Being a student is an expensive business. It is also probably the first time in your life that you have had to completely fend for yourself, and you suddenly realise how difficult it is to be responsible with your money. I can guarantee you that if you haven’t already, you will go a little crazy on the spending with your sudden freedom from living at home, only to go food shopping and have a little cry in the fridge aisle at the price of a block of cheese.
Whether you are just starting university and haven’t got much experience yet, or are a couple of years in and still haven’t got the skill down, here are some tips for how you can spend a little bit less (and leave yourself with more to have FUN with). . .
1) Loyalty cards for supermarkets – if you drive, you can also swipe them when paying for petrol
Sure, it usually takes quite a while to actually save up enough points to get any money off, especially when you are just shopping for one, but you are buying the food anyway and it isn’t making any difference whatsoever. It’s silly not to.
2) Walk that extra bit further to get to an Aldi or Lidl
The amount of money that you can save by going to Aldi or Lidl if you have one near you is crazy. I had never been to one before moving to Glasgow because it’s not convenient at all to get to one where I’m from, and I remember being so shocked at how ridiculously cheap everything is without skimping too much on quality. In fact, there are a lot of things that I actually prefer the Aldi version of. When I bring my overflowing basket to the checkout, it never adds up to as much as I estimate in my head.
3) Invest in a good travel mug and take your coffee with you from home
Shops like TK Maxx are perfect for these kind of things, and so are little coffee shops around your campus. Those double-walled ones are great because they keep your drink warm so long and you can sip away the whole lecture. The same goes for bringing a water bottle with you! (And you’ll save all those sea turtles while you are at it)
4) Or, if you really must buy a coffee out somewhere, still bring your own re-usable cup with you
Most places now give a discount if your bring your own, so if you are buying it regularly, this little saving will really add up. Places SHOULD also fill your water bottle with tap water for free if bring it with you and ask very nicely.
5) Free Microsoft Office
Don’t pay for your Microsoft Word package! Students can get the full Office package through their university. Just search ‘Microsoft Office student’ and log in using your student log in.
6) Batch cook and freeze into portions
You can also save money by cooking larger portions of whatever you are having for dinner and putting the rest in the freezer in portion-sized boxes. I like to use little random boxes like plastic takeaway ones for this because they are the perfect size. Batch cooking means that you can often use up all of your ingredients rather than them going off if you cook it for just one dinner. I particularly enjoy this cheesy broccoli pasta bake. I use frozen broccoli instead of fresh broccoli because you never need it all, and it tastes just as good.
7) Charity shops
They aren’t like the ones in your tiny little hometown. Charity shops in cities are goldmines for amazing bargains, whether it is clothes or little knickknacks for your room.
8) Don’t buy food out after the club
Stock up on the types of things that taste delicious when you have some alcohol in your system (I’m talking chicken burgers, mozzarella sticks, the works) and just wait till you get home after a night out to cook them rather than spending a fortune while you are out and then not eating half of it because you ordered a ridiculous amount that sounded like a great idea at the time. Of course, safety first please!!! I have the scars on my arm to prove that oven trays are very warm things to drop onto yourself when you are too drunk to be cooking!!! NO COOKING IF YOU ARE TOO WRECKED. LEARN FROM MY BAD BAD CHOICES.
9) Book bloggers: ARCs are your friend!
Sure, this only works if you have the time to write the review on them too and do all the work that comes along with review copies, but it will probably satisfy your craving for reading anything but your course reading list.
10) Flat money jar
My flatmate and I have the perfect system for buying shared items for the flat, such as milk, toothpaste, and anything else that we don’t need two of at any time. We keep a jar in the kitchen and both put the same amount of money in, e.g. £20 each or whatever we can afford at the time, and any time either of us buy a shared item we take the money back out the jar for it. This means that we are halving the price equally each time, and neither one of us can end up buying more of the shared things than the other if we try and fail to do it evenly. And no chasing people for half the cash! It would seem silly to ask them for 50p for half the milk, but if you were the one that kept buying it, it would really add up. As long as you both (or all, I’m saying both because I live with just one other person) always put in the same amount whenever it needs topped up, it’s the fairest and cheapest way to do it.
I hope this helps! If you have any money-saving tips of your own, whether you are a student or not, please feel free to share them below.