Now that you have settled into uni life having made friends and partied hard during the first few weeks, many of you will be terrified to check the outstanding balance on your credit card. Too many shots of Sambuca at the clubs, too many late night snacks or too much shopping, whatever your poison, that bank statement is something you just want to run and hide from. Here are five tips on how to save money as a university student:
Keep track of your money and expenses
The most important tip when it comes to saving money is to keep track of it. By categorizing your expenses and your loans/earnings/grants into easily manageable programmes such as Excel or HomeBudget you will have an idea of how much you are spending every week/month, what items you buy repeatedly as well as an overview of where your money is going.
Pick the right brand
A major factor in the money saving process is food shopping. £1 here and £2 there will add up to a substantial amount over the year. Even something as simple as picking an in-store brand over the high-end labels can save you a good amount. You will get the same type of product at a much lower price and you will not have to pay for all the extra marketing and packaging it comes with. Because that is the reality in most cases; you pay more to make the exterior of your food look more appealing.
Buy in bulk and meal prep
Always buy in bulk and plan your meals ahead. Plan out your meals a week at a time and try to go grocery shopping once a week. Going into the shops with a specific shopping list makes it easier to avoid picking up random impulse buys. It will also save time as you can head straight for what you need instead of aimlessly wandering the aisles. As far as your freezer, fridge and cabin space allows it, buy your products in bulk. A bag of 500g of rice might be £1 while a bag of 5 kg might not be more than £4.50. Items such as rice, pasta, canned vegetables and spices are cheaper to buy in bulk and the same goes for protein.
One of the best tips you will ever get while in university is to pre-drink. It is not a secret that university students like to drink. It is also not a secret that if you go out three to four times a week and buy a ton of drinks in the clubs, you will be living on beans and toast for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next three months. Pre-drinking is not only cheaper, it is a great way to socialize, catch up, and make new friends.
To save the most money on academic books try to take advantage of the different resources you have available. If you need a certain book for one particular assignment, try the library before buying it. For the courses where it is mandatory that you have your own edition try to find a second-hand copy. There might be some highlighted parts and some slight writing in it, but the price will often be half of what a new edition would cost.