For the majority of students, going to uni will be the first time they’ve lived away from home and had to manage so much of their own money, bills and student homes. So it’s no surprise that many students struggle. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
With the right approach and a few careful choices, you can manage your money effectively, and not have to live like a hermit, eating own-brand beans every meal for the last three weeks of term. Here’s our top ten tips to make your money go further at Lancaster University:
1. Budget from the beginning
It can feel a bit like Christmas when that big chunk of student loan cash lands in your account, but you need to step back and resist the urge to splash out and treat yourself. It may be boring but you need to budget from the beginning before you spend a penny of your cash. Work out what you have to pay for over the next ten weeks, including rent, bills, food, travel and other fixed expenses, and take this off your overall figure. What’s left is all that you really have to spend, and this still needs to last until the end of term.
2. Find affordable student accommodation
After course fees, rent will be your biggest expenditure, so choose wisely. Lancaster Student Lettings not only have a wide range of student homes in Lancaster to choose from, but all their Lancaster student homes includes bills, such as gas, electricity and water, and often includes broadband too. With one single payment per term coving all your essentials, it is much easier to budget for everything else. Choosing the most affordable and suitable student homes can be made easy with the help of Lancaster Student Lettings.
3. Find the best bank account
Banks love students and there are lots of amazing offers to choose from when it comes to opening your first student bank account. However, you need to take your time to really consider your options and not get seduced by the biggest, sparkliest offer. In the long run, a free overdraft facility can work out much better for you than a tempting free gift.
4. Plan your menus
Planning your meals before you shop can be a great way to cut costs and avoid waste. Better still, if you share the cooking with your fellow student tenants, you not only save by cooking larger quantities, but you also get the night off when it’s their turn. Even if you are cooking for one, you can still cook in bulk and freeze some for later. Planning your meals will mean you shop better and you are less likely to waste money on a takeaway because there’s nothing in. You can even plan packed lunches to save buying food at campus cafes.
5. Shop smartly
With a meal plan, you can shop efficiently, once a week, avoiding the need to drop in everyday which will inevitably mean you spend more. That said, if you live close to a supermarket, it’s worth figuring out when they make their daily reductions on bread, meat and fresh goods, and then popping in everyday to see what bargains you can pick up. Reduction shopping can significantly cut your food bill and help you try new things that you wouldn’t normally buy.
6. Make the most of discounts
Student discounts are everywhere, so don’t be shy when it comes to taking advantage of them. Make sure you apply for a Totum card (formerly the NUS Extra Card) which is £14.99 for a year or £24.99 for your full three years. The average student can save over £600 per year with discounts such as 10% off at CoOp and 20% off at Pizza Hut. You can also save with loyalty cards at coffee shops and save Nectar Points on everything from Sainsbury’s shopping and eBay, to Argos essentials and even Esso fuel.
7. Staying in is the new going out
Having friends over to your Lancaster student housing is always going to be cheaper than going out, so think about movie nights rather than expensive cinema visits, or games nights instead of pool at the pub. If you are going out, have your friends over beforehand for pre-drinks to start your engines. Drinks at home are loads cheaper than bars and clubs, and it will get the night going nice and early.
8. Earn a little extra
If you’ve got the time to spare between your course and your social life, get a part time job. It will bring in some handy extra cash and it will show potential employers that you can manage your time well between different demands. Try asking about jobs at your regular supermarket or favourite restaurant, that way you’ll not only get paid, but enjoy a staff discount as well.
9. Don’t flash the cash
Remember, most students are in exactly the same financial position as you, so there’s no need to try and keep up with unrealistic expectations or flash the cash to impress people. Even if they won’t admit it, most mates will be glad when you choose the cheaper option. To keep to your budget, always go out with cash not cards, so you won’t be tempted to overspend when you’ve had a few, only to regret it the next morning.
10. Find a balance
At the end of the day, money may be tight, but you still need to have some fun and treat yourself every once in a while. If you create a strict, draconian regime where every penny is accounted for, you are much more likely to go off the rails than if you have a little flexibility and fun built in. Make your plans realistic and you’ve got a much better chance of sticking to them and making your money last.