University can be one of the most expensive times of your life. It’s well publicised that the fees are astronomical, so much so that they can put folk off actually applying. Those three years away from home to study a course you love (which could help you land a great career) can’t all be about spending money, right?
Surely there must be ways of saving money while you’re on campus and also saving for post-university life?
Home, A Loan
Let’s get this one out the way first. People worry about student loans because they think of them as a debt similar to credit cards and pay-day loans, but they’re really not the same. With student loans, you pay back 9% of everything you earn over £25k once you’re in employment. If it’s £30k a year, for example, you’ll pay 9% of the £5k over £25k, which works out at £450 per annum in this example, to the student loan company to pay off your loan. What’s the likelihood of you getting a job earning over £25k to begin with? My current job isn’t really anything to do with my degree and I don’t earn anywhere near the required amount to pay money back. After 30 years of graduation, whatever you still owe is wiped. The loan doesn’t affect your credit score either so it’s definitely a good option – perhaps better than borrowing from parents, or even worse, having them re-mortgage in order for you to pay fees.
There will be pretty much the same number of graduates from your course as there are freshers just starting it. While there might be a must-buy-these-books list for your studies, the books don’t have to be brand new, even if the course leaders try to push you towards a certain shop to purchase them from. Check eBay, Amazon sellers or perhaps pop a message on the university Facebook page. I recently found my old ones and they could easily be mistaken as being new. Try selling on your unwanted books / ones you’ve finished with for some extra cash – avoid highlighting and making notes in the books to preserve their value.
Limit Your Nights Out
I’m not jumping into a ‘boring Dad’ role here – I enjoyed every single one of my university nights out, even the ones I can’t remember. There was this time when I walked all the way… sorry, that’s a story for another day. It’s a chapter of your life where there are no real worries and fun is at the top of the menu. However, you don’t have to go out and spend stacks of cash in order to have a good time. After freshers’ week – where you’ll be out every night, obviously – consider limiting your nights out. Maybe one club visit a week, with a couple of quieter pub nights mixed in, too. Look out for special offers and cheap shots deals. You’ll not only save money, but be in a better state of body and mind for actual learning in lectures and getting some education for your fees, rather than regretting your decisions from the night before. You also don’t need to finish every night out with a kebab or pizza.
Cook Your Own
Speaking of food, try cooking from scratch. While it might seem slightly time consuming, it can actually save you time and money. Why not batch cook a bunch of lasagnes instead of buying them pre-made? You’ll get more meals and they’ll work out much cheaper compared with the three ready meals you’ll get from a supermarket for £10. Pop them in the freezer – with your name scribbled on – and you’ve got easy meals whenever you need, whether you’re late home from a lecture or need something to munch after a few pints.
Get A Job
Some people get a job at university, others don’t – each to their own. I did. Fortunately, mine was an awesome position I managed to grab at my local radio station which was somewhat connected to my selected course. The work was great, I met awesome people, and the wage was pretty decent as well. Some of it went on an occasional night out or new pair of jeans but I also started foraging some of it away as my mind turned towards post university life.
The bottom line is to enjoy your university years. They go by too fast and then you’re into the world of work and trying to figure out the rest of life. Use the money you can access (student loan) to your advantage and start to think forward to put yourself in the best possible situation once all the studying is over and you’ve thrown your mortarboard up in the air.