Being a student based in Scotland, I’ve been very lucky to have experienced a period of time where my tuition fees are all paid for by our government. How long that will last for, who knows – but it’s no secret that whether these fees are an issue for you or not, the lifestyle of being a student is usually one that requires decent financial management skills… or rich parents.
Sadly for me, I realised upon starting my first year of uni that my parents also had a mortgage, two cars and an additional child at home (well, I knew about him) and my financial skills were about as admirable as my dancing skills (hint: not admirable in the slightest), so I started picking up a few methods that allowed my bank balance to stretch a little bit further into the year.
1. Look for a part-time job
The obvious one, really. However, a lot of people don’t realise that while a lot of students have jobs here and there, they can be quite difficult to work round demanding education schedules at times. I was lucky to have had Fridays off in my first year – but my issue was that I wouldn’t be allowed to go home for months because I would have had to work weekends. I did eventually get a job as a Christmas temp in retail in my second year, but I did ruffle a couple of feathers when I requested to go home for Christmas Day – no-one could understand that coming from an island meant a full day of travel, and so I’d have to miss Christmas Eve and Boxing Day! So, while this is a simple and conventional way of earning, make sure it works for you before signing any contracts!
2. Invest in a Terramundi-style pot and pay for things with cash
I LOVE Terramundi pots. Whatever you put in, you can’t take back out unless you smash it – and they’re too pretty to do that unless you really have to! I got given one for my 18th and only put £1 coins in; three years later it’s nearly time to open it (boo hoo), but I’m hoping I’ve saved enough to give me a decent bonus amount soon! My only problem in doing this was that I started off using my card an awful lot to pay for things – by paying with cash, I was obviously getting change and so it was easier to save coins. I paid for a wee trip to Magaluf by doing a random change pot earlier this year!
3. Make the most of your student discount!
I have a few friends who get quite embarrassed about pulling out their student card and claiming 10% off at the till – not I! There’s so many great deals out there, and they’re there to make use of. Did you know that you can get 50% off your Spotify account, or that you can claim a free cheeseburger from McDonalds with an Extra Value Meal when you show your card? Well, you do now!
4. Buy second-hand textbooks, or borrow them from the library
Something I didn’t realise until much later into my degree… I spent an absolute fortune on textbooks in my first two years, and this tends to be the case with most students – it’s usually a recommendation in courses to “purchase” a textbook. Mine were costing about £40-£50 each for six different classes, until I discovered the art of combing through the likes of eBay and Amazon for cheaper, second-hand versions. Failing that, I also found that my university’s library had a number of copies of the same textbooks; I only ever use them when doing coursework or studying for exams, so borrowing them around those times helped me save quite a bit!
5. Not everything has to be branded!
Also something I was bad for at first. Everything from jars of sauce to toilet roll HAD to be a premium brand. Not for being snobby or anything, but because it was what my parents could afford and what I was used to for the first 17 years of my life. But I soon learned that this happened because my parents both worked full-time, and I had to start making cut-backs as I slowly began running out of money. Turns out, supermarket-own products are just as good. Who’d have known? My bank account, it would appear…
Let me know in the comments if there’s any little changes you’ve made – or plan on making – to boost the balance a little!