I have now been a University student for almost 5 years. Along the way I have learnt some pretty valuable lessons about life, as you would from going to University, and one of the things I have learnt, through good and (very) bad times, is how to handle my money! I’m not a money saving expert, however I have been in situations over the years where I have had to really think about how much I am spending and exactly what I am spending my money on. Most university students will choose to take out a student loan, get a student bank account with a large interest-free overdraft, and maybe even take out a student credit card (don’t do that last one!), and that is fair enough, it does get you by! The tough situation comes in the final semester when you get your last instalment for the year. The hard part here is trying to make that last the whole semester and potentially even the summer! Here are some tips for saving in your final month of uni.
1. Plan ahead!! The final semester is packed full of exciting things at most universities, things that require a lot of money, not to mention, if living in student accommodation, no doubt your last rent payment is due! At my university, we have a huge end of year celebration that lasts three days! Sounds fantastic- it is!! But it also costs in the region of £50-£70 just for the tickets to the events! If you are a final year, there are other events to take into account such as graduation, and graduation ball plus outfits! All pricey. Planning what you need to pay for at the start, gives you an idea of how much you have left to spend at your leisure.
2. Cut out the luxuries. This sounds brutal but it’s true. Do you really need to be having a Starbucks Double Espresso Caramel Americano every single day? And I know that it is virtually impossible to say no a Nandos, but the money you spend on one meal one evening, could pay for a weeks worth of grocery shopping. Cut back on expensive things and look for the cheaper alternative. There is nothing wrong with making a cup of tea at home for free!
3. Eat home-cooked meals. Towards the end of the year, students are extremely stressed and most spend the majority of their capable waking hours in the library. Some live in the library, and I mean that. This often means falling into the trap of buying new food for every meal. There is an increase in takeaways and the chances are you’re spending a great deal in your overpriced union shop without even realising because making the trip to Tesco is too much! Buying raw ingredients is always cheaper in the long run because it lasts longer so do your best to go home for meals and rock up something that might even be healthier than what you could have bought!
4. Create a budget form. If you like excel and charts, you’ll like this one. Once you’ve worked out everything you need to buy, you can create a budget spreadsheet with the remainder of your money and work out how much you can spend a week without getting into a serious no-money situation. I started my masters this year and as I wasn’t entitled to a student loan (perils of postgraduate study!) so I had to work out how much money I could spend a week. This allowed me to keep track of what I was spending, and where. And I pretty quickly learnt that I really shouldn’t spend more than my weekly budget!
Stay tuned for Part 2….