The average university student in the UK does not have plenty of money to work with. Once students get the money from their student loans, they typically spend most of that just paying off their tuition fees and housing expenses. On top of that, students will also have to purchase items for classes and lastly, they will need to get some household items for their new place of residence.
If a student ends up with enough money to buy some new clothes and a nice meal, it can be considered a minor miracle.
There’s a reason why there are so many jokes made about university students being broke. That’s because many of the people making those jokes know exactly what it was like going through university while needing to be mindful of every little thing they spend money on.
To be clear though, university students don’t have to be constantly scrounging around for money. By adopting certain habits and taking full advantage of the discounts offered to them, students can turn the loan they receive into something that can sustain them for an extended period of time.
1. Always account for everything you’re spending
One surefire way to spend beyond your means is to lose track of how much money you actually have. You may be planning to grab a bite to eat at night thinking you still have enough money in your pocket for a sandwich and then you reach down and find out you’re way short. Things like that tend to happen if you don’t keep track of where you’re spending your money, and it’s an issue you’re going to run into time and time again if you don’t start accounting for your own expenses.
Grab your smartphone and open up a note-taking app. List down everything you buy and be diligent with your accounting. Doing this will also give you a better idea of how you can cut down better on your spending because you are fully aware of your habits.
2. Create a realistic daily budget
After you’ve figured out your spending patterns and have also worked out how much money you spend on an average day, it’s time to use that information to your advantage. Create a budget based on the average amount of money you spent while you were recording your expenses. The reason why you want to base it on that is because it’s already been proven that you can get by with that amount of money in your pocket.
If possible, try to make your new budget lower than the amount you spent on a daily basis, but not drastically so. Those small savings will pile up over time, and they’ll give you something to draw from when something unexpected comes up.
3. Invest in an NUS Extra Card
The National Union of Students’ Extra Card is a good thing to invest in for university students in the UK. This handy little card grants you discounts at a wide range of stores and that includes restaurants.
4. Use your NUS Extra Card to grab cheap meals at restaurants
Let’s be honest, there will be days when you just won’t be up for cooking because you’re too tired from doing all your coursework or extracurricular activities. Going to bed hungry is obviously not an option so the best way to combat your hunger at that point is to get a quick meal somewhere.
The good news is that the NUS Extra Card entitles you to discounts at several restaurants. According to BirminghamLive, restaurants that will provide students with discounted meals include ASK Italian, Domino’s, Giraffe, Krispy Kreme, Pizza Hut, and YoSushi. Students can also get medium fries together with either a Big Mac or McChicken Sandwich at McDonald’s if they have the NUS Extra Card.
5. Cook filling dishes as much as you ca
As mentioned above, there will definitely be those times when cooking will prove to be too much of a hassle, but there’s no denying that saving money is simply easier if you whip up your own meals as opposed to eating out or getting takeaway.
Focus on cooking dishes that can fill you up in a hurry. Stews are great because you can extend them with vegetables. Even when the pieces of meat are all gone, you can still use bread to soak up the remaining broth. Also, try to make those meals that can be stored in a refrigerator so that you can take them out on a later date, microwave them, and then eat right away.
6. Take advantage of the available tech deals
Laptops are essential items for university students and there are ways to save up on them too. For new students who don’t own a laptop just yet or need their old replaced, they can go to an HP store or one that sells their products. According to Top Universities, discounts that can go as high as 30 percent are available for computers as well as other useful items such as printers. Apple products are also sold at discounted prices to students, though the savings are usually smaller.
To make sure that your new laptop is kept safe from malware, you can also purchase Norton Antivirus Software at a discounted price. If you’re a student majoring in a creative course, Adobe is offering the Creative Cloud that includes different apps for design, as well as photo and video editing. Check Google for student discount options.
7. Make use of the student travel discounts
Since you are a student, you probably won’t be straying too far away from your campus that often, but for those times when you will need to travel, don’t forget to make use of the many travel discounts that are available.
The 16-25 Railcard can prove to be a particularly wise investment for you. With this card in hand, you will be granted 1/3 off of rail fares when travelling all across Britain. You can save up even more money if you choose to decide to get the 16-25 Railcard that is valid for three years instead of one.
Alternatively, the aforementioned NUS Extra Card also makes trips via Megabus more affordable for you.
8. Discounts for movies and music are available so make use of them
Being at university for an extended period of time is a sure way to increase your stress levels. Every now and then, you will need to relax. The good news is that student discounts are also available for different forms of entertainment.
Both Odeon Cinemas and Cineworld offer discounts on movie tickets to students. Just remember to bring your student ID to the cinema or else you may find securing that discount will be quite troublesome.
If you’re not much of a movie buff and would rather just relax to some good music, a subscription to Spotify Premium is also available at a more affordable price.
9. Don’t spend too much on textbooks and journals
UK students that need to get an important textbook on the cheap can head on over to AbeBooks.co.uk. Students can type in important information regarding the books they are looking for and see if those specific items are available. If the book in question is indeed available, the seller can send over to the used copy to the student and the transaction can be completed easily.
One more handy tip for students seeking references was provided by Dr. Holly Witteman over on Twitter. According to Dr. Witteman, students can go ahead and email the researchers themselves to ask for their papers instead of using scientific journals. Scientific journals cost money, while the researchers will send over their work to interested parties for free. Dr. Witteman even notes that researchers are happy to send over their papers to those who request, so you, as a student, don’t need to feel like you are just intruding upon their time or anything like that.
10. Get a part-time job that works for your schedule
There’s a chance that even after following all the tips above, you’ll still find yourself running out of money on a fairly consistent basis. That happens. Living by yourself at university is not easy, think about a house share.
In order to fix that problem, you can get a part-time job. Many business establishments are more than willing to hire students on a part-time basis, so take advantage of that. Make sure that the job you get will not clash with your schedule though, as you don’t want to jeopardise your studies.
If you’re lucky enough to have your weekends free, use that time for your job to ensure that you are productive even when you are not inside a classroom.
At some point during your stay at university, you will run into some financial issues. That is just an inevitable reality for students in the UK and for others all around the world. However, if you adopt some good habits and become better aware of all the offers available to students, struggling financially does not have to be the norm. Your studies are hard enough, so make sure to follow the tips above so that you don’t have to worry about money too.