Welcome back to the second semester of the school year (and welcome to all of our new study abroad students)! Whether you did absolutely nothing for a month or spent your time working or travelling, you’d probably still agree that it went by way faster than it should have. It is time to get our noses back to the grindstone and while we do, here are some tips to make the new semester lighter on the pocketbook.
If you have not purchased your textbooks for this semester yet, now is the time to get them – but perhaps not all of them. You may be able to skip buying some of the books off your reading list and save yourself the money. Talk to lecturers and older students to figure out which ones you really need to buy and which you can get by with checking out of the library for a couple weeks (or even skipping entirely!).
Once you know what you need to buy, be strategic about your purchases and you can save quite a significant sum of money. Always check the charity shops to see if they have some of your books; they often have copies of many textbooks donated by previous students, especially for arts courses, available for as little as £5 or £10. The library sometimes also has a few textbooks on the rolling cart of books for sale near the IT Support desk. Also poke around on Facebook looking for sales (though be careful buying a book sight-unseen), and don’t be shy about reaching out to students who took the course and may have a spare textbook lying around.
If you have exhausted the other resources and need to buy a textbook from Blackwell’s (the union bookshop), you can still get quite a bit of money off the price of a new book by selling back one of your old textbooks. Doing this will get you 50 per cent off the original price of the book in store credit, which you can then use toward the price of your new textbook.
Whether you can’t believe you forgot to pack an extra towel or you need to stock up on food, you’re almost certainly going to need to do a fair bit of shopping in the next few weeks. Before you order everything brand-new off of Amazon, though, try to minimise your costs with a few of these money-saving tips.
Just for starters, steer clear of Tesco as much as you can. It may be convenient, but you pay for that convenience. Aldi and Morrison’s may be out in “the Badlands,” but walking over there at least once in a while not only saves you some cash but is probably also good for your health. To make it more pleasant, try walking to Aldi via Lade Braes. Most of the walk consists of a stroll through the woods, which is very lovely.
Another way to cut costs is paying the charity shops in town a visit. Not only can you find heavily discounted used textbooks, the shops also sell a very large variety of clothing (including ball gowns), home goods (I got a bathroom scale for £3.99), knick-knacks (very cute, though a bit superfluous) and more.
The easiest way to visit the largest number of charity shops in a single trip, starting from Sainsbury’s, is to start with Salvation Army on Church Street. Then take a right onto South Street and stay straight, wandering into whichever charity shops catch your eye (they will all be on the right side of the street). Take a right again onto Bell Street and walk down it, as it has a few more shops. The trip ends once you’re back on Market Street. You will end up at the intersection between the Union and Tesco.
It is hard to provide detailed instructions for applying to live in a flat, because it is a very complicated and stressful process. This is simply a reminder that if you are at all interested in moving out of halls next year, you really need to be getting your ducks in a row now.
At the bare minimum you need to know who you want to live with, what areas you want to stay in, and when the vacancies will become available for viewing and applications. You should also be aware of the laws governing the behaviour of landlords, so you know your rights not only during the application process but also while you live in your rented home next year. If you have questions about the process, the university and the union are both well-equipped to help you figure it out.