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Whilst people are at University, it is commonly assumed that you will not be in a strong financial position as the cost of living is high as a student. Yet, this doesn’t have to be the case. Here we will discuss a few simple ways to save money each week or month, which you can then use in order to invest in your future. You won’t notice much of a difference at all in terms of your quality of life as a student, but your future self will definitely thank you for being conscious of your finances.
One easy way to cut down on your costs is to be savvy when it comes to food shopping. We’re all guilty of getting carried away when we go food shopping, buying things that look appealing and then realising we don’t actually have anything that can be put together to make a substantial meal.
So, go shopping with a list. Spend 10 minutes each week planning what you will eat for the week, write down all the ingredients and you’ll be good to go. If you know you crave takeaways, buy a couple of treats like a pizza and frozen chips or a Chinese ready meal. This will save you so much money in the long run! Another good tip is to share a taxi with your flatmates to get to a budget store, such as Aldi or Lidl. It is almost guaranteed that you will notice a significant difference in the cost of your shop for the small sacrifice of a split taxi fare.
Another good tip is to avoid buying multiple products if you can access what you need in just one. For example, rather than buying fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, buy a frozen berries mix that is cheaper and will last longer! Or, if you are health conscious, instead of buying 5 different vitamins, buy one pot of multivitamins that are just as good for you. For those of you into cooking, buy mixed italian herbs or Chinese 5 spice instead of having to buy all the ingredients separately. These small changes will make a significant difference to the cost of your weekly shop.
Going out with your friends is a pretty important part of University so you won’t want to miss out, however there are a few things you can do to cut down on costs.
Become an Insider
Firstly, if you are buying alcohol to drink before going out, buy supermarkets own brand. It is far cheaper and usually tastes the same, making it fantastic value for money compared to branded products. The same rule goes for mixers, as supermarkets own brand fizzy drinks are far more cost effective and equally as nice.
When you head out, buy single measures of alcohol if drinking spirits and not doubles. You’ll save money and feel much less hungover the next day! Another good tip is to start your night in cheaper bars with discounted drink prices and then head to other places that are a bit more expensive when you won’t be buying as many drinks. I’m sure your friends will be happy to save a bit of money too, making this a good option for your whole group.
Look For Accommodation Out of the City Centre
Most Universities are located in city centres, meaning accommodation near the campus can be very expensive. So, it is worth looking into ‘student’ areas just outside of the city to save yourself substantial amounts of money each week.
For example, Smithdown Road in Liverpool is renowned for being a student area. The average cost of rent per week is around £85 including bills, as opposed to £150 a week in the city centre. This is a huge saving of £65 a week! You might spend around £10-£15 a week on public transport, however that is still a saving of £50. There are usually good bus routes to and from these areas, so look into whether your University offers discounted passes.
You will find it really easy to meet new people in these areas as you will be surrounded by students. The places available for food and drink will also be more likely to offer student discounts or cheaper prices, so you will save more money in this area too.
Create a Budget
When your student loan comes in, it is so easy to overspend too soon, leaving you struggling towards the end of term. So, the most sensible thing to do is create a budget for your spending.
Map out your essential outgoings, including rent, food, public transport, University supplies, insurance, mobile phone and bills. You can then work out how much you have left and divide it by the amount of weeks in the term. This will be your weekly disposable income for going out or treating yourself. Now is a great time to set up a direct debit into your savings account each week to make sure some of your disposable income is going to good use.
Also, just because some outgoings are essential, it doesn’t mean you just need to accept the price. For example, try looking for student discounts on your public transport. Look at price comparison sites for the best deal on your mobile phone. Buy second hand books instead of brand new ones. There are so many small things you can do to reduce costs that will make a big difference.
Investing Money Wisely
Now that you’ve saved some money, now it’s time to put it to good use! One of the best ways you can invest in your future is to gain some valuable work experience. Having a degree simply isn’t enough anymore, so you must have some relevant experience in order to secure a post-graduate job.
Whilst the place you live in might offer some fantastic placements, perhaps you want to go somewhere different to get your foot in the door. Some companies will pay for your expenses like travel or accommodation costs, yet this isn’t a given, so this is where your valuable savings will come in. Use the money to pay your living costs for a week or two week placement at a company in a new city. The experience will be invaluable, making this a fantastic way to gain experience in a place you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.
Another good use of your money is to put it into a savings account for your future. The perfect account for University students would be a Help To Buy ISA. The scheme has been extended meaning it is available until the 28th February 2021, so as long as you open your account by then, you can reap the benefits for years to come!
The Help to Buy ISA is a government scheme that helps you to save for a deposit to buy your first home. Whatever you save in the account, the government will contribute 25% on top. So, if you save £12,000, then the government will contribute £3,000 once you withdraw the money to pay for your home. You can put up to £200 a month into the account for as long as you need, but the government contribution will stop once you save more than £12,000. You can still benefit from any interest generated from the money in the account, though.
This is a fantastic option to get you a step closer to getting onto the property ladder in the future. Even small contributions will add up quickly, so this is definitely an opportunity to make the most of.
Small Side Business or Job
If you have always dreamt of having your own business, now is a good time to see if you can make it work by using your savings to set up a small business or working to earn money to reinvest.
Perhaps you want to try buying second hand items such as football shirts or vintage clothes and selling them on in a thrift shop style business. Setting up a local dog walking business is another great option which won’t require much on an upfront investment. If you’re creative, try designing unique prints to sell online. You could try being an Uber driver if you have a car available, as you can make the job fit around your studies. Working through University will show tenacity to potential employers, especially if you can talk about how you set the work up yourself.
Whilst this might not turn into your future career, it will give you a clearer idea of what you might do when you leave University. You might make a nice profit out of it which can be invested in other areas, such as stocks, if you feel confident in doing so.
Whilst your time at University is meant for making fantastic memories and gaining a degree, you can also make it a time to plan for your future. Making small cuts where you can will help you to get a step ahead ready for when you leave University.
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