Christmas is just around the corner, but..university is so expensive! There’s rent to pay, text books to buy and pub crawls to fund, all on a very limited budget.
So how are you supposed to have enough in the kitty for those all important Xmas gifts? Not to mention any socialising you take part in over the festive break.
If you only just started studying for your degree a few months ago, you may not have been prepared for the financial black hole that is university life. Even the third year veterans get caught out by unexpected bills and over-spending in the first few weeks of term.
To help students old and new navigate the murky waters of fiscal responsibility, and save a few precious pennies to put toward Christmas commitments, we’ve put together this list of tips. You’ll be amazed how far you can stretch those pounds and pences.
Make a Budget
Responsibility is cool! At least that’s what I keep telling myself.
In all seriousness, making a budget is one of the smartest things you can do. It only takes an hour or so at the beginning of term and will save you getting into a rut later down the line.
Create a simple spreadsheet with your monthly incomings and outgoings and then you can see exactly how much spending money you have leftover for ‘luxuries’.
Treat Yourself at the End of the Month
It’s tempting to go on a shopping spree when your loan has just come in and your bank account looks healthy but this is a one-way ticket to overspending. Hold-off until the end of the month, see what you’ve got leftover and then burn that cash on clothes, music and video games (or Christmas presents!).
Cook from Scratch
Ditch the takeaways and meals out, yes, even the ones with student discount and free drinks. Shopping in bulk and cooking all your meals from scratch saves you an incredible amount of money.
There are people who can eat like a king on just £2 a day. That’s £14 a week, or £140 for a whole ten-week semester. While that kind of budgeting isn’t possible for everyone, if you cook from scratch anyone can realistically expect to spend just £20 a week.
Don’t Buy Stationery
Pens, notebooks, highlighters – you can get all these for free (or do away with them altogether), so don’t waste your money. If you prefer to work with pen and paper, scope out the freebies at Fresher’s Week for stationery.
If you’re more technologically minded, use a laptop or tablet to keep notes during lectures and seminars.
Save money on travel costs and gym memberships by walking as much as you can. Get together with a group of friends and walk to lectures or the pub, it’s safer and makes the trek more interesting.
For longer journeys home, invest in a 16-25 Railcard which can save you up to a third on train tickets.
Do Your Research
Before buying anything (and we really mean anything), shop around.
If for example you’re investing in a new laptop, compare prices online and in-store. Ask for a student discount or use a coupon to knock up to 20% off the price.
Never plump for the first price you find, even if it looks like a great deal. You can always come back to it if you don’t find better.
Good luck with your budgeting, and here's to a Merry Christmas with that extra cash in your pocket!