Whenever I used to go home from university to visit my parents, they would accuse me of looking frail and starving myself. It has taken three years outside of the parental radar zone, including one year in Germany, to convince them that I am capable of looking after myself. In fact, I enjoy my student lifestyle, without forgoing some of the finer things in life. I hope that my personal experiences and tips described below will show that it can be possible and fun to save a little, and still live a lot. I apologise for this cheesy maxim of my own invention, but there is some truth in it; that the “poor student” can have a decent lifestyle, without breaking the piggy bank or going crazy over budgeting.
5 ways of saving a bit here and there
- Hair modelling at academies such as Vidal Sassoon or Saks. Get a trim, a new cut or a new look for only a fiver. I once got paid £50 to get my hair coloured.
- In-store gigs, such as at HMV or Virgin. Sing along with new and old bands alike, get something signed.
- Using internet shopping to your advantage: Amazon marketplace for books and general university paraphernalia; Ebay to home in on good bargains.
- Digging out your old clothes that are hidden deep in your wardrobe. I always take a regenerated liking to them, akin to buying new clothes.
- Orange Wednesdays! Not just famous for the humorous adverts with Brennan Brown and Steve Furst. Go see a film and make a night out of it!
4 ways of earning a bit here and there
- This does not necessarily involve getting a part-time job. However for me, working in a decent restaurant ensured a regular cash flow, tips and guaranteed hot meals.
- One-off or sporadic jobs are good if temporarily strapped for money and can be found through the university or the likes of www.gumtree.co.uk.
- Volunteering for psychology experiments/experiments in neuroscience. They are fun, flexible and the money aside, you contribute to research. I have seen my arm twitch due to magnetic currents and images of my brain!
- Selling things on Ebay. It takes time to get used to and there are fees involved. Yet it can be relaxing and rather exciting checking viewing numbers and the final selling price.
3 ways of eating well, healthily and affordably
- Recreating restaurant food at home. Pizza is surprisingly straightforward, as is sushi. After the one-off purchase of the basics, the additional costs are low!
- Prepare post-going out munchies pre-going out, such as cooking more to ensure leftovers, or making a sandwich. You may regret eating that kebab anyway.
- A personal favourite way of spending a glamorous night dining now, reasonably, instead of ten years down the line is taking advantage of deals. For example, Two or Three courses for £15 at top chic restaurants. Check out www.london-eating.co.uk or www.toptable.co.uk.
2 ways of being in the know
- Browsing the internet! I am by no means an internet geek but simply surfing different sites can reveal proverbial gold. Everything from vouchers and offers, free gigs and TV show recordings, exciting chances and opportunities, to good competitions (you have to enter to have a chance of winning!) and events in your city, cultural or random. Particularly good is www.studentbeans.com.
- Be alert to your surroundings and to what is going on. Find out from friends what they have been up to. It is my best friend who first dragged me to a hair Academy and now I cannot stop going back!
1 way of keeping above the red at university
- Knowing yourself, your strengths and weaknesses. All my experiences with money and finance are unique to me, through my university years. By learning about how you deal with money and how best to change habits to suit yourself, the word “financing” does not have to make you shudder.
With just a bit of forward planning, budgeting and knowing what is going on, students do not have to cut back on all of life’s little luxuries. Sushi for dinner, anyone?