Money saving university life hacks

Moving to university is a cut off. You’re on your own. Sort of. Well, you probably won’t be alone, but decision making for the entire day is now down to you. More than ever, your finances are going to need attention, because without direct daily access to the bank of mum and dad, you could find that you need some financial pointers…

Switch your bulbs

If you are going into your first year, you may find yourself in university campus mixed living accommodation. This type of arrangement generally offers fixed rent/energy prices. However, second year students and above tend to move into student houses with friends, where energy bills are a different story – in short, your light bulbs could be costing you money (check out this e27 LED bulb for more information on bulbs for home lighting). Older light bulbs left by previous tenants are not likely to be up to date with modern energy saving technology, meaning that just by switching your lights on you could be burning a needless hole in your bank balance.

Switch to own-brand foods

The food bill. Nobody warns you about it. Going off to live at university is supposed to be fun and mind expanding and a host of other wonderful things. Then, you discover the price of bacon. And cheese. And you even toy with not putting milk in your coffee because cows apparently think their juice is made from diamonds (perhaps that’s going a little far, but milk is used up so fast that paying for it virtually every other day is nothing short of off-putting on a limited budget). But help is available. The supermarket has placed the answers right on the shelf underneath the brands you usually buy. Just look down and you’ll find a world of off-brand and own-brand foods that will save you a small fortune, cumulatively speaking.

Avoid buying brand new textbooks

Last year’s students are looking to sell their textbooks. They don’t need them anymore. The university will typically help put you in touch with people looking to sell their old textbooks, but websites dedicated to this purpose also exist. Be sure to ask your course leader if there is anything in particular that you need to know from the newest edition and seek out this information from other sources. However, one year to the next, main themes in the history of politics or art or forensic science are not going to move on at such a rate that a textbook from 12 months ago will not suffice. And you’ll save a pretty penny!

Budget, budget, budget

When you were young, this was called a rainy day fund. Then, in your mid-teens, you’d optimistically refer to the paltry sum nestled tentatively in your bank account as your savings (and this was barely enough to put used tyres on the used car for which the savings were intended). As a student of limited financial means, your efforts are going to be known as budgeting. See this budget calculator for students. Writing down incomings and outgoings and living within your means is … well, it’s nothing short of a challenge. But it’s possible…

…and if all else fails, you could look into a part time job (tip: answering phones and processing calls for banks is relatively easy and widely available work that means you get to list a bank as a previous employer).

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