Jumping into student life is hard in many ways, especially when it comes to finance. Gone from the warm embrace of home, suddenly it’s all on you (and Freshers’ Week is bloody expensive). So here are some pointers to try and make that money stretch further, and stop you from living on ramen mixed with tears for the last month (unless that’s your thing).
Firstly, don’t spend it all at once. Be Norway, not Greece. The arrival of your student loan will be one of your happiest days. You’ve got money! But remember – it has to sustain you for anywhere between three and six months. So don’t go wild on the first week and throw money everywhere (or spend £50 on Prosecco for everyone on your table at the college Winter Ball).
Secondly, don’t miss catered meals. There will be times when you’re too tired, too hungover or even too overworked (I’m looking at you, science students) to think that you can make it to the dining hall. Whatever’s stopping you, ignore it – you’ll be literally throwing money and energy away.
Thirdly, no last minute food shopping. If you’re uncatered, this is crucial. Getting food delivered is cheap and easy. Many of the major supermarkets offer delivery slots from £1 and delivery plans from as little as £3 per month – no travel needed (and no broken back).
It often works well to shop with someone or bulk order things such as canned food or drinks that will last for ages. The most useful thing about planning your shopping is that you won’t end up running out of things and having to pay the expensive prices at Nisa – convenience costs.
Fourthly, budget and stick to it. Budgeting is boring. There’s no way around it. Sometimes, looking back on the choices that you made with your money will make you cringe, but it’s an essential part of keeping your finances in order. Whether a scrawled note or an all-singing all-dancing spreadsheet (spot the economist) which makes you keep track of your expenses, just keep a record.
Knowing how much money you’ve got left and tracking where that missing twenty quid went is a vital skill. No one thinks that sensible policy-making is fun, but hey, now Germany has all the money.
Buy a student card and a Rail card. An NUS student card is not an essential as many places will accept your university student card. However, if you purchase lots of things online then often this is the only card that is accepted.
If you plan on doing any amount of travelling by trains, the 16-25 Railcard is a must-buy. Giving you a third off all train fares, it easily pays for itself. These benefits cannot be stressed enough. Other loyalty schemes, such as Tesco Clubcard, Nectar cards and other store cards, are also a great way to save money on purchases you would have made anyway.
Ask for a student discount. So many places offer them. Whether it be restaurants, clothes stores or supermarkets, they all want students’ custom. However, because it is such a long list of places it becomes impossible to remember. Just always ask.
Use the York Uni Swap Shop. A micro-economy at its finest, the York Uni Swap Shop is a Facebook group set up to allow students to trade with each other, either independently or at specially organised fairs.
With everything from kitchen equipment and clothes to course books and exercise equipment, it’s a safe and hassle free way to earn a little extra cash or to bag yourself a bargain.
So best of luck with your first term at the University of York! Have fun, party hard and if you keep a few of these in mind, you should have money to do so until the end of term – where the Christmas parties await.