The freshers' parties are over and students across the country are settling into their new routines. But student life can be more expensive than expected. Some people are content to accept the label of poor student and build more and more debt that will follow them into their working life, slowing their ability to save up and achieve their goals.
But that doesn't have to be you. By taking steps today you can build good spending habits and leave University with the best possible opportunities and the least money squandered. The following advice should help you down the right path.
Buy Pre-Owned Text Books
Textbooks are a big cost for students every year. Ask your university or college's student information office about schemes for re-using textbooks. You may be able to purchase one for cheap from a student in the year above. Look for websites online selling the books second hand and look out for thrift shops near the campus. Be wary of the edition number though as you may need the latest release.
If you don't already know some basic recipes, you will at some point in your life have to learn. If you start now you'll be saving a lot of money compared to students who spend on takeaway, delivery, and fast food. The extra time and energy invested are worth it because home cooked meals are often healthier and so your mood and energy level will improve too. It's easy to find recipes online catering to almost any taste or diet and some are specifically written for students. The key is planning your meals at least a day in advance and making a list of what you need to buy to make them.
Explore Student Discounts
Discounts for students are very common. Hairdressers, cinemas and other entertainment, clothes shops, and public transport are just some examples. Look out for places that offer student discounts, and make note of them for future. Take your student ID wherever you go as it will come in handy. Check out
of student discounts. However, keep in mind that just because a place offers a student discount it doesn't mean it is the cheapest deal available. Always compare prices.
Book Travel Far in Advance
Your term times and holidays are set before the academic year begins. If you are travelling a long distance to go home for the holidays you can book your transport months in advance. Advanced bookings tend to be cheaper for trains, buses, coaches, and flights. This may put you out of pocket today, but it will pay off throughout the year.
Use a Personal Finance Assistant
It's much easier to build good spending practises when you have a clear understanding of how much of your money is being spent on what. Money Dashboard's budget planner functionality allows you to set your budgeting expectations, monitor the progress, and see quickly and easily the areas where you are spending more than you should be.
Update Your Budget
Working out your budget is surprisingly easy. The bigger challenge is to stay on top of your budget and make sure you don't overspend. If you don't spend what your budget predicts, you need to either change your spending habits or change your budget. Either way, it's important to keep monitoring your spending.
Don't Buy It Yet
There are a lot of things that you could spend money on that you may feel would improve your life. It might be furniture for your dorm or flat, weights to help you exercise, shot glasses for parties or a poster or decoration that will inspire you. While you might want all these things, you have to prioritise. If you see something in a shop or online that you think might be useful, don't buy it right away. Write it down on a list, with the cost, give it a day, a week, a month, or however long it takes for there be to enough space if your budget to afford the purchase. Don't make impulsive purchases that you'll regret.
Saving for Success
Whatever you are studying, and whatever you plan to get out of life, the best way to achieve it is to put any resources you have to the most effective use. That means having a successful university experience, both academically and socially, without creating restrictive debt and indulgent spending practises.