University life can quickly drain your student bank account. With tuition fees on the rise, you’ll be looking to save that student dosh. So here are some small tips on how to stretch your maintenance loan just that little bit further.
Food: Plan ahead!
First of all, plan your meals roughly for the next ten days. If you have an idea about what you’re going to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner at university, you can buy accordingly and make use of all your items. Isn’t that better than letting that lone impulse bought aubergine slowly rot away in the vegetable drawer? Yes, meal plans might sound boring and time consuming, but it honestly works and it is a big step towards saving you money. I myself am living proof: I went from spending upwards of £40 on my weekly shop down to a student budget friendly £25. If you want a way to spice it up, then get your housemates or friends together and make it into a competition: who can make the best meal plan? I guarantee once you’ve followed it for a few weeks you’ll be turning to friends saying, “Sorry, I can’t get pizza with you tonight, Tuesday night is lasagne night!”
As if that wasn’t reason enough, there is another perk to this scheme: you can take packed lunches into university. If I have a good lunch to look forward to on a long day I’m always much happier, plus it stops you spending money when you’re there.
Warning: Always shop on a full stomach. Many a stupid thing has been brought in the name of hunger.
Nights out: Drink responsibly!
Pre-drinks are a God send to cash strapped university students. Rather than going to a few pubs before a night club, stay in and have one or two drinks with friends. If you pool all that money you might have spent in the pub; you’ll find you can buy a bottle of something nice (ish).
When choosing where to go on a night out, pick the weekday club nights with student deals. Never go out on a weekend if you can help it, not it you want to shell out shedloads of cash. Then again, don’t miss all your Wednesday morning lectures just because the best student night is a Tuesday!
Another tip: if only you take a certain amount of cash with you on nights out, then you won’t be tempted to spend more. Throw caution to the wind and leave your debit and credit cards at home (of course, budgeting just enough cash to get home by taxi or bus). This way you won’t splash your student loan on a round for all your friends and everyone at the bar – I’m speaking from personal experience here…
Warning: If following this guide (in excess), it can lead to memory loss, chronic head pains and vomiting.
Clothes: Try shopping off the beaten track
Clothes. We love them, there’s no way around it. When the illusion of free cash I like to call my student loan comes in, I’m instantly tempted to head straight to the nearest clothes shop. I love having something new to wear, so why shouldn’t I be allowed new things?
So here’s my tip: invest in new staples, i.e. a pair of black leggings, and see if you can find a gem of a dress or top sifting through charity shops or thrift stores to finish off your new look. It’s much cheaper and you can find some great clothes. Hitting the charity shops might not be for the fainthearted, but give it a try. Second hand clothes are basically vintage anyway. Believe me, people throw away some lovely items. What’s that phrase? “One man’s trash…”
Warning: Requires hard work, patience and a good half a day!
Days out: Be prepared
This may sound a bit middle-aged but take a bottle of water or juice or even a thermos of coffee or tea with you on days out. The fact is, the longer you’re out, the more you’re going to need a drink and be tempted to part with your cash. It sounds stingy, but that’s extra cash you could be saving.
Sure you might be thinking “what’s a couple of quid here and there?” but it all adds up. Unfortunately, the student ideal of sitting in a squidgy arm chair in a coffee shop tapping away on your laptop with a nice hot drink, only works if you have the cash to back it up. For the rest of us poor schmoes, it’s only a once in a while occurrence.
Take a little packed lunch as well to avoid splashing out on costly sandwiches. Go on, embrace your inner granny and proudly tote your packed lunch and thermos bottle. Saving money on the little things really pays off in the long run.
Warning: Plan ahead. In a rush, a piece of bread and a banana can seem like a good packed lunch. It’s not.
Entertainment: Shop around
Have plans to go to the cinema? Orange Wednesdays is the obvious choice for the cost conscious student but also check out if there are any independent cinemas near you. Often they’ll do better student prices and accept Orange Wednesday codes too! Sorted. Sweets, popcorn and drinks can all be supplied by your local food shop.
Warning: Everyone knows that food and drink at the cinema is a rip off, don’t be a victim!