How I saved, spent and made money as a student
14th May 2015
On Monday I finished university, although I’m technically a student until my course ends (June or July, I think).
Anyway, one aspect of my student life that I haven’t talked about is money. Money can be a difficult subject at any time, but particularly when you’re a student. However, I’ve never gone into my overdraft, I’ve never asked to borrow money off my parents, and I have even managed to have enough left over after paying bills and buying food so that I can treat myself.
“How?!” I hear you cry over your Tesco Value Chicken Noodles as you huddle under the duvet because you can’t afford heating. Well, today I am going to share a few of my tips for making, spending and saving money as a student.
*Please note: I totally get that the loan system in the UK is rubbish and that because it is means tested some people will not get enough to live off. It’s not a system I agree with at all.*
I made a budget and stuck to it
I can’t stress the idea of budgeting enough. The very first thing I did when I started university was work out how much money would be going into my account (from loans and bursaries), and how much would be going out (such as for rent and bills). Then I did the calculations to work our how much that would leave me with each week to buy food and necessities. I made sure to avoid going over this set allowance for food and other things, but if I did go over the limit I would have to deduct that extra spending from the following weeks allowance.
My top tip for those of you who feel like you are rubbish at managing your money is to take that allowance out of the bank at the beginning of the week. I find it a lot easier to control physical money than virtual money.
If you can continuously under-spend on your allowance, the money will add up, and by the end of the year you might have saved some money.
I learnt to shop around for the best deals
Ah, the amount of times I would pop to the corner shop instead of walking in to town to buy a loaf of bread and losing out on 50p in the process…
But those 50p’s soon add up. Tyrone and I learnt to be really clever with our money, especially when it came to buying food, and became aware of where the cheapest places to buy certain foods were. But we have never sacrificed the quality of the food we eat. We have never gone hungry and we’ve never ate bland food. I guess what I’m trying to say if you don’t have to spend a lot of money to eat well.
We also found that planning meals and doing weekly shops not only saved us money, but also prevented food waste.
I got a job (or two)
The harsh truth is if you want more money than what you get from student loads and bursaries you are going to have to work for it.
I moved home for the summer after my first year of university and got a part-time job (but I ended up working almost full-time) in a supermarket. It was the worst job I have ever had, and not only did it encourage me to do well at university so I wouldn’t be stuck working as a cashier, it also allowed me to earn lots of tax-free money.
This money allowed Tyrone and I to move into our apartment in Liverpool earlier, and make my second year of university a little more pleasant.
At the end of my second year I then got a part-time, work-when-you-like job as an Insight Leader, and while it may not seem like I earn a lot from this job it soon adds up.
I forced myself into the mind set that my parents couldn’t help me out
Even if your parents can help you out financially, don’t think about this too much or else you will always turn to them when you don’t have enough money. I’m of course talking about those who go out every night and spend a fortune on drink and new clothes, and then tell their parents they’re poor. I know I’d feel so guilty if I did that.
You can’t live like that forever, so don’t make a habit of it.
I saved money in an ISA
Yes, I saved some of the money from my loan into my ISA (savings account) which may not make any sense at all. Why save money you’ve borrowed?!
Without saving I wouldn’t have been able to stay in Liverpool while looking for a job now that I have finished my degree. That money I saved will pay my bills and buy me food until I get a job. Without it I would have had to move home, and it would have been a giant step backwards.
Believe me, it was worth missing out on money-wasting opportunities to still be living in Liverpool now. But I guess it all depends on what your priorities are.
Do you have any tips for saving money, even if you’re not a student?