The old saying “save your money for a rainy day” cannot be more relevant to the current cost of living crisis. Budget planning and money saving are probably some of the most useful skills that students need to adapt to the current cost of living crisis. Every possible item on the market has gone up in price – meaning most of the things we love to do are now possibly a financial burden. For those of you who want to figure out a way to still enjoy university despite the increasing costs, I’ve compacted a list of tips from university students who have mastered the “very difficult” art of saving money. Here are the non-exhaustive tips and life hacks on successfully saving some cash whilst at university:
Okay, so apparently you need to budget. Some of the university students I have surveyed have emphasised the importance of budgeting. Having a set weekly budget allows you to “plan out your finances”. If you are serious about saving money, having a set budget every week or month will give you an overview of what you can spend money on, and in turn, what you can’t really spend on. So for example, if you can’t be bothered to meal prep that week, if your budget allows some room, you know that you have some extra cash to treat yourself that week.
On the topic of budgeting, knowing when you can use your student ID card, surprisingly, saves a notable amount of money. It may not be much, but in the long run, it will allow you to have extra cash that you would not have had otherwise. The Uni Days app notifies you of any place that offers student discounts. However, this can also be a trap. You should aim to use the app when you do plan on having a shop, but try not to let it encourage you to shop, which would basically defeat the whole purpose of this article. Make sure the application is muted so these notifications do not entice you to buy things you don’t actually need. So, use it wisely.
The power of the meal prep
This is probably the most underrated one. I highly recommend this one because it is the number one saver. One student stated, “Meal prepping allows you to avoid spending the ‘invisible pounds’ which you don’t realize are making you broke”. Yes, spending money on food you could have made at home is spending ‘the invisible pounds’. These pounds are what cause you to be a little confused when you look at your bank account at the end of the week. Ever since I started meal prepping, I noticed how much more money I have. For those of you who are not the best cooks, you can head to Costco. They make big meals for 10 pounds or under that could last you a week. Some of these meals include lasagne, biryani, and even chicken. For those who are willing to dive into the meal prep life, the way to do it is to cook your favourite meal in bulk, whatever it may be, divide it into containers, and pop them in your freezer. Campus is filled with microwaves so you will be able to eat your meal at uni. Of course, there is nothing wrong with buying food on campus every once in a while, but doing it every day is bound to leave you with no money for anything else. So hop on the lifestyle, I know you want to.
Clubbing and Pub-ing
Ah yes, the quintessential activity that unites university students and makes the university experience that much fun. I am not the best to advise on this, which is why we have handy university students who had a lot to say about clubbing sucking out your money. One student stated that if you like to go clubbing, “Make sure you have a set day, and try to do it once or twice a week”, okay who knew too much clubbing can waste money? You probably did, which is why a third-year student stated that “You need to pre very healthy” and “Cancel the apple pay at the club already”. This will prevent you from having to pay for overpriced drinks at the club. Having sober nights is not always a bad idea, but if you do insist on drinking, make sure it’s done at home more than it is at the club or pub. If you need a clubbing ticket, make sure it’s not from a re-seller.
Some life hacks and extra tips
If you are a coffee lover, I would recommend making your coffee at home. It only takes five minutes to make your own but saves you at least 15 pounds a week. If you do end up having to buy it from campus, get your mug or cup, and order a small version. Your cup is probably bigger than the small cup at Nero or Starbucks, so you get more coffee (maybe a large one) for the price of a small one. I always do this whenever I have to buy coffee. It has saved me loads. Every pound counts in this crisis. Other non-coffee tips include shutting the lights and heater when you are not using them. Make sure this is a collective house effort and not just you. For more extreme hardships, the university offers “hardship funds” for those who are experiencing financial hardship: you can find them here: https://www.warwicksu.com/help-support/money/hardshipfunds/