Going off to university for the first time is difficult to adjust to: new friends, new studies and new responsibilities. For many students, having a healthy bank balance is difficult to maintain especially with the temptation of spending the whacking great lump of money from the loan company and the absence of nagging parents. It’s easy to be misguided and splurge on all the things you always wanted, but if you want to preserve those pennies for a little longer, an experienced student scrimper is here to help.
1. One of the best things to do to save money is to work together with your kitchen-mates. Try to buy things like frozen vegetables and chips collectively and also try to cook together. To make a curry for one or two can be quite expensive, but split between 10 it can end up only being around 50p per person.
2. Avoid Costcutter Binge-buys: Costies is very convenient but also highly dangerous. It offers all the staple food at higher prices as well as hearty ready meals which always look appealing when you are under essay deadlines. This is neither good for bank nor belly as your waistline increases whilst your bank balance decreases. When you are feeling a bit down/lazy/hungover, it is so easy to pop into Costies with the simple aim of getting a sandwich and some milk. But, inevitably, you will always end up having bought what you came for and additionally Maryland chocolate-chip cookies, Cherry Lambrini and Heat magazine. This is fact. By the end of my first year I was on autopilot in Costcutters and would buy all of the above plus crap magazines like “Love it!,” hardly realising what was going on.
3. Go to Tesco/Iceland/Wilkinsons. Although it is a bit more effort, try to make a proper shopping list and toddle off to Canon Park with your suitcase. Though this may sound weird, using your suitcase saves struggling with thousands of plastic bags which will, true to sod’s law, always break during bad weather – or when filled with bottles. Also, avoid going shopping when you are hungry as you will revert back to binge-buying and will end up with the same Maryland cookies, Cherry Lambrini and Heat magazine that you tried to avoid in Costies. Another tip is to try to pre-plan your meals and only go food shopping twice a week as then you can really use up all your sauces/milk etc and make sure you don’t waste any food.
4. If you haven’t already got one, get an Argos Starter Pack. The set is around £30 and contains pots, pans, cutlery and re-sealable containers. The Tupperware style containers are an absolute godsend, and perfect for portion control. There are also similar student starter packs at Tesco and Sainsburys now too.
5. Buy a stew pot. One of the cheapest and easiest things to do is to go to Tesco and buy 2 or 3 of the 99p stew pack sets and some extra beans and potatoes. Add a stock cube and some salt and you can make 7 or 8 meals worth on a Sunday night and freeze/ refrigerate portions for later in the week. This costs around £5 to make but can save a lot of time and money.
6. Try not to buy ready made food. Instead of buying expensive pasta sauces, you can invest in a tub of Oregano and then weekly get some cheap Passata and mix to have a cheaper and healthier sauce for pasta. The only ‘ready made’ food that is really worth it, are frozen vegetables as they are very cheap and quick in the micro-wave.
7. Freshers Festival pass. Freshers Festival is most likely to be the most mental two weeks you have ever had (unless your sixth-form really was like ‘Skins‘); you do not want to miss out. So, instead of just pitching up in a stupor and paying for entry and drinks every night, get the Freshers pass and have some drinkies at home. Not only good for your finances but good for kitchen bonding too. But don’t bond too much, copping off with your neighbour in the October of the 1st year doesn’t bode well for the rest of university; Warwick is a surprisingly small place…
8. If you are going for a night out in Leamington Spa and fancy a curry, go to Millennium Balti as a bottle of wine is around £2 and a delicious Korma or Tikka Masala is only around £8 with rice and a Naan bread. Wetherspoons is another staple favourite for its cheap steak and curry nights and bargainous cocktails. There is also the Phantom Coach, which is about 5 minutes away from Westwood which has cheap food and the cheapest beer in the area to boot. If you are also into alternative and rock music, there is a club in Coventry called the Coliseum which has insanely cheap deals on shots and is only about £3 to get in with a student card. Sometimes the Offbeat society runs coaches directly there.
9. [www.studentbeans.com](http://www.studentbeans.com). By registering to this website, you can get coupons for cheaper bowling evenings, days out to theme parks, money off haircuts and cinema tickets. It’s free to register and well worth it.
10. Warwick Film Soc. For a pound a viewing it is the cheaper way to watch (fairly!) new films, and they often show some great classics too. About once a term, they usually hold sleepover nights where you can wear your pyjamas and snuggle down to watch some great films.
11. Always ask for student discounts. Some companies have student discount programs but don’t necessarily advertise them. At the Slug and Lettuce chain for example, you can get a special card that gets up to 20% off all food (gratis), you just have to ask! Other companies like New Look, Dorothy Perkins, Burton, Topshop and HMV also offer 10-15% discounts.
12. Buy and sell online. In my second year I got almost £100 from selling random clothes and old books on eBay. You can also advertise to buy and sell books from students in other year groups. This is obviously a lot cheaper than buying them new and you usually get the added bonus of old notes in the books as well; very handy for essay writing!
13. I know this is boring, but avoid the Jeremy from Peep Show attitude, and actually read your bank statements , putting them away safe in an A4 file or something too. If you don’t read and keep them, it’s easy for delusions of grandeur/the baliffs to take over.
14. If you are looking for a cheaper way to travel, the Megabus runs from Canon Park (which is just behind the campus) and has deals to London and sometimes other cities for £1! Check out the website for more details.
15. Another boring suggestion, but in your first and second years you really can balance studies enough to have a part-time job. Registering with Unitemps (www.unitemps.co.uk) is a fantastic idea because they offer flexible part-time work at local shops, and also opportunities to work for just a day or two at selected events and locations. The pay is also pretty good with an average of £6.50 an hour. If you are just looking for holiday and summer work, Unitemps can also help but there are other websites like www.e4s.co.uk that offer internship and holiday work to get you some extra cash.
These 15 tips are sure-fire ways to help you save some money and even if you don’t use all of them, taking a few on board will definitely help you avoid the inevitable looming overdraft. If you don’t use any of them -which I’m sure is 95% the case – then you will inevitably end up spending your year as a panicky undernourished mess, wearing impulse bought expensive clothes, with black circles under your eyes from partying ‘til 3am and living off a diet of 8p noodles, pesto and Coco Pops. But at least you’ll have fun doing it.