no experience of living in them. A lot of people panic about cooking and cleaning for themselves at university and I wasn’t any different. Before I came to university I had a reputation in my family for being a terrible cook. So I always thought that I would live in a catered accommodation. It can make life easier, as there’s no stress about cooking when you’re tired or have a lot of work to do and you don’t need to do regular food shopping. Have a read of Joseph’s blog for more info about living in catered accommodation at Bath University.

But surprisingly enough I chose to live in self-catered. As my parents pointed out everyone is self-catered in second year anyway and first year is quite a good time to get used to looking after yourself. You have less to do in first year and so more time for cooking! However, and I cannot say this enough, I knew absolutely nothing about cooking before I came to university. I used to phone my parents and friends for advice every time I made a meal. If this is you, don’t worry. Uni is actually a great place to try stuff out and it’s totally stress free because you’re only cooking for yourself. This means you get to cook exactly what you want and if you make a mistake or it doesn’t look like the picture in the recipe book doesn’t matter! It will also provide a lot of laughs for your new housemates!

Shopping

Food shopping is a pretty important part of self-catering and if you don’t keep on top of it you will end up eating a lot of pasta and toast. As the uni isn’t in town and is on the top of a massive hill shopping can seem like a bit of a pain at first. No one wants to trek all the way into town every single week and haul a load of shopping back on the bus. There is a shop, Fresh, on Campus but because it’s the only one buying food there can end up being expensive. Although there are lots of fairly cheap restaurants and food outlets on campus it’s nice to make your own meals in your kitchen – this for me was the best way to get to know your flatmates. So my solution was online shopping. Delivery vans are a common sight on the roads around Eastwood. I usually shop with Asda and get good deals and good quality food.

Cupboard stocked-up!

Cupboard stocked-up!

However supermarkets aren’t really geared to people only shopping for food for one person. Most deals include 2 or 3 of something when you only need one or big packets that go off after you’ve only eaten one portion of them. This is where your new best friend, the freezer, comes in handy. I often cook three or four servings of a meal in one go and then freeze the rest. This can be really helpful if you have any late night training or societies as you can just heat up your dinner when you get home (and it’s healthier than ready-made meals). Also another way of getting around this problem is to do one shop every two weeks. This means you can buy some things, like meat, in bulk and stock up on things like milk and bread as and when you run out.

Ideally I aim to spend £25-£30 a week on food, though sometimes I do go over this, especially if Fresh have their £3 Ben and Jerry’s deal! Also don’t worry of you find you spend too much or you always buy too much/too little when you first come to uni. It takes a bit of time to work out what’s right for you.

Cooking

Shopping is the easy bit – now you’ve got to actually cook it! It can be very tempting at the beginning to try and live off pasta, especially after Fresher’s week when you barely have the energy to get out of bed and go to lectures let alone cook. And I won’t deny it – pasta is great. You can have loads of different sauces with it, it goes with meat and vegetable and it’s a quick and easy dish. But it can get quite boring and pasta 7 days a week is not exactly healthy eating. Most of my family are very good cooks so I am quite used to eating good home cooked food and a few weeks into university I realised how much I was missing it. So I did some research online and found some simple and cheap recipes that came out really well.

Student Recipes is a good site because it organises its recipes by ingredients so if you’ve bought some chicken and aren’t quite sure what to do with it have a look on here for a really varied list of meals with chicken.

BBC Good Food is good for all the basics. There are a lot of really easy dishes that I didn’t know or understand the methods for and they are really well explained here.

Online recipes are also good as people leave comments of their own experiences making the dish and suggestions for improvement, so have a quick flick through before you start!

Batch of shepherd's pie

Batch of shepherd's pie

I have several easy to make meals that I always fall back on. Chilli con carne is one of my favourites, simple to make, freezeable (and doesn’t lose any of its taste when reheated), and you can have it with rice, cous cous or pasta so it doesn’t feel like you’re eating the same meal over and over again. Risotto is good as well – you can add virtually anything to it which is a good way of using up any left overs. Other simple meals are roasted vegetables, shepherd’s pie, roast potatoes, sausages, quiche, frittata, toad in the hole…it all depends on what you like! Some people like to cook with their friends and take it in turn to cook for each other which can give you a bit of a break. Just make sure you find someone with similar tastes to you!

In the end I was really glad I chose self-catered accommodation – I now enjoy cooking (and I used to hate it) and its fun trying out new recipes even if sometimes they don’t work out. So don’t be put off applying to self-catered because you feel like you can’t cook, it’s a great time and place to learn!

 

Budgeting at University

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📥  Faculty of Engineering, Joseph

University, as I’m sure you’ll come realise for yourself, is a whirlwind experience. I’ve found myself to be so busy over the first six weeks of term that I’ve barely had time to think, but budgeting is an important part of life here and no matter how busy you are cash flow has to be considered. However, have no fear; hopefully this blog post will provide you with a little bit of information about my observations thus far when it comes to making your student finances go as far as possible.

