Life as a student does sometimes, unfortunately, include spending time wishing that you had more money to spend! There are little things here and there, however, that you can do to make living as a student a bit more financially comfortable. I don’t have a great deal of money, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t have as good a University experience as other people!
If you have time, get a part-time job.
I always said I was going to get a part-time job in my second year. I wanted to have the first year to just get used to my surroundings and settle in, and saved money by being careful with my spending. When second year came around, I looked for part time jobs around Plymouth but found it hard to find jobs that fitted in with my schedule. So, here is a bit of self-promotion for Student Blogging, I’d definitely recommend it! You can fit it around your schedule (they understand your deadlines and other commitments) and it’s a good way to get involved with the University and use your voice to give advice. It also looks fab on the CV! I am also a Subject-Specific Student Ambassador which is great. I like working open days/applicant days/interview days, as it gives me the chance to help potential Fine Art and Art History students. It’s good pay and I quite enjoying sharing my experience of the course and showing people around. If your unable to get a part-time job, the holidays are a great time to work to earn money for the rest of year. Coming back in September, knowing that I have a little more money that I normally would after working all summer, definitely makes running around as a waitress on those hot summer days worthwhile!
I purchased my rail-card a long time before I came to University, as I used the train quite a lot anyway, but I have a lot of friends who purchased one just before University. I think some banks offer a free rail-card with the opening of a student bank account. It costs £30 per year, but if you’re like me and travel from University to home and back on the train, you’ll save this within no time. I just booked a ticket to get the train home in a few weekends time, and it cost me about £60 return to get to London Paddington and back to Plymouth. If I didn’t have my rail card, it would have cost a huge £100! So, I saved £40, which is more than the railcard cost me in the first place – so definitely get one if you do a similar journey on a regular basis. Also, try to book your train as far in advance as possible – the earlier you book it the cheaper it is.
UniDays app, and loyalty cards.
You can pay for an NUS card, which has a lot of good discounts for shopping, but if you download the UniDays app for free you can get lots of good discounts too, and you just have to show the app in store. Many shops offer 20% off discount for short periods of time, so make sure you download it! Loyalty cards are also good to get and are normally free, Paperchase have a card where you get points every time you buy something, and you get £5 to spend on your birthday. A Boots Advantage Card is really good, as it adds up your points and after a while these points equate to actual money you can spend in store. Also, just ask at any shop if they offer student discount, because in some shops you only need your student ID to get discounts – the Art Side in town (near the big Sainsbury’s) offer 10% for students all year round, and their deals on art materials are really good.
I hadn’t heard of Groupon until a few months ago, but I needed a haircut and it can be really expensive - the general price of a wash cut and blow-dry in Plymouth seemed to be around £30 which I couldn’t afford. Groupon had a certain deal on at the time for £16 at particular salons, so I paid only half the price I would have otherwise. Once you sign up, they bombard you with emails with tons of discounts on everything from a spa day to restaurant discounts. It’s amazing!
Cook for friends and divide the cost.
In halls, we more or less did our own thing food wise, but occasionally had a roast on a Sunday or a chilli night, where we all chipped in. It made it really cheap to eat well. A lot of recipes online are for a family of 4 anyway, so you may as well take it in turns to cook, or just save all the portions and freeze them for another time.
Treat yourself sometimes!
While trying to save money wherever possible, everyone deserves a treat sometimes! This weekend, we went to Boston Tea Party for brunch. It was pretty reasonably priced, and the food was amazing! You get a lot for your money, and it’s in a really nice location on the Barbican. Caffeine Club is also great for affordable but nice food, and has a really chilled atmosphere. I think if you keep track of your spending and try to set a weekly budget, you definitely can treat yourself to nicer food every now and again!