1. Plan ahead
It seems tedious and somewhat laborious for those unused to financial responsibility, but a quick spreadsheet planning out budgets, rough costs of living, university fees etc. can be very useful in the long run. Put aside a couple of hours before term starts, find all your paperwork, log on to your bank accounts; work out the finances so you can stick to them. There’s nothing worse as a student than spending money you don’t have!
It seems simple – but for those in families where the laundry is done by someone else, having to wash your own clothes for the first time is sometimes rather daunting. To save money, use inexpensive “color catchers” to make sure you don’t ruin a whole load of clothing with merging dyes, and check that your load is full; there’s no need to waste water or money on a half-full washing machine.
3. Grants and scholarships
Know what you’re entitled to – if you have absolutely no idea where to start, check out “Scholarship Search” or “StudentCashPoint” online, to fill in details and to find out what you could receive. Sandwich courses also provide valuable employment contacts and sometimes sponsored degrees – see what structural variations there are on your chosen course. Just an example: Brunel University offers a standard 3-year Law degree, or a 4-year sandwich course providing a year’s placement in the industry, where London’s vibrant legal opportunities offer a variety of invaluable experiences.
4. Late-night fast-food
Going out with friends is expensive with meals out and plenty of drinks – there is no need to incur additional costs by drunkenly buying a pizza or KFC at two in the morning! Instead, snack on filling carbs such as cereal or bread once you’re home.
5. Student gyms
You may not want to be seen sweaty and panting by any of your classmates, but university gyms are often incredibly cheap in comparison to normal establishments, that charge at least $30 a month for membership. At least inquire about a student discount – I receive $10 off a month at my local gym for asking just that.
6. Entertainment with food
It seems a simple suggestion, but when going to the cinema, take bottled water (or try not to pay $7 for a box of popcorn!), and when watching movies at home, make your own popcorn and buy other snacks, such as crisps or chocolate, in bulk.
In a student house, sharing food can make a massive difference to your weekly bills. Split the cost of food with friends who have like-minded taste buds; this avoids unnecessary waste when you’ve bought too much for one, and multipacks are often much, much cheaper than single-sold items. Also, there are great social benefits of cooking with friends; everyone can sit and share a meal together as opposed to eating individually. This also saves money by using less electricity/gas to cook food, and by wasting less water when washing-up more cooking utensils.
8. Student discount
Always ask if somewhere, from coffee shops to clothing stores, offers a student discount; some places don’t always make it explicit, many a time have I found a sneaky 10% discount by asking at the till. Just ask nicely on the off-chance that you might get lucky; no one can genuinely be offended by a polite and frugal student!