Saving money can be challenging especially as an international student. You may not be used to the local prices and day-to-day expenses of living independently. However, do not fear as I’m here to give you my tips on saving and spending money on a budget.
Having a monthly plan for the expenditures you intend to make, is a great starting point to assess how much of your money goes into various categories. I created an Excel spreadsheet with nominal expenditures ranging from groceries, travel, stationery, eating out etc to more substantial costs such as tuition fees and accommodation to keep a tally on these. If I notice an increase in spending in any of the nominal costs, I am able to reflect on my spending and be mindful thereafter.
Once you have an idea of how much you would spend in a typical month, having a budget may be a good idea to act as a cut-off point.
Meal prepping is a very underrated method of saving money. It is a way of creating meals in advance for the week and storing it to ensure you don’t end up spending too much money on eating out. I did not realize how effective this was until mid 1st year, when not only was I craving home-cooked food but also had to cut down on my take-out expenses.
I buy a bulk of groceries at the beginning of the week and make about 3 or 4 dishes such as sautéed vegetables, curry, lentils, salads and store them in boxes. I’m then able to make various combinations of these meals which last me the whole week. This also allows you to save money on grocery shopping, rather than having to go to the store every couple of days.
Watch out for those deals!
Being a student comes with a lot of advantages such as deals and discounts! Apps like Unidays, Student Beans, Totum etc offer discounts on major retailers and stores across the UK. You can even ask stores and restaurants if they offer student discounts and will be surprised to know that many of them do.
When it comes to travel, First Bus has student bundles which are weekly, monthly and termly. Depending on the frequency of your travel to and from the University, you can choose an appropriate bus pass that allows you to save money instead of spending extra on a single ticket.
Securing part-time jobs is a great way of earning money to cover your daily expenses. The Students' Union jobs page continuously advertises vacancies for different jobs ranging from shop assistants, canteen staff, research assistants and student ambassadors. You are paid on an hourly basis and the roles offer you flexibility in terms of your working hours considering you are a full-time student.
You can choose a job that suits your timings as well as your interests. Since my 1st year, I have been a Student Ambassador and it has been so rewarding, not only in terms of salary but also the experiences I have received by interacting with a diverse group of students.
Living abroad is expensive but with the right mindset and these tips to guide you, I hope you are able to maintain your desired budget at university!
I hope you found these tips useful! Let me know in the comments below what has helped you in saving money at university.