Never buy a book you can borrow: students’ best money-saving tips | Student finance

Starting college is a time of firsts: it may be the first time you’ve lived away from home, the first time you’ve had to sort out your finances, or both.

A key question is what to take with you. Do you really need the pack of four screens? Is it worth buying an ironing board? When money – and space – is tight, you don’t want to buy things you don’t really need, but some items will make your life better while you’re there.

Another is how to make the most of your money while studying. In Save the Student’s 2020 Money Survey, 71% of respondents said they wished they had had a better financial education before college. One in four were unaware of the numerous scholarships, grants and grants available to fund their education, meaning they may have missed out.

Guardian Money has a guide to student finance, starting with tips from people who have experience of university life. We asked them what financial advice they would give their fresh former selves and what is the most useful thing they bought for college.

Antonio James Numminen, 22

Fourth year Politics and International Relations at the University of Aberdeen

Antonio James Numminen
Anttoni James Numminen has a culinary tip. Photo: Antoni James Numminen

Know how much money you have and keep track of what you spend. Even if you don’t write a budget (e.g. in your phone notes), try to have a rough estimate of your financial situation in mind. Plus, cooking at home really saves money.

As silly as it sounds, a halfway decent frying pan will get you a long way. You can cook most things in a skillet, from curry to bacon and eggs. Spending £15 on it now may feel awkward, but trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.

Sommergutkind, 21

Graduated June 2021, English from the University of Nottingham

Summer Goodkind
Summer Goodkind has two key pieces of advice for freshmen. Photo: Summer Goodkind

If I could give my fresher self some advice, I would do it in two parts: The first is – do whatever you want to do (within reason, of course). One of the biggest lessons Covid taught me was that I should take every opportunity I get – you only go to uni once so if you want to go to that club night that everyone goes to but you also want to save, try to make it work. However, the best way to do this would be my second piece of advice: budget every week or month. Don’t underestimate the value of being organized and finding out how much you can spend. It can seem a bit overwhelming in the first few weeks of varsity as you see your student loan rolling through and a huge balance that you think you can just spend all at once. Divide it up and think about how best to spend it.

Oh, and shop at Aldi too.

My best investment has to be board games. With countless lockdowns and isolations, my roommates and I have had to constantly find new ways to enjoy ourselves. You can only watch so many hours of TV, and once you hit your limit, a board game is the perfect solution.

Mathilde Kopf, 20

Third year, Psychological Sciences at the University of Cambridge

Mathilde head
Matilda Head has some great advice for freshmen. Photo: Matilda Head

Don’t get too upset about the overdraft facility or student loan. Be sensible and set aside a certain amount of money for each week or month. Going out for a snack or a night out once or twice a week is fine, and it wouldn’t be a college experience without it, but overindulgence will make you reach for cash far too quickly – I speak from experience.

After I lost my room key on my second freshman night, my sister gave me the brilliant idea of ​​attaching the keychain to a bracelet that I can wear every day. I absolutely couldn’t do without it because then I would keep losing my room key. The awkward walk in pajamas and usually no shoes to get the spare key is an embarrassment I don’t want to endure.

Aoifke McGuire France
Aoifke McGuire-France knows how to plan an evening well and keep any noise at bay once you’re back at the lodging. Photo: Aoifke McGuire-France

Aoifke McGuire-France, 20

Third year, English Literature at Durham University

Have a separate account where you keep a small amount of cash – maybe £20 – and use it as your ‘going out’ card. My college town is pretty cheap for going out, so the amount is rather small; You’ll spend less on the night, but even if you lose your bank card or wallet, you’ll only lose £20 rather than your entire student loan.

Wireless Headphones. I bought some for around £30 and they cover my ears – perfect for cold mornings on the way to classes as they keep the ears warm. In the library, the design blocks more noise, and it is also more convenient to carry. Plus, noisy roommates or neighbors are often unavoidable – if you need to listen to music while cleaning or concentrate while studying with good sound quality, it’s perfect. I use mine every day.

Lauren McGaun, 20

Third year Politics and American Studies at the University of Nottingham

Lauren McGaun
Lauren McGaun regrets not sticking to a budget in first term. Photo: Lauren McGaun

Shop smarter. There’s so much you don’t calculate when you start college, like ridiculously expensive textbooks, society membership, and unexpected nights out, so it’s important to really think about your priorities from the start. As tempting as it is to shop for Tesco Finest ready meals, items like this can add up really quickly and I spent way too much on them in the first year. While budgeting is a chore and nobody wants to do it, I wish I had stuck to it in my first term as I had no real idea of ​​what I was spending which meant I had to cut back in my second term.

Storage boxes: There are far from enough closets in university rooms – although purchasing several storage boxes can be expensive, it is worth the investment. They have been so helpful for me to store everything from clothes to books and stationery. You can also stack them on top of each other to save space and only use them when needed.

Mansi Vithlani, 21

Third year journalism at the City, University of London

Mansi Vithlani
Mansi Vithlani knows how expensive studying in London can be. Photo: Mansi Vithlani

As a student living in London, the lifestyle can be very expensive. Even if you open a student bank account, I recommend getting another card like a Monzo as well — I’d put money into that account each month for expenses like travel, small groceries, and just extra money if there were less and less in mine current student account. This also helps with budgeting and can ensure you’re never at zero pounds during the term and can help you avoid overdrafts.

One of the best things I’ve invested in is a snack drawer, which was especially useful during my freshman year and turned into a snack basket by the sophomore year. Also, it may sound a little cheesy, but I can’t live without the comforts of my favorite teddy bear (or several).

Joel Rosen, 21

Third year, History at the University of Cambridge

Joel Rosen
Joel Rosen. Photo: Joel Rosen

Never buy a book that you can borrow from a library.

Friends are way more important than anything you can buy on Amazon. For the first few weeks, try to find people to click with. It can do a lot to make a room feel homey, but it’s the people who drop by unannounced that make it feel like home.

Luke Hinton
Luke Hinton.

Luke Hinton

Fourth Year, Journalism, Media and Communications at Cardiff University

Don’t waste all your money on luxury once the first loan falls. We’ve all wanted to buy the new Fifa or a new phone but budgeting is difficult and a whole new experience for most. So you want as much money as possible for eating out, going out, and bills.

A laptop stand and a detachable keyboard and mouse. Makes you far more likely to be working at a desk than in bed, giving you the crucial distinction between work time and rest time.

Anna Suffolk
Anna Suffolk has advice on how to budget more easily. Photo: Anna Suffolk

Anna Suffolk, 20

Third year, English and Film at the University of Birmingham

Set up a separate bank account or card for your loan or spending money. I use Monzo, which I transfer money to weekly. It tracks all your expenses in categories, making it easier for you to budget.

An umbrella. I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten caught in the rain with a long walk ahead of me.

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