It is the way of life for many students to be on a perpetually tight budget. It is widely known that students are not the best at saving money, and many people believe what they do save gets spent on alcohol, takeaway food and nights out. However, there are many essentials that you will have to budget for as a student, and you’ll need to find the best deals in order to save as much money as you can. Living arrangements change all the time at university, so there are always household items which need to be bought, as well as things for your course, and a budget for some spending money for you on the side. Therefore, you need to find the best deals on your purchases to try and reduce the amount that you spend, and really limit yourself to only buying necessary items most of the time. Here are a few things you may need to budget for as a student, and some examples of methods you can utilize to try to save money.
Depending on your course and how long you are going to be studying, it’s likely you will have to spend a lot of money on course books alone each year. There may be some part of you which believes that your textbooks might not be a necessity, but unfortunately, your textbooks are recommended to you for a reason. While there might be a lot of other things you would rather spend your money on, don’t forget that your number one priority at university is to learn and achieve your full potential, and your textbooks contain a lot of the information which you will need for the course. Therefore, textbooks should be the first thing which you consider spending your money on. Compare prices of textbooks across a range of different sites and stores to try and reduce the amount you will have to spend. It is also possible that your university will offer a package price if you buy all of your textbooks for the year in bulk, or alternatively, you could purchase second-hand books from older students who don’t need them anymore.
It is likely that you will want to travel back and forth between university on occasion, so it would be worthwhile to put some money aside to pay for your travel costs. If you drive, then you will need spare funds to maintain your car, and also to pay for regular costs such as maintenance, MOTs, and petrol expenses. Alternatively, you can always travel home via public transport, and you can utilize a variation of methods to try and save money on train fares. There are normally different discounts accessible to students to reduce travel costs and make journeys more affordable, so have a look to see what is out there and available to you. You can also compare fare prices on different websites to see what the cheapest ticket price you can get is. Booking at least a few weeks in advance of your travel date will also save you money and ensure that you get the best deal available.
Everyone needs new clothes, so don’t feel bad about creating a clothing budget for yourself. However, you should take into account that there is a difference between buying yourself a new pair of jeans after you spilled something on them on a night out, and buying those £200 shoes that you’ve had your eye on just to ‘treat yourself.’ As a student, your treats will unfortunately now be limited to an early morning £2 coffee after a late night of studying. Try and find cheap clothes through clothing swaps and supermarket brands, rather than purchasing high-end fashionable clothes. If you are a fan of fashion, you might be able to find designer clothes for a lower price in charity shops and thrift stores.
Despite what many students believe, you cannot live your entire university life off of frozen chicken nuggets and takeaway pizza, especially as takeaways will cost you a lot of money in the long run. Doing weekly shops in a local supermarket will save you money on food, and there are certain buying tips which will help you to keep to your budget. Firstly, you should write a strict list of essentials you need for the week, and work out the meals you plan on making, as this will stop you from buying unnecessary purchases. Look for reduced price items which are close to their use-by date, and then you can freeze them at home and keep them for at least a month after you buy. Don’t forget that widely recognized brands are more likely to put their prices up, so look for own-brand alternatives.
Stationary is a must have for every student. Depending on your course, you may need more stationery than other people, such as art supplies for a fine art degree. However, the basics that everyone will need would be an assortment of pens, and a few different notebooks for each module of your course. You may also want to invest in items such as highlighters and colored pens, as these make good study aids. Get yourself a few bookmarks for your textbooks. It could also be beneficial to you to buy a diary in which you can write down any important dates, deadlines and events. You may find it worthwhile investing in your own printer, as otherwise you will have to pay to get any work printed through your university or at your local library. Alternatively, you could pitch in with your flatmates to buy one between you. Student discounts, such as UniDays or an NUS card will give you money off of stationary in a range of different stores.
Kitchenware There are a few kitchenware essentials that students need for university, such as plates, bowls, cups and glasses. Due to student antics, it is possible these may be broken or become lost, so you may need to replace them from time to time. You may also need to invest in cutlery, saucepans, cutting boards and other utensils such as bottle openers and can openers. If you plan on doing a lot of baking, then you may need more unusual items such as whisks, or you may want other cooking apparatus like a toasted sandwich maker. However, you should consider what essential items are, and what you can do without buying.
Living away from your parents can be a big learning curve for many students, especially as you will have to start taking on more responsibility. There are several bills you will have to start paying for yourself, such as your rent. Decide with your landlord what payment plan works best for you to pay your rent: often that will be a choice between bi-monthly, monthly, a sum per term, or a paying for the year upfront. Sometimes it can be beneficial to pay as much upfront as you can, so that you don’t have to worry about keeping up with large monthly payments. You will also have to pay water and electricity bills, so it is important that you monitor your usage of these commodities to try and keep bill prices as low as possible.
Remember that you will need a Television license if you plan on watching live TV, and that includes on computers. Try and stick to Freeview rather than buying TV boxes as this will reduce your costs. If you want more channels, consider subscriptions like Netflix, and you will also find that student deals are available to you; if you and your college friends all use Netflix, then you could share an account and split the costs. You will also have personal bills to consider outside of the household. Your phone contract can be an expensive bill, especially if you use minutes or data outside of your plan. Sites such as HandsetExpert allow you to compare different phones and plans through price comparisons and deals, which is a great way to keep your costs down.
Other household items
Depending on whether you are sharing a bathroom with other people, or if you have your own en-suite, the things that you will need to buy could vary. You will definitely need your own towels, but for items such as bath mats, you can decide between you and your flatmates who buys what. There are other household items which you could benefit from, such as a drying rack if you don’t have a tumble dryer. If your bed is uncomfortable, then you can always invest in a mattress topper to help you get a better night’s sleep. In order to make your student accommodation homelier you can add a few home comforts such as plants, ornaments and photographs, but again you need to decide what where you can save money but not buying these items. There are also a few miscellaneous items which you may find it worthwhile to buy, such as a first aid kit, and a lockable box to keep your most valuable items in.
There will always be a temptation to spend large amounts of money on items that you don’t truly need, so really try and stick to a strict monthly budget, and consider how your purchases will affect you in the long run.