Ever since I made these videos for my A Thrifty Mrs YouTube channel about going off to university I've had students and those looking at going to university nexy year dropping me emails asking for more advice. Finances and the types of educational institutions you may be studying at will vary but a common factor seems to be - most students have to deal with their finances for the first time and it can be a big shock. Plus it is oh so easy to make mistakes. I should know!
With increased fees, lack of jobs and a student rent hike of 25% in some areas, clawing every penny back and not landing oneself in too much debt is an important subject for 2012. Here are a few tips from me.
1. Your loan is not free money
So many people, at the time of receipt, see their loan almost as free money. Hurrah a chunk of money has gone into your bank account and it is time to go crazy. Stop and think. Your loan is a loan not free money.
In a few years time you may be working in some crappy job, unrelated to your degree and the student finance folks will be taking money from your pay packet every month. Do you want to buy that £45 top which you won't remember in 6 months or do you want to use it for books, rent and food? You have to pay that money back, think about it when you're spending it. I wish I had, I really hate paying back money for bloody maroon knee high boots. Oh 2004.
2. Don't eat out - learn to cook
Eating out bumps up the price of every meal you eat significantly. Learn to cook a few basics really well and then adapt with time. Make great big portions so you can freeze some and have leftovers for a packed lunch. Great recipes to learn are -
- spag bol - which you can adapt into chilli, burritos, tacos and lasagna with a few small changes.
- a basic veggie curry - play around with spices and serve with rice, pittas or cous cous.
- soups - start with basic tomato soup and work your way through cheap seasonal vegetables.
3. Make use of your university city
Whilst it is really easy to get into the swing of the student lifestyle it can be great to step outside of the same cycle and try spots elsewhere in the city in order to save some money.
- Sign up and utlise the local library. Whilst that very much needed book may be out of stock in your uni library save your cash, you don't have to buy it, it may well be available in the local or main city library.
- Buy from local markets, especially when it comes to food. You'll find great seasonal basics and you can even try a cheeky haggle.
- Take advantage of the free museums, galleries and parks if you're looking for entertainment. The local museums and galleries in my university city often hosted free evening events, sometimes they even had free wine.
4. Walk or cycle
Getting into lectures can eat up a big chunk of your budget. Public transport isn't cheap and cars come with more costs than I can name. Walk or cycle to your lectures, it is great free excersise and a bit of head space from hangovers and lecture notes. Sure, everyone may be catching the bus or train but just keep in mind how much money you'll be saving.
If you don't have a bike try eBay or even Freecycle.
5. Make friends with Excel
This sounds so damn boring but if I'm honest nothing else has helped me deal with my finances better than noting down everything I spend. It is pretty simple. Open up Excel and have a column for incoming money and one for outgoing and make sure you update it every single time you spend or recieve money. Students have a reputation for being irresponsible but why live up to it? A quick update of your excel sheet takes less than 30 seconds can keep you on track so you don't end up drowning in the debt the day you finally get your degree.
This post is written as part of the Student Survival Guide with Vouchercodes.co.uk
P.S. If you have any basic tips which will help students now that they are firmly back into the swing of things they do feel free to leave them down below in the comments. And students - do have a read of the comments because my readers have some genius tricks and tips.