Students are criminally undervalued and unappreciated in modern times. There used to be a time where it was affordable to continue your education beyond high school and attend a university without ending up in debt. Nowadays, student loans are massive and most students receive very little financial support. In fact, a lot of places and companies are guilty of taking advantage of students to increase prices. You see this a lot with local supermarkets upping the price of products in stores that are near universities. It sounds outrageous, but it happens!
So, how can students save money while they study? It’s not impossible, and there are ways to spend less without compromising your education. Let’s see some of the best frugal living tips for students:
Don’t stay in uni halls
Generally, university halls tend to be the most expensive accommodation option. That’s hard to believe, but there’s a logic behind it. Most halls come with on-site security, concierges, and quick access to the university. In essence, they’re in prime locations with lots of extras added on. It is far more affordable if you avoid staying in these halls during your education. Instead, either commute from home or find other accommodation options.
Commuting from home can be the most affordable choice for many, but other accommodation is also effective. You can look into things like room rental, where you basically pay for a room in a house. As such, the other students living with you will all pay for their rooms, so you’re splitting rent between you. Also, look for accommodation slightly outside the prime uni zone – it’s cheaper, and you can probably get to classes via a bus, walking or cycling.
Shop at Aldi or Lidl
Other budget supermarkets are available, but these two tend to be the most popular around universities. They sell everything you need to survive during uni, but at a fraction of the price of Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, etc. If you don’t think it’s worth shopping at these two places, do one week’s shop in an Aldi/Lidl and compare it to your regular one elsewhere. You’ll be stunned at how much cheaper it is – yet the quality of the products is staggeringly similar.
For certain items or ingredients, small convenience shops may work out better too.
Make the most of any student discounts
While students don’t get a lot of financial help, there are plenty of little student discounts you may find useful. They come in handy when you’re buying a new computer or just need to buy some clothes or study materials. Student Beans and UNiDAYS are the two most common places that display all the student discounts available. Sign up for both of these and see if you can get special offers whenever you need to buy anything. It also helps to ask in shops if they do student discounts, just in case you can snag a bargain.
Also, you should follow this trail of thought when partying. Let’s be honest, it’s impossible to avoid nightlife when you’re a student. Still, this doesn’t mean you should waste all of your money on drinks and tickets to events. Try to limit your night’s out to save money, but also look for student offers. Most bars and clubs will have student nights where everything is cheaper than usual, plan your nights around these events!
If you are a struggling student, set yourself a weekly budget
Budgeting is a fantastic way to help you live frugally and avoid overspending. Hardly any students have a budget, but they’re so handy. Effectively, you give yourself a set amount of money to spend every week. This covers food, transport, and anything else you may need to buy. The aim is to avoid going over-budget as much as possible.
If you want to be really strict, you can open an account with a company like Monzo and deposit your budget into it every week. Then, you only use that card to pay for everything. If you don’t have enough money, you can’t make a purchase – within reason! This teaches you to be much smarter with your money as you soon realise that most of what you buy isn’t essential. It’s also a lesson to see how much you usually spend each week, and how easily it is to cut it down.
The benefit of these tips is that they help you save money without making any compromises. You don’t have to live in squalor to save money on your accommodation, you can still buy good food for a cheaper price, and you can save vital pounds with discounts. Ultimately, this all helps you create a strict budget that forces you to curve your spending without having a negative impact on your studies!
So over to you. What do you think? What other tips do you have for our struggling university students? Leave your comments in the box below.