Not content with my previous posts on saving money, here are some more tips to get stuck into when trying to survive on a student budget:
Shopping & Eating
- Cut down on convenience food – I’m not talking about ready meals, I’m talking about buying food when you’re on the go and when you haven’t planned your day. Stop spending on takeaway meals, ready-made sandwiches, coffee/tea/bottled water, cafe grub and pasty purchases. They eat up valuable cash.
- Buy special offers – I like a bit of variation, so I don’t mind trawling the supermarket for what’s on offer. It’s cheaper (for me) than making a list of specific items to buy. Then again, if you’re tempted by too much when you don’t write a list, you may prefer to stick with just the items you know you want…
- Go to more than one supermarket – If you can get to a few different places to buy your food, it’s worth seeing what’s on offer in each place. I used to go into town to get just the special offers from Sainsburys, Tesco, Somerfield, Marks & Spencer and even the convenience store. Those shops all had different special offers, so even an avid writer of shopping lists should come out with most (if not all) they want at a good price!
- Don’t give in to impulse buys – Okay, I admit, some special offers will result in an impulse purchase. But most buying on impulse is because the product is tempting you as you wait by the checkout, or it has a big presentation associated with it down an aisle. The food may look better than anything you’ve ever had, but it’ll only end in tears and a premature parting of your cash.
- Haggle for a discount (even over any student discounts you may already be eligible for) – Student discounts are great, but there’s no harm in asking if the seller can go any lower in price. It doesn’t have to be an expensive item and you don’t have to be buying anything else in order to ask. It doesn’t even look cheeky if you’re serious about saving money. The worst answer you’ll get is “No”. I’m sure you can live with that. You weren’t going to get a discount anyway if you hadn’t asked. No harm done, eh?
- Check the charity shops for bargains – Forget about stigma and start enjoying the fact that you’ll help a good cause and get some good, cheap clothes/books thrown in. It’s worth spending a few minutes looking around for a bargain, even if you come out with nothing.
- Check prices online – What you can buy for £20 on the high street, you could get for less than £10 online. Some things may even be free on the right promotion. The Web is awash with brilliant prices on almost anything you want to buy (even your shopping!). Always see how much you can save online. I know a lot of you do already, but I still don’t see everyone doing it.
- Cut back on your shopping habits – Do you need to visit the hairdresser so much? Are you buying posher brands than you really need? Have you even tried to buy a cheaper version of something as a test? Are you carelessly texting and calling on your mobile (be it PAYG or contract…) without considering the cost? Do you buy expensive glossy magazines for a quick 10 minute fix? Are you subscribing to services you don’t really use? Claw back all the money you can and you’re bound to save a bit here and there.
I was reading an essay entitled “Students’ perceptions of the effects of term-time paid employment” and it got me wondering how university life in the UK has changed in recent years with a greater number of students now undertaking part-time work of around 15 hours per week.
I didn’t take a job when I was at uni. It meant I had to budget hard and consider purchases carefully at every step, but it left me with the time to do whatever I wanted. It was never my intention to work and I did everything to keep out of the employment game throughout my degree.
That said, I did get paid to be a Senior Student on campus. In the process, the uni paid for about 75% of my accommodation, so I guess you could call that a type of employment.
The essay got me thinking, to what extent is someone better or worse off if they have a job, comapred to one who doesn’t?