When your only regular source of income is your student loan, budgeting and saving money is key. Here are The Saint’s top tips for making your money go further.
Invest in travel cards
Being a student means there are numerous dis- counts available when you travel. One worth considering is the 16-25 railcard, especially if you are expecting to spend over £90 a year on train travel. The price of the card is £30 for a year, or £70 for three years, and it reduces your train fare by a third.
Take advantage of student discounts
Always ask for student discount when you are out – just because they are not advertised does not mean they do not exist. Retailers like Topshop and Miss Selfridge offer a 10 per cent student discount, and bus prices are reduced when you show valid student ID. Fast food chains are also keen participators.
Without encouraging excessive drinking, it is cheaper to buy alcohol from the local supermarket, like Tesco or Sainsbury’s, and drink before you go out. Remember that supermarkets won’t sell alcohol after 10 pm.
Sell old textbooks
Instead of letting the textbooks you no longer use gather dust, sell or trade them. There are St Andrews Facebook pages with other students in need of the textbooks you have finished with, or you can trade certain ones on Amazon for gift cards. And if you are buying textbooks, it is always worth seeing if you can find good, discounted second-hand ones.
Learn to cook and plan meals
For students who are not in catered accommodation, it is possible to make significant savings when planning meals in advance and buying in bulk, rather than heading to the shops every meal time. Learning to cook even the simplest meals will allow your money to go much further than if it is spent on more expensive takeaways. There are plenty of online sites such as studentrecipes.co for good, simple recipe ideas. Another easy way to save money when grocery shopping is to choose alternatives to the familiar household brands. It is understandable not wanting to buy ‘value range’ meat, but there is little difference with items such as rice, pasta and frozen vegetables.
Although tedious, it helps to budget your finances and work out how much you can spend throughout the semester. If you want to have the money to spend at the end of term, then this is the easiest way to make sure you can. There are plenty of sites online to help you budget like studentcalculator.org. Alternatively, use Apple Numbers or Microsoft Excel to calculate and track your payments.
Get a part-time job
Studying is always the priority, but many students look to supplement their studies with some extra cash. A part-time job also provides you with added vocational experience and indicates to future employers that you can manage your time effectively. Although St Andrews is a small town with limited jobs available, they do exist and there are sources of help.
One is the University Careers Centre, which has a webpage set up with current job vacancies, while another is the job centre on South Street. Alternatively, consider handing you CV in to places around town and bet on getting lucky somewhere. The earlier in the year you try, the better your chances of success.
The undergraduate memos sent to every student via email often advertise ways of earning money; for example, completing a survey for a chance to win vouchers, or participating in studies for money.
Do not take your card on a night out
This one is pretty self-explanatory. As long as you get into the habit of not taking your card with you on nights out then you’ll have a limit on your spending. Before you go out, withdraw your desired amount from a cash machine, and you won’t be upset when you wake up in the morning to inspect the damage.