I know exams are coming up and everyone’s revising, but as someone that does a coursework-only degree, I don’t think I’m the best person to give revision tips. Instead I’m going to address another stressful topic for many students: money.
Student loans only go so far, but my first year at university has taught me how to make the most of every penny (as well as how to earn a few more) and I’m going to share my knowledge with you.
Your local is a good choice for the basics; bread, milk etc. but bigger shops are almost always cheaper for everything else. Also, don’t be scared to branch out from Tesco or Sainsburys, I found an amazing cheap butchers in Loughborough called Crawshaws that sells 3 meat bundles for £5- I freeze and defrost as I need them, and this lasts me about a week and a half. I also go to the market in town (it’s on Thursdays and Sundays), where there are really cheap fruit and veg stalls- putting in a little extra effort and visiting a couple of different shops will save you a lot of money.
SHARING IS CARING
If you’re good friends with your flat/housemates, buying in bulk and sharing food can be a good option; in my first semester I wasted a lot of food and money simply by buying too much and not being able to eat it all before its use by date.
One fun idea we had in my flat was to do a ‘Come Dine With Me‘ style week, where one person cooked for everyone else each day. It’s a fun way to get to know each other better in your first weeks of uni and also saves you buying meals for a full week; buying in bulk usually works out cheaper than buying for one.
DON’T GET CARRIED AWAY, OKAY?
I own a large selection of fancy dress outfits that were worn once each and will never be worn again. My boyfriend has a £30 bottle of elderflower vodka that he impulse bought during Freshers and detests the taste of.
It’s very tempting to go on a shopping spree as soon as your loan comes in, especially during Freshers, and honestly you should treat yourself after all the hard work it took to get to uni. Just remember that you need to pay for accommodation and food and stuff too; parents will not be super amused to get a teary phone call from their child who decided to buy everyone in their block a jägerbomb and 3 VKs five nights in a row and is now living off a bag of onions and instant noodles until payday.
THINK OF YOUR PURSE ‘N’ GO IN PERSON
A lot of supermarkets will take deliveries as an excuse to get rid of nearly out of date stock; going to the shop yourself will allow you to find foods with the longest use by dates. Going shopping in the evening is a great idea too, because loads of food gets reduced.
If you do have to order online, think about doing it with a friend or flatmate; this way you won’t have to buy unneeded things in order to meet the minimum price to be delivered (usually £40). I stupidly bulked out my first Tesco delivery with fruit to make smoothies; only upon delivery did I realise that I’d left my blender at home.
WORK WORK WORK WORK WORK
If you’re someone that’s good at organising your time, you could consider getting a part-time job for a little extra spending money. Don’t take on more than you can manage though; many employers ask you to work a set number of hours every week and this could become problematic if you’ve suddenly got lots of work to do. I work 2 or 3 evening shifts a week as a waitress and this gives me enough time to get uni work done and go out with friends too, so it’s definitely doable!
However, the main reason you’re going to University is to get a good degree- don’t get a job if it’s going to stress you out and make you rush your assignments.
THINGS PEOPLE SAY YOU SHOULD DO THAT YOU SHOULD NOT DO:
-Make a budget before you get to uni: I started by telling myself not to spend over £30 a week and felt guilty for the whole of freshers because I exceeded it. Freshers is quite expensive (especially if you drink), but it’s so worth it for the fun you’ll have and the people you’ll meet. Even now, coming into my third semester, I do not stick religiously to a budget; some weeks will be cheaper than others so don’t beat yourself up when you spend more than you expected.
-Walk everywhere (thanks for that one Dad): The near-death experience I had walking back from my first Tesco shop with 2 bag for life’s and a backpack was not worth the £2 saved on a bus ticket. Treat yourself.
-Get the coach home: Okay, this one may not apply to everyone, but I’m 5’’10 and coaches are hell for me. It would also take me 6 and a half hours to get home compared with 3 on the train. I book my train tickets as far in advance as possible, use my railcard– GET A RAILCARD- and they work out as cheap as a coach.
-Get sucked into good-sounding deals: £360 for a 3 year Holywell membership is only a bargain if you don’t have a track record of crying whilst exercising.
Now you have all the tips you need to be a money-savvy student! But do treat yourself sometimes- uni is hard and you deserve it.