For most of us, money is hard to come by and tends to, um, vanish easily; here are some helpful tips for those who frequently find their wallets somewhat empty
Like thousands of other students across the country, reawakening in the pit of your stomach is the prospect of discovering that after a month into term you have a mere £10.47 left in your bank account to survive until the next dose of your student loan; a feeling not so different from the experience of a few too many tropic fruits VKs from the student bar.
I wish I could tell you that I behold the antidote that has been kept under lock and key for the past ten years, or that, in fact, I am a wizard with a magical wand who can chant ‘Expellistudentloan’.
Evidently, I am no Dumbledore. What I can offer, however, is some practical and hard-learned advice.
Whether you’re a fresher or a finalist, the tale remains the same. You will simply never have enough money as a student; unless, of course, you happen to have an Uncle Wilfred that is the founder of ‘wagon wheels’ and you spend your weekends at his Surrey retreat sipping champagne cocktails.
For those of us without the bank of Uncle Wilfred (or mum and dad), here is my ‘Poor-Person’s Guide for Surviving University’:
- Friends – What you can never be too frugal with are friends. This may seem obvious, but those ‘randomers’ you find yourself socialising with during freshers’ week may end up being the very people that save you from starvation for the rest of the year. It should also be kept in mind that you, too, should be ready to play the good Samaritan when your neighbour is running low on toilet roll, or the bins haven’t been taken out in a week.
- Societies – Your university will be packed with different societies all wanting to recruit you. It may be daunting, and possibly take a fair portion of your free social time, but they are likely to save you money. Special events and nights out run by societies usually mean that as a member, you can grab discounted tickets and prices on group drinks.
- Become a tutor – If you don’t want to get a time-consuming part-time job, then this may be an option. Organisations such as TutorHunt are a great way to earn some extra cash. Let’s face it, if you are able to get into university, then you are capable of tutoring a primary school pupil through to a GCSE student. You could potentially earn around £10 an hour with flexible hours that work for you.
- Book swaps – Most university departments should have them, so why not look into it? It’s no surprise that ordering your next term’s worth of books can cost as much as a Y reg Ford KA, but there are other options. If you are a returning student, you have the option to sell your used books to those starting in the new year; in the same way, if you’re in need of books, you can grab an absolute bargain. Amazon and Ebay are great, but what initially looks like a penny steal ends up costing a whopping £3.49 once you’re hit with the postage and packaging.
- Essential outfits – It’s great to get all dressed up on a night out, isn’t it? But think about it. Not a single person is going to notice that you are wearing that really hot outfit from Zara on Wednesday and then that really expensive one on Friday. No one cares. If you are really struggling to make ends meet, or you want to prepare for the future, invest in two different outfits that you can rotate. If you are a complete daredevil, invest in only one. I promise you (well, almost promise) that at 2 am nobody is going to notice your cheeky rotation.
- Charity shops – If, like me, your childhood is plagued with the embarrassment of mum dragging you into the local Oxfam to find a decent second-hand coat, then the dark days are most definitely over. Charity shopping is pretty much the same as going down the lanes in Brighton, but instead of paying £10 for what Grandma Joy wore forty years ago, you can pay less than half of that at your local British Heart Foundation, and give money to charity at the same time. It may be worth visiting a few local boot fairs too (or participating in one). You can usually pick up absolute bargains, ranging from 50p jumpers to £3 for a set of pots and pans (ideal for those who are moving into a new house and need the essentials).
I still retain that I haven’t found the secret to curing our student-loan-ridden worries, but perhaps we can cross our fingers, toes, legs, and anything else crossable for students of the future.