Living life on a student budget isn’t always easy. And let’s face it, when it comes to the time your student loan starts running out, it can be tricky trying to keep things in balance.
You have to answer some of the big questions in life such as ‘Should I really spend my last £20 in the world on a bottle of Jack Daniels and entry to the worst club in the city?’ If your head is screwed on tighter than that unopened bottle of JD - congrats. But if you need a push in the right penny-saving direction, you came to the right place. Here are 10 ways to rein in your budget this year and make sure you’re spending less.
Keep track of your spending
When you’ve just gone OTT in Waitrose because Lidl just wasn’t your vibe today, the last thing you want to do is write down where your money went. But if you want to get money-wise this year, that’s exactly what you should do.
Make a spreadsheet of all your incoming money (part-time job/student loan/money from the parents) and then make a note of your essential outgoings. That way you can figure out exactly how much you can afford to spend each month without going OTT.
Buy your course books second hand
We know you would rather spend your money on takeaways and triple shots but as a student there is some expenditure you can’t avoid. You can make surprisingly big savings by harassing the people in the year above you on Facebook for their hand-me-down textbooks rather than hitting Amazon or the bookstore and buying them for yourself.
If you strike really lucky, someone might pass it on to you for free. Even better, you might find a free PDF online.
Make the most of that student discount
Everywhere you shop, make sure you ask about student discount offers. Make sure your Spotify is hooked up to your student account and for the love of the money Gods don’t spend a penny on ASOS without using the Uni Days app. Just try not to go overboard, yeah? It’s not a saving anymore if it means you buy three pairs of trainers instead of one.
If you’re in a big university city, chances are you don’t need a car. So leave that expense with the rest of your worries in your small semi-rural hometown. Walk as much as you can, it’ll save money on buses and taxis – or make like our Dutch neighbors and get on your bike.
If you’ve got a special someone in another city we bet train prices are slowly eating away at your bank balance. If so, make sure you’ve got a 16-25 rail card. It’s £30 for a year but trust us, the savings are more than worth it.
Don’t overspend in supermarkets
Easier said than done when you’re faced with Tesco’s ‘on offer’ section we know. But try and take it easy in the supermarket. Figure out some staple cheap recipes and head to the shops with a strict list in hand. And for goodness sake don’t stalk down the aisles with a rumbling tummy.
The Jaffa cakes stand no chance.
Save money on stationary
It might sound simple but why spend money on piles of notebooks and pens when you have a laptop? Make all your notes digitalized and avoid the faff of carrying books around as well as the expense of constantly heading to Rymans for a top up on supplies.
Swap summer holidays for volunteering or jobs abroad
Planning a road trip around Europe this summer with your gap yah friends would be admittedly incredible but it would also be incredibly pricey. So why not combine your holiday with a skill you can put on your LinkedIn?
Summer camps across Europe hire students to take on seasonal work over the summer. Brush up on your Italian while you teach kids to wakeboard on the Med or flirt with the local French while you help with the day-to-day running of a campsite.
Invest in a thermal flask
We love a coconut latte from Pret as much as the next person but if you’re trying to be spending-savvy this year then avoiding buying coffee outside the house is a pretty great place to start.
Buying one coffee for £2.50 a day works out at almost a grand a year – madness! So make yourself up a flask in the mornings to take to uni with you. Your mum will be proud.
Keep your tech basic
It’s not what you want to hear but going for the cheaper phone package, even if it means you end up with a Huawei over the latest iPhone could save you big money over the course of the year. Find the cheapest plan you can get that meets your technological needs and save the flashy stuff for post-grad life.
Even if the rose gold Macbook air is the perfect match with the necklace your granny got you for Christmas, buying a refurb or staying away from Apple altogether could save you big bucks.
Split your costs
You and your housemates are all in the same student-budgeted-boat so help each other stay afloat. It could mean taking it in turns to make evening meals and splitting the costs or it could just mean sharing a Netflix account.
Once you start thinking more about where your money is going, the rest will come and you’ll figure out your own techniques for keeping costs low. 2019 is the year you sort your budgeting – but don’t forget to treat yourself every now and then too. After all, what’s uni life without the occasional indulgent spend!