Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Student Life | Ways to Save Money at University

Students treasure every penny, let alone the £'s - so I thought I'd give some of my student tips to keep your pocket full (as full as a students pocket gets!) whether it's £1 or much more!

A little advice to Keele students - every £1 you save is one you can spend at the shot bar!

1. Take snacks to the library with you
When you're aiming to do some hardcore revision or finish up that blasted essay, you're likely to work through your usual food breaks, so instead of taking a trip to the shop and spending a few quid on a meal deal, take some lunch from home.

2. Share washes
Most students will understand the pains of using laundrettes, and I've always found it more convenient when I have a small load to pair up with someone who also doesn't have too much to wash. That way you'll half the cost and both of you have clean clothes! Alternatively, let your washing piling up for so long that you have plenty for a big wash (that's the way many of us did it, but mainly because we couldn't be bothered to do our washing). 

3. Avoid catching taxis unnecessarily
If the place you need to go is on a bus route, use the bus! If the weather's nice and it's in walking distance, walk! It's as simple as that. There's no need to catch taxis unless you've got a lot of luggage or the place you're going is a treck (by that I mean miles not minutes) from the bus stop - it'll save you pounds!

4. If you do catch a taxi, share it
Everyone knows sharing a taxi is the easiest way to save money, and I have before shared with a stranger (she was a very friendly girl from Russia) and saved myself £2.50. Just make sure everyone puts their part of the fare in!

5. Get a bus pass
In second and third year I lived in the town next to my uni which meant that I caught a bus to university three/four days a week. Rather than getting my usual £1.75 single student ticket (one way as students can't get a return) I bought a ten day ticket which saved me a few pound and some of my friends who caught the bus more frequently or had more to catch bought a 3 month pass. They're always ways of saving, even if it's not a lot!

6. Don't get roped into buying takeaways
You'll be surprised how much you can spend on takeaways as a student, there are some great deals but even Domino's 'Two for Tuesday' usually comes in over £20 - even between 4 of you that's still one expensive meal!

7. Cook from scratch
I'm not a huge fan of ready meals and believe they're a waste of money. Learn to cook and make yourself a lovely meal! You'll be surprised how much you can save by avoiding the ready meals!

8. Learn to freeze
When you're eyes are bigger than your belly, it's always best to freeze the leftovers and you can use it for another day, saving you having to fork out for another meal the next day.

9. Arrange cheap days out
Rather than splurging on a big day out so you're entertained for the day and end up spending £40 why not grab a few friends and all chip in a few quid for a picnic at the park, or a BBQ - especially when it's good weather. 

10. Never ever ever take your bank card on a night out
So you take a tenner in cash on a night out, you drink that down and you grab your bank card to drunkenly withdraw another ten pounds. We've all done it, right? But stop! You can save yourself so much money by leaving the bank card at home and limiting yourself to a small amount of cash - not only will your pocket thank you, your liver will too!

11. Voucher deals
Signing up to various restaurant mailing lists and also things like Groupon and Wowcher can save you loads of money on things for special occasions or just a treat!

12. Keep an eye out for alcohol deals
Most of the students I know can't bring themselves to buy the paint stripper named 'own brand vodka' so we still buy big(ish) brands (to be honest it's often still Glenn's or Russian Standard), but never at full price! It'll usually save you £2-£3 by keeping an eye out for the deals.

13. Find a shopping and cooking partner
I know many students who often eat due to boredom so if you partner up with a friend and all the food you have is food to share, you're less likely to pick at something that's not all yours. My shopping always comes to a cheaper total when I share with someone too, it's easier to plan what you cook and stick to it with a friend to share it with.

14. Which leads to...DO NOT impulse buy
You may not even know you're doing it, but when you sneak several cream eggs into your trolly because they were on a '2 for 1' deal you don't realise you've wasted money. How much did you really need those cream eggs? And how much money would you save if you took that cheeky bit of chocolate out? £1 or £2?