First of all, let me put you all at ease; I’m not bankrupt yet. Living in the Quads on campus has been a real life saver as we (along with a few other residences on campus) get money put onto our library cards each semester. We can spend this money on food at any of the food outlets on campus and there's quite a range to choose from so you can easily get whatever you want at any particular time whether it be a sandwich or a hot cooked meal. During Fresher’s Week in particular, this was a popular topic of conversation as many of us didn’t think we’d spend the considerable amount of money we had been equipped with. How wrong we were – the food on campus is both varied and tasty (perhaps too good!) and I’ve found myself spending money on my card at least once a day.

Meals on campus range from around £2 in the Fountain Canteen up to around £10 for steak in the Parade and for proper sit-down service in the Wessex Restaurant on campus. This option to buy food with nothing but your library card in your pocket makes life a lot easier after a busy day of lectures when you can’t muster the energy to cook for yourself. Similarly whenever I’ve managed to finish labs early and there isn’t enough time to go back to the room; it’s nice to be able to grab a guilt free coffee on the way to a maths lecture.

From time to time everybody on my floor in the Quads gets together and heads out for a proper meal which is a really great way to spend an hour or so away from the madness of partying and coursework that is university. We can all use our library cards and meet up in one of the eating places to socialise over some food that we haven't had to cook ourselves in the communal kitchen. This is a bonus if you are like me with limited cooking skills and you need a bit of a break from pasta and toast! You have to remember that everyone here at the University of Bath is in the same boat, everybody is worrying about budgeting equally and I’ve found that this makes things a whole lot easier when it comes to keeping the costs down. Everyone has limited resources and everyone is juggling to get the most out of their money; everyone has to think about food, laundry, equipment, books, gym membership and of course saving enough cash for some essential socialising. I’ve never felt pressured into spending money I haven’t wanted to spend, and saying no is both accepted and understood by everyone.

In addition to this, I have found that the best way to budget effectively at university is to stay organised. Although I haven’t had the time to note down everything I’ve spent every day as I would have liked to, making time to organise your room and your food cupboard in the kitchen ensures that you frequently check up on supplies and are able to plan for the week ahead. This way, I’ve managed to make sure there’s always something in the cupboard to cook if need be (survival rations if you will), and I’ve never been short of clean underwear or clothes either! Organisation really is paramount to success both academically and in day to day living at university – my life here is so full that before I know it another week has passed by and I'm down at the boathouse for weekend training!

Another worry of mine before I came was whether or not a bus pass would be necessary in the first year. The majority of first year students I’ve met so far haven’t bought a bus pass and seem to be getting along just fine. Despite the fact that due to rowing commitments I have to travel into town every weekend not having a bus pass has still paid off. Day passes are less than £3 and the majority of first year students I’ve met only pop into the beautiful city of Bath once a week – not having a bus pass is entirely justified. It’s also completely possible to walk to and from the city centre and I’ve even walked to the boathouse on occasion. When the weather’s good and you find yourself with a couple of hours free on a Sunday afternoon a walk into the city is therapeutic and relaxing. There are many shortcuts through the fields which enable you to get into town surprisingly quickly. The scenery in Bath isn’t too bad either; living in perhaps the most picturesque city in England there really is nothing to complain about. You really do not have to have loads of extra cash in your pocket to enjoy it....

Bath scenery

Bath scenery

 

Getting a job at Uni

  

📥  Matt, School of Management

A lot of students will be searching for part time work at university – it helps you gain experience of the workplace and also gives you a little bit of extra cash each week.

The first thing you need to ask yourself is if you have time for a job and how many hours per week are you willing to commit to part time work. I have 16 hours of contact time per week on my French and International Management course which means that I should be devoting at least 20 hours of personal study time to my subject. Round it up and that’s 40 hours of my week written off for uni work – remember that 40 hours is the average working hours for a full time job. A lot of other courses, especially sciences, have an even higher time requirement so many of these students generally don’t have time for a part time job. If your course is heavy, is it worth an extra £100 a week to sabotage your degree and reduce your overall earning potential when you graduate? No, you’re just going to waste £9000 per year.

If you’re unsure about how much work you’ll need to do, do what I did and get a second year’s number and ask them all about the course.

However, if you think you can spare the time for a part time job, get on it before you even get to Bath. If you already work for a brand, find out if they have a branch in Bath – that’s what I did and now I’m working as a part time supervisor in Garfunkel’s where I get paid to stand around for 20 hours a week and drink coffee. Internal transfers are really convenient because you generally won’t require any additional training so you can just step into a job in Bath without too much hassle.

If you can’t transfer, don’t worry! The best way to secure work is to find out which stores are hiring. Send an email to the branch you’re interested in, attach your CV and briefly explain your situation. Look on their website and apply through their official application process. Bath has every store you could think of so it’s really easy to search for a job whether it’s in a chain restaurant or in a retail store.

However, do not agree to an unreasonable amount of hours, just so you can secure a job. If you agree to work 30 hours a week and then realise that you can only do 10, you will be in breach of contract with your employer and they will be within their rights to dismiss you if they wish. Make it clear to your employer how much you are prepared to do and be ready to negotiate. Employers appreciate employees that are honest and to the point.

Set up a bank account

Many people don’t think about setting up a student account but it really is worth it. Some banks offer incentives such as a free 4 year rail card or perhaps an NUS card – these are things that you will use as a student and they will save you money in the long run. My account also gives me a £1500 interest free overdraft that I will hopefully never have to use but I have the security of knowing that it is there for me if I ever do need it.