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The do’s and don’ts of spending money at university

For many students, coming to university is an expensive choice and knowing the debt that is associated with it is a worrying prospect for all. When you arrive however, it really is up to you to manage how you spend your maintenance loan or cash and trust me, if you’re not careful, it dwindles away a lot quicker than you think! As a finalist, I have come up with some of the do’s and don’ts I would have wanted to know as a fresher when it comes to saving money so read on to find out how to ensure you don’t run out of money sooner than you would like!

 

Do

  • Cook with others – if you’re lucky enough to have great sociable people in your flat, I suggest having a flat dinner rota as buying for one is much more expensive in the long run, especially due to food waste!
  • If that’s not for you then buy in bulk and then freeze your leftovers- not only will it come in handy on a day when you can’t be bothered to cook but it will also save you lots of money.
  • If living off campus, bring a pack lunch- campus food is extremely expensive (a sandwich, coke and snack can cost over £8 at the library!) so make your own sandwich/salad because it saved me over £150 during exam season alone!
  • Try the home brand of some products- some swaps are not okay (cheap toilet paper for example- very snobby when it comes to my Andrex) but others like Tesco home-brand bread is just as good as a loaf from Hovis!
  • Student discounts- obviously don’t use it as a reason to spend but always double check either with NUS cards and Unidays. You never know when you might be able to get that sweet 10% of your purchase!
  • Food shop in the evenings- the time of this is a little variable but it tends to be around 6pm at Canley Tesco when they mark down their prices- give it a go because I really did snag some bargains in my first year.
  • Get loyalty club cards – I have a Morrisons card for Leam but had a club-card for Tesco’s in first year- they really are worth it because it gets you money off (Morrisons) or gives you points to get things like 18-25 railcards for free (Tesco).
  • Only take cash on a night out (or Uni ID if at an SU event)- it really stops you overspending on drinks (as well as stopping drunk you offering to buy rounds for everyone).
  • Do activities at non-peak hours- this I found out too late but bowling in Leam is only £7 for three games on a Sunday evening!
  • Eat veggie twice a week-  you really don’t realise how expensive meat is before you get to uni.

 

Don’t

  • Shop at Rootes if you can help it– It is SO overpriced (especially for alcohol)- just walk to Aldi and Tesco, they really aren’t that far away.
  • If you’re living off campus, don’t just go with the big-name providers like British Gas – always look for the cheapest provider (you can use comparethemarket.com) as you could end up slashing your bill in half.
  • Don’t shop when you’re hungry- you will come back with rubbish you don’t need that will end up in your cupboard for the rest of the year.
  • Buy the course book new of Amazon – as a humanities student I dread if I have to buy lots of books for my course because they’re usually £20 or more so check Google scholar and Google books first as they might have it free online. If not, see if you can buy it second hand from a charity shop in Leam/Cov as many students donate them when they finish university.
  • Get a taxi – UBER came to campus just as I finished first year so use them instead because £25 for a trip to Leam is extortionate.
  • Don’t get sucked in by the Dominoes student offers that they thrust at you in fresher’s week- they really aren’t cheap so think of them as a treat, not a back-up dinner.

Despite all of these suggestions, university is one of the best times of your life so save where you can so you don’t have to miss out because FOMO really is a thing.

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