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MANAGING ON A STUDENT BUDGET (OR HOW TO LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS)

Below is a guide to helping you save you money.

Make a packed lunch every morning

A simple, tasty packed lunch will cost you around 50p. If you go to the pub or refectory for lunch, it could cost you over £5. So think about it. If you take a packed lunch on three days, it will cost you £1.50 as opposed to £15. You can then use the money you have saved for an extra treat at the weekend or save it for the lean time at the end of term when your money is well and truly running out. Simple, but effective.

Limit the number of ready meals and take always that you eat

Take away food is expensive and full of things that are bad for you such as saturated fat, sugar and calories. An average take away will cost you £10 so if you have one a week - that's £100 gone each term on take away food. So not only are take always bad for your health, they are bad for your financial well-being too.

Of course, there's no harm in having one now and again as a treat, but really should limit yourself to say one or two a month.

Ready meals are also bad for you as they are full of preservatives, fat, salt and sugar. They also cost a lot relative to how much you would pay if you cooked it yourself (see our article on take always and ready meals)

Cook for yourself where possible

Cooking for yourself using fresh ingredients is by far the best option. It can be prepared at a fraction of the cost of what you would pay at a pub or cafe and it is generally much better for you.

Drink before you go out

Drinks sold at pubs, bars and clubs are extortionate in comparison to how much you pay if you buy your own in an off-licence or supermarket. So the best way to prime yourself for an evening out is to invite a few friends round to share a bottle of wine or some beers. You can then enjoy the evening without having to spend a fortune on drinks and can concentrate on having a good time knowing that you have saved a load.

Don't go out

As a student, there is usually something going on, or people going out. It is often difficult to say 'no' but exercising self restraint will help prevent fatigue, improve your studies and save you money. Why not try it once in a while?

Carry an NUS card and look for discounts

Your NUS card will give you a range of discounts in high street shops including Top Shop. NUS cards are usually available from your student union, but if not, you can always apply online.

Save

At the start of term put some of your student loan (say 20%) in a savings account. It will earn you a little interest, and will be there for you when you reach the lean period at the end to the term.

Watch movies on TV

Going to the cinema is fun, but can be expensive, especially if you have a few drinks before or go for something to eat at a restaurant. The alternative is a cheap nights in, perhaps cooking a nice home cooked meal for a few friends followed by a film watched on your TV. It will save you loads of money and is more fun.

Opt for a pay as you go mobile phone

This is by far the cheapest way to run a mobile phone. Okay, you won't get the latest models every 12 months, but is that really so important? Mobile phone companies will do their best to mis-sell mobile phone contracts to students who really do not need them. When looking for a mobile phone, ask yourself if you really need all the texts and talk time on offer? The answer more often than not is 'no'.
What's more, those traditional mobile phone contracts of £25 a month usually end up costing around £50 plus. Pay As You Go will only cost you as much as you decide. If you look around, you can find pay as you go providers who offer text messages with a standard rate of 5p per text and 10p per minute for talk time on both land line and mobile calls.

 

 

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