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Firstly, the size of your student loan is pretty much irrelevant; these money saving tips will still be effective! Whether you work part-time or are living off your loan, this little guide will hopefully save you some much-needed money. These tips have helped me loads since my first year and believe me, they really do work. So, let’s get down to my six tips to saving those pennies.
Tip 1. Budget!
Organising your money is very important. As soon as I receive my student loan, I firstly pay the rent and any other payments which need to go out, for example, gym memberships or Spotify premium. Once this is done I split the money into however many weeks I will need it for. I split this money termly, usually between 10 weeks. This gives me a better idea of how much money I can spend each week. I usually note a few different financial sections, which can vary depending on the time of year: food shopping, birthdays, Christmas, spending money etc. Budgeting makes life a whole lot easier because you can see clearly what you can spend where, and there’s less stress.
Tip 2: Bulk-Buying!
Another key tip is bulk-buying items such as: pasta, rice, tea and coffee, items which can usually be kept for a long period of time. This is very useful, as instead of buying a small bag of pasta for say £2, you could buy a much larger bag for £4 that will last longer than two bags at £2 each. I try to bulk-buy at the start of term so that I don’t have to keep purchasing it throughout. I also share with housemates, we all chip in to buy soaps, toilet paper and other items that we all use. This makes things easier for everyone and saves you money: a £4 pack of 10 toilet paper split between 4 people, is £1 each.
Tip 3: Cheapest Options!
There are a few ways in which you could do this next tip. The first, is to stay in one shop and browse the cheapest options for say, pizza. If you are wanting pizza, you have the choice of shop’s own or a
branded one. Now obviously again personal preference has to be taken into account, but if you want to save some money and are able to do so, the shop’s own brand will most likely be cheaper.
Don’t forget to look at the shop’s deals for the day, as there are usually decent options in the 3 for 2 or 3 for £4. Another possibility which I do often, is to go from one shop to another and compare the prices (which keeps you fit as well). For example, if you want some deodorant, there are loads of shops you can go to and see which is the cheapest. (Places such as Wilko’s, Boots, Superdrug can all be visited to compare the prices.) It’s doubtful that all your time will be taken up in courses/seminars so use your spare-time wisely to shop around.
Tip 4: Plan your meals!
Planning your meals for the week. I will admit, this is one of my favourite tips (yes, I realise this is quite sad). Creating a list of what to make for breakfast, lunch and dinner, makes the shopping process much easier when you are in the shop or online. Lists give you a clear idea about what you are buying, stopping you from buying food you don’t really need. Also, don’t forget to take your own shopping bags so you don’t have to waste you 5p’s!
I find that food shopping online is also a good option to saving some money. You can see all the deals and offers the shop has to offer. It also reduces the number of impulse buys, as you are typing in the items you want and clicking them. (Unlike when you are in a shop, where your eyes can wander to other items you don’t particularly need.) My top tip here is to also never ever shop when you are hungry, you will want to buy everything!
Tip 5: Charity Shops!
I know that text books for university can be very expensive, but there are quite a few options for where to purchase them. The internet and the library are always the first places I go for the books I need for my modules. Online websites such as Amazon and eBay are good places to look. If these options don’t have what I need, charity shops in the town centre are also a brilliant place to check, especially because Lancaster has loads of university students that donate their books when they no- longer need them. A personal favourite of mine is the Oxfam bookshop in Lancaster which has plenty of choice. Charity shops are also a great place to find cheaper clothing if other shops seem too expensive. They usually have some great finds, so have a good look around and see what they have to offer.
Tip 6: Treats!
Getting take-aways, partying and ‘treating’ yourself are fast and easy ways to spend a lot of money when you may not need to. Try and ensure that you have food in whenever you can. When I go dancing, I make sure I have a few cheap pizzas in the freezer ready for when my tipsy self walks in the door, which usually stops me from wasting money on take-out pizza.
Pre-drinking! This is also a perfect way to save some cash, instead of spending it on drinks whilst out. I also try to take a certain amount of money out and leave my debit and credit cards at home. For example, I could take out £30, £20 for the taxi and drinking, £10 for emergencies.