Unless you are the lucky recipient of a trust fund or your parents are fabulously wealthy, your experience of university is likely to be a crash course in how to live frugally. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as a life lesson it teaches you how to manage money and perhaps more importantly, that having a great time is not inextricably linked to having heaps of disposable income. Having said that, no-one enjoys running out of money or incurring spiralling debt, so spending some time thinking about how to trim your expenses is time well spent.
Don’t panic buy – Target your modest resources strategically. Don’t rush into buying everything that you think that you need until you have explored the alternatives and discovered what the priorities are. You are presented with a reading list and because you are a keen student you want to get everything on it. Well, remember that you can’t read everything on it at once, so find out what the key texts are and start by buying those. You may find that you can pick up the others second hand or borrow them from the library. Apply the same strategy to all those other things that you think you absolutely must buy. See what facilities are on offer at the University and don’t feel that everything that you buy must be brand new.
Declare your car as Sorn – If you are used to the convenience of running a vehicle then you need to think long and hard about whether to take it to university or not. Will you actually need a car, or could you make your journeys on foot, by bike or on public transport? What’s the parking situation? Do you really want to be one of the few students with a vehicle, yes it may bring you some popularity, but you might also tire of ferrying people around. The basic question is: can you afford it? The answer is likely to be no, if you’re being realistic. So, that leaves you with two options: sell the vehicle or declare it as sorn if it’s only going to be parked on a drive. If you declare your car as sorn, this means that you won’t need to pay any insurance or tax and you’ll still have a car to come back to.
Make full use of discount cards – As a student you are entitled to a lot more discounts than you probably realise. Make sure that you are getting the most out of your NUS card, invest in a 16-25 Railcard and check out the variety of other ways in which you can get a discount.
Get rid of that gym membership – You are not going to get value for money out of that gym membership back in your hometown so save some money and ditch it. Explore the range of free clubs and activities on offer at your university before you go spending any money on exercise.
Stop smoking – Well yes, this one does only apply to smokers but if you are one, this is the perfect time to reinvent yourself as a non-smoker. You can’t afford it and you’ll be doing your body a big favour. Win, win.
Other useful websites:
- AbeBooks – Find cheap, used textbooks.
- Gov.uk – Register your vehicle as off the road.
- NHS – Stop smoking help services.