a guide to managing your money at university
When your loan starts to dry up and money becomes scarce, it can be tricky to adjust your budget. Here are some of my tips on how to make your money go further and make uni a bit less stressful (because we definitely don’t need any more of that!).
Go easy on society memberships
It can be really tempting to join loads of societies and think you’ll have time to do them all. What I’ve found is that it is better to invest more time in fewer societies than less time in lots. It’s good from a social aspect too as you’ll be spending more time with the same people, so you’ll get to know them better!
You could just use the outdoors for a workout. Uni gym memberships can be cheap, really cheap, but it is still money being spent; and if it’s not going to be used, what’s the point? If you’re only going to use the treadmill then maybe skip the membership and run around the local park.
If you’re taking any kind of public transport then make sure you have the appropriate discount cards. For trains, there is the 16-25 railcard which gets you up to 1/3 off the full ticket price (this has saved me hundreds of pounds!). For longer journeys home, there is the Young Persons Coachcard for National Express coaches, and make the Megabus your best friend. It’s also worth buying your tickets about a month in advance for the best prices. If you like a bit of luxury on trains they sometimes sell 1st class tickets for only a few pounds more – on Virgin trains, this gets you a free meal and lots of free snacks!
maximise your Bank Account
Look out for freebies and good overdraft options when opening a student bank account. Santander offers students a free 4-year railcard, and Nationwide and Natwest offer a £20 Amazon voucher and free Amazon Prime for a year. My recommendation, however, is the Barclays Student Account – they’re offering three free online textbooks with Campus Books, saving you over £100. That means more money for Red Stripe and takeaways – winning.
I could write a whole article about jobs, but my number one tip is to get a job with a zero-hour contract if possible. This is just my preference, but often they don’t require experience and mean that you are not tied to work any number of hours – you’re freed up during holidays or during those weeks when uni work is getting a bit hectic! The only downfall to this is that the company is not obliged to give you hours either, so if you really rely on this money then working specific hours may be better for you.
relax once in a while
In saying all of the above, my top tip is actually not to get too wrapped up in saving money. Of course, budgeting is good, but I have seen in loads of my friends that focusing too much on saving money can dampen their experiences when they do actually spend it. Try not to be too restrictive – you have to have some fun in your life, and sometimes that means spending a bit of cash!