University is such a whirlwind that you forget about money along the way. You’re too busy going to events, making friends, joining societies and inevitably trying to catch up on studying that you don’t have time to think about budgeting.
I only realised that I should have started budgeting when it got to the end of the year and my bank account was already looking very sad. So, since it’s coming up to my second year of university I thought I’d share the ways I’ve learnt to save money so you can spend less money on the boring stuff and more on the important things like Netflix, snacks, clothes and alcohol…
Stop Buying Food on Campus
It’s always expensive and I know the temptation of getting a Starbucks on your way to your lecture and a Subway on your way back is hard to resist but it will save you so much money! Making your lunch at home and taking a coffee with you is probably the way I saved the most amount of money. When sandwiches got boring and I started craving the fajita place on campus then I just found a cheap recipe for making my own version! So, resist it and buy a flask and give yourself an extra 5 minutes to make some lunch every day.
Don’t Bother Buying the ‘Essential’ Course Books
They’re not essential. At the start of the year you’ll be given a long list of all the books you need to buy for your modules but you will get to the end of the year and realise you’ve only opened one of them. They’re a waste of money when pretty much all of them will be available in the library to borrow for free if you do need them at some point. Save yourself the cash and ignore the lecturers that tell you to buy them. But, if you do really want to buy a couple of them…
Buy the Books Second Hand
At full price, all of these books are normally a ridiculous price, so if you do think you’ll get a lot of use out of a few of them then find a place to buy them second hand. Your university will probably have a Facebook group page where people are selling their books for a much better price or if in doubt, check Ebay or Amazon which is where I got a couple of mine from.
Don’t Buy Loads of Really Nice Clothes
Don’t do what we all did and buy a load of nice, expensive clothes at the start of term to wear for lectures and clubbing because you’ll soon realise that you’ll spend most of the day in pyjamas or loungewear.
Comfy clothes are a uni essential, even to lectures and the library people often don’t dress up and clubbing attire turns into jeans and trainers with a nice top pretty quickly. Spending all your money on new outfits that you’ll barely wear will turn out to be a waste of time, buy yourself a load of new pyjamas and joggers instead.
Find a Cheaper Supermarket
Don’t be lazy, walk an extra 10 minutes to get to a better and cheaper supermarket than your local Tesco Express or Spa. The supermarkets nearest to campus are often really expensive, so either walk for a bit longer to get to an Aldi or somewhere similar (honestly, Aldi became my best friend) or start doing online orders with your flatmates.
Take advantage of deals and discounts, all those £1 and 2 4 1 items start to add up eventually.
Stop Buying Branded Alcohol
Opt for the supermarket own-brand alcohol instead. It’s exactly the same and so, so much cheaper! Unless you’re really into alcohol, once it’s mixed with something else you will not taste the difference between Asda own-brand and Smirnoff and it literally saves you almost £10 every time!
Buy Tickets for Events Early
It’s always a lot cheaper to buy your club tickets or event tickets straight away when they go on sale, so try and have a bit of a plan and figure out which ones you want to go to early on to save yourself a few pounds.
Don’t Buy Drinks in a Club
They’re overpriced and probably watered down so just drink at pres in your flat/house before you go out or in a bar instead.
You need one in your life. If you switch to certain student bank accounts then you can get one for free and it gets you 1/3 off all your train tickets which seriously makes a huge difference if you get the train regularly.
Don’t Overdo your Washing
It’s easy to just throw in a half-full load of washing every few days so you always have your favourite t-shirt or because you keep running out of socks but try to wait until you actually have a full load before you do it.
The laundry rooms at your accommodation are EXPENSIVE and are almost always faulty. Most of ours either didn’t work or swallowed your money so you had to pay twice. I ended up just buying double the amount of socks so that I didn’t have to do laundry as often and it saved me so much time and money.
Forget About the Tumble Dryer
They’re normally more expensive than the washing machines and you can just hang your clothes on a clothing rack in your flat and you’ll cut your spending on washing by half instantly.
Sites like UniDays or NUS Cards can end up saving you so much money when you go shopping online or in-store. Some shops even give you money off for just showing your university ID card!
Supermarket Loyalty Cards
I missed out on this for my first term and instantly regretted it. With the amount of food shopping you’ll do, points on these cards add up very quickly and the moment you get £5 or however much off your next shop is honestly the best feeling, as sad as that may sound.
Don’t Get a Credit Card
You will regret it. Stick with a debit card. It’s easier to manage your money that way and you don’t have to worry about paying anything back because you accidentally bought too much when you were online shopping instead of concentrating in your lecture.
Get Microsoft Office for Free
Pretty much all universities offer a code that gets you Microsoft office for free on your laptop for the whole time you’re at uni and it makes such a difference. Microsoft is expensive so take advantage of it being free while you can!
Don’t Get the Bus
Unless it’s free. But if it’s not then walk or cycle to campus every day. It’s cheaper and it’s actually nice to walk sometimes since most of your day is spent sitting down.
When I started doing this it was a life-saver. Whenever I’d cook I’d make way more portions than I needed and froze them so that I always had relatively healthy meals ready to eat on the days when I didn’t feel like cooking. It means that you won’t be tempted to go and buy an expensive ready meal or takeaway which will save you a lot of money in the long run even if you’re craving it at the time.
When You Start Looking for Your 2nd Year House…
Get bills included if you can. It saves money, time, energy and arguments. Often the bills that are included are unlimited so you don’t have to worry about one person using too much hot water or whether you should put the heating on yet. It’s so much less hassle and will make moving into your new house so much easier and less stressful.
Lastly, Get a Part-Time Job
I saved this one until last because it’s not really a way to save money, it’s more about making money. But, if you have a few spare hours in your week then consider getting a job on campus or somewhere nearby because an extra bit of money in your bank is never a bad thing. Even if you only do one or two shifts a week it will give you a bit of extra money to help you out on the days where you want to treat yourself.
You don’t have to come back from university with no money or spend the year stressing about how much you’re spending if you learn the easy ways you can budget without having to think about it too much. I figured all this out way too late so I hope that this might help some of you to save money instead of wasting most of it in your first term like I did, whoops! You live and you learn, right?
What are your best tips to save money at university?
Similar posts in Uni Life: