Managing my University Finances
Financial situations vary between University students, and the loans therefore depend on personal circumstance. But in this blog I am going to give a quick run-down of my top-tips for saving money and how I make it last each term.
I split my annual money into three (for the three terms at Warwick) and calculate my budget accordingly. So, during First Year, I worked out- through trial and error- that I could live off of a £20 to £25 food budget per week. However, the first food shop is always the biggest, so if you’re a Fresher, do not panic, the first shop is the one that will last the longest (but also cost a tad more!).
At the beginning of each year I make a huge list of my University necessities and divide them into categories. For example in my Hygiene Category I have a list that varies from surface wipes and tissues to tooth paste and soap, all of which you usually don’t need to buy in your weekly shop.
Another Category that will bump up the original University Food shop is the Tins and Long Lasting Foods, such as pastas, tins of tuna, baked beans, rice- the student basics- or even coffee and tea. I also like to think of these as a back-up in case you haven’t managed to get to the Shops and have limited food supplied.
Finally, of my long-lasting Food Shop Categories is the Frozen Food- I always make sure I have at least one frozen meal in my Freezer shelf, along with keeping frozen fruit and a selection of meal options. Again things like Fish Fingers will last one person quite a while, unless you eat 10 a day.
Now we come onto the pricy part… the fruit and vegetables. I did not realise how expensive these were until I came to University. However, I am determined to live a healthy diet, so I just vary my fruit and vegetable variations each week. I absolutely love avocado and pineapple (not together of course!) but they are both more expensive than your average bag of apples or bunch of bananas, so I will choose one or the other each week to remain in my budget. A hack that I also picked up was that the bags of frozen fruit are far cheaper and you get shed loads more, plus there is usually a sneaky section in the fruit aisle full of the things coming to the end of their dates- so I always check those!
So, the first shop is always going to be pricier, but check your cupboards before shopping, make a list and don’t forget to pick up a treat every now and then! I have a weakness for crisps, so I always pick those up if I have a tough week coming up.
Retail therapy is cheaper than normal therapy, and is often required around stressful periods in a degree. This morning I really felt the deadlines piling up, the internship applications closing, the summer job applications needing to be filled in and the complete lack of energy and self-confidence. So I went shopping. I didn’t spend loads, but it was enough for me to feel like I was taking some time to myself. However, one of the most important things to remember is to ask if the shop does student discount- I am one of those people who will ask in any shop. If I can get my 10% off I will!
As previously stated in my blogs, I am definitely more of a coffee shop gal than a clubbing girl. My favourite place to have coffee on campus is Curiositea, where a large tea or coffee costs just over £1. I am also a massive fan of any form of point system in coffee shops, including the stamps- Curiositea offers every tenth drink free, and I spend a fair amount of time drinking there, so it’s well worth it. Plus I have a Costa card in case I fancy switching it up. These sorts of systems are all over campus and I make sure to utilise them.
As a home bird, I go home quite frequently, and from Leamington Spa/Coventry Rail station it can cost from £50 for a return to Southampton to £70. So I bought a rail card- it costs me £30 a year (or £70 for 3 years- which I should have done!) and is SO worth it. I save a hefty chunk of money.
I have only recently, in my Second Year, become a Student Blogger- which I love. But I also make sure I am working in between Terms as much as I can, just to make it that bit easier. During the holidays I work with a nursery agency, called Wizard Staff Solutions, who send me to different nurseries where I cover sick staff or those on holiday. This contract requires me to work once every 3 months and is so flexible. So that’s just another way to save money. I also know lots of people who have a job on campus- whether that’s in a restaurant, a bar, a coffee shop, a food shop or even for the SU or gym- or even off of campus.
I hope this is helpful! Every university situation is different and it’s pretty easy to fall into a routine or pattern and work out what works best for you in terms of money. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!