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Advice Student Life

FRESHERS WEEK #2 | Student Finance Tips

English pound notes of different amounts with "Freshers 2017 | Student finance tips" in purple text box

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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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…

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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!





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  • Alys

    Great tips! I might be going to uni this year so this is definitely helpful!

  • Corinne @BTRT

    I’ve learned to prioritise, that is decide what I want to spend on and what I don’t. I’m a big fan of ice tea and I’ve found it just doesn’t taste the same when you make it at home, so I’ve learned to budget for it! That way, in saving money but at the same time also treating myself and not feeling like I’m missing out. Thanks for the great post, looking forward to reading more!

  • Chloe Rennard

    My tip is only take cash with you on a night out! Don’t take your card! It’s too tempting!

    • whathannahwrote

      Ahh, very good point! This is something I really need to start doing too… I’m too generous with buying rounds of drinks as the night goes on! 😳

  • emmasoffagain

    Useful tips and ones I used too whilst at university. My brother has just started at Leeds so I shall pass on your wisdom 🙂 x

  • Your last tip is my favorite. I always buy the store brand these days. My great grandma swore by it and lived to be 99, and I figure if it was good enough for her, it’s good enough for me!!


    • whathannahwrote

      Ahh, that’s really interesting! My grandparents all swear by whisky, so I feel like buying store brand would be an easier one to follow… xx

  • These are all great tips! Especially the terramundi pot! little savings change everything! I am glad I am no longer a student though! Even though I miss the student discount ahah xx corinne

    • whathannahwrote

      I’m definitely dreading losing my student discount more than not being a student! xx

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