15. Look out for deals on meat
Meat is quite expensive, so look out for good offers on both fresh and frozen. Sainsbury's do a brilliant '3 for £10' offer which meant that this week I got pork chops, minced beef, and a whole chicken at £3.33 each. Buying them on this deal saved me £3.51. Morrison's do a similar deal and there's plenty of others around too!

16. Learn to portion correctly
Students will buy a 1kg bag of pasta for just over a pound and within 2 days half of it's already gone. We're rubbish at portions and I'm sure plenty of people can put their hand up and agree they are too. So I usually say a handful and a half of pasta per person usually does the job. Not needlessly debilitating your stocks will save you money on your next shop!

17. Avoid the yearly gym membership if you're never going to use it
If you use it, great! If you don't, stop kidding yourself. You can save over £100 by not buying a membership in the first place!

18.  Avoid the addiction of campus coffee breaks
If you don't have that 'before lecture coffee' on campus each morning you'll save yourself £1-£2 everyday! Instead, take a travel mug with coffee from home.

19. Dry your clothes in your room
Dryers are usually available in the laundrette but buying a clothes horse is a much better investment. Yeah, your room may smell like wet clothes and fabric softener for a few hours, but you've just saved yourself £1-£2! (be sure to keep the room well aired though!)

20. Don't waste money on big brand fizzy drinks
Okay yes, they do taste different to the cheap stuff but most brands these days tend to be really expensive, you can save yourself £1 or more by buying own brand fizzy drinks.

21. Get a soft drink with your burger at 'Spoons
The offer they give is amazing none the less, but buying a soft drink rather than a beer when you get a burger in Wetherspoon's can save you exactly £1.

22. Drink tap water
I drink about 2 - 3 litres of water a day these days so I never rely on buying bottled water when I'm out, unless I have a long day and have forgotten my trusty bottle in the first place! Buying a fresh bottle of water on campus everyday can total up to £5-£7 a week! So ditch it.

23. Don't buy into Graze boxes
Don't get me wrong, I love these ingenious little boxes and I originally suggested they'd be a fantastic idea to help you have nibbles rather than spending loads on snacks and I know many students who buy them. However, Graze boxes are expensive for only a few little nibbles. 

24. Go for the early bird
There's always a lot of events at Keele university and many, very gratefully, offer an early bird ticket with between £3-£5 off. So we always try our hardest to get in early to save those extra few pounds!

25. Hop on a mega bus
This is most definitely the way I've saved money since being at uni! Living in Cornwall, 307 miles away from Keele, it was costly to get back home. So I saved well over £20 - £30 travelling on the mega bus. Though some real creeps travel on it. I had a man try and stroke me from Birmingham to Bristol when there was a full coach and no seats to move to. It was a late night one too, so I didn't want to make a fuss and wake every one...he also typed out on his phone that he liked me. The only words spoken between us were me saying 'please stop stroking me' - so, yeah, just stay safe. 

26. Shop cheaply
I often buy from Primark and almost always shop in the sales. I'm not brand crazy which is helpful to my spending, so buying a £4 top in Primark beats spending £16 on a Hollister vest!

27. Do it yourself
I haven't tried it myself, but I know of many people who accessorise their own clothes by going to Haberdashery shops. So the difference between those plain wedges (that you can stick your own studs on) and those studded wedges, is £4 - £5! And you'll even have plenty of studs left over to redesign your next item!

28. Control your make-up splurging
I know how easy it is to want the best make up you can possibly buy, but I still stick to cheap make up so I don't feel guilty spending over £20 on something that I wipe off everyday! The current make up I use has saved me over £10 after switching from Maybelline.

29. In general, buy own brand in the supermarkets
I don't usually go for the 'saver' brands at supermarkets, but just their own brand affordable products. This tends to mean you save a few quid on your shop overall!

30. Make a meal plan
I've left this until last to keep you thinking! Many people I know go shopping with no idea what they're about to buy or are going to cook for the week and this is the easiest possible way to go overbudget by much more than just a £1, so make sure you meal plan and you can save much more than you think!

I hope my student saver tips are helpful, possibly to more than just students!
MissIsGoode

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