How to make your money go further at university

16 December 2022

University is the time in your life when you want to let loose a little and figure out who you are as an individual. But it is also a time when most of us are notoriously ‘skint’, to use the local phrase. Because, while being a student might be hard work, it doesn’t exactly pay the bills.

Despite the current cost-of-living crisis and the record expense of university, increasing numbers of students are continuing to apply to study for a degree in the UK next year with the latest applications set to close at the end of Jan 2023.

If you are one of the many thousands starting uni for the first time next year, get ahead of the game with these tips on how to make your money go further and last longer.

Choose accommodation carefully

When you are choosing where to stay for your first year in university, take time to factor in the cost of each option as this can vary widely. For example, accommodation that is closer to or on campus is usually more expensive as it is more sought-after, while student halls on the outskirts of town provide a more affordable option. Of course, more distance means more travel, so don’t forget to factor in transport costs as well. There are often great transport deals for students such as special offer fares, and quick loans for students are available to help you purchase a discounted annual bus or train pass ahead of the start of term.

Those who are choosing to study for their degree in or close to their home city may prefer to continue living with their family and commute to the university campus each day. While this is undoubtedly a money-saving option, consider the difference this will make to the social aspect of your university experience before committing to this as the best option for you.

Track your spending

When you have arrived at university, make sure that you track essential costs like rent, fees, and food to ensure no late payments or overspending. This can be done with a spreadsheet if you like an old-fashioned layout, but there are dozens of smartphone apps designed to help you budget that work very well which are completely free to download and use. Split your spending into necessities and non-essentials and keep tweaking your costs month by month as you work out your typical spending patterns.

Shop second-hand where possible

The rise of second-hand clothing as a trend thanks to websites like Vinted has made young people more receptive to the concept of buying second-hand. Think the same way with course books and even furniture for your student house. You should take advantage of free online resources and the university library wherever possible too, rather than forking out for all your recommended reading.

Take the time to plan meals

Ensure no food is wasted by planning weekly meals, batch cooking meals and taking advantage of supermarket offers. You may wish to cook together with your housemates to make it collectively cheaper, too. No matter how much you may dislike cooking, you will soon learn that daily takeaways are not practical – in terms of both financial and physical health.

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