While being a student can be fun – for many people, it’s a chance to be independent before they have to grow up and face the responsibilities of being an adult and having a job – it can be very easy to have too much fun. It’s often the first time that you’ll have money to spend, and the first time you’ll have to look after yourself. For those students out there who are worrying about how to cope, here’s our ultimate financial survival guide.
To survive as a student, the first thing you’ll need is money. While you might be getting money from your parents, or from an academic scholarship, there’s nothing stopping you from making more money – as long as it doesn’t interfere with your studying. There are plenty of ways for students to make money. For example, you could help out your fellow students (and earn some money at the same time) by tutoring them, if there’s a subject you’re particularly talented at. You can also keep an eye out for any jobs that might be going at your university or college – help out in the library, or work as a teaching assistant, for example.
Choose your bank account wisely, if you’re opening a bank account for the first time. Many banks offer incentives for students looking to join them, ranging from free gifts to interest-free overdrafts. It’s important to consider things such as credit cards, interest rates, or whether the bank actually has any branches anywhere near you.
It’s also important to responsible with your money. You don’t want to spend all of your monthly budget within the first few days, after all. One of the first things a student should do is make a budget, and stick to it. Make sure the money you have covers all of the essentials, including textbooks, bills, and food. To help budget your food shopping, come up with a weekly meal plan. Try to avoid any unnecessary expenses, such as a new phone or expensive clothes – only spend money when you really have to.
As well as budgeting all of your expenses, you should always try to save money wherever possible. If you’ve got a long list of textbooks or supplies that you’ll need, then don’t buy them new unless your college or university insists on it. You can find some second-hand copies of textbooks on www.amazon.com. Also, the students in the year above will be looking to get rid of all the books they needed when they were in your situation, so they’ll be selling the exact books you need on the cheap. Once you’re done, you’ll be able to do the same thing and get some of that money back.
When you’re doing your grocery shopping, make sure to always buy the cheaper alternatives. Many supermarkets offer ‘value’ ranges of everyday products, and some supermarkets discount items either at the end of the day or just before they expire – another good way of saving money, as long as you make sure to eat the food quickly. If you’re living with other students, you can also save a bit of money by pooling your resources and cooking up some meals together. You can find recipes online, on hundreds of different websites, some of which specialise in cheap meals for students. The BBC Food website, for example, which you’ll find at http://www.bbc.co.uk/food, has plenty of free recipes to choose from, so you won’t even have to invest in a cook book.