Managing your money at university can be difficult. Your student finance instalment comes in, and somehow you’ve got to pay for your grocery shopping, rent, and those crucial nights out. Where do you even begin? Here are some of my handy tips to help you enjoy your time at York without breaking the bank…
Nights out – or in!
So, you’ve arrived at university, and you can’t wait to let your hair down at one of the city’s many clubs and bars. Happy hours and student discounts are your best friends here – even opt for a mocktail if you want to save a few extra pounds. Of course, your chain pubs such as Wetherspoons will have their 2-for-1 pitchers, but York is famed for its independent businesses, and many smaller bars offer great discounts for students too. Don’t forget your student-run bars as well! Based in Derwent, Courtyard is famed for their delicious range of snacks and drinks, and Glasshouse on Campus East hosts regular karaoke nights.
Alternatively, you can have just as much fun staying in as going out. Invest in some board games and a pack of cards, grab some friends for a movie night, and order in a takeaway (or shove a pizza in the oven!). During my first year of university, board-game nights were a great way of getting to know people. I made a lot of close friends through games of UNO and Monopoly without having to pay for a single round of drinks.
The weekly food shop
This applies more to second and third years and to those in non-catered accommodation, but the weekly food shop can be a drain on the bank balance if you don’t prepare in advance. Plan your meals for the week and draw up a list of exactly what you need: as a final-year student living off campus, my weekly shop comes to between £20-25. Make use of supermarket club cards: they’re free to pick up, and as well as racking up points each time you shop (which translates into money off at the checkout), you can often get discounts on certain products. This sticky chilli and garlic chicken I made works out at less than £2 a portion, and it took less than half an hour to whip up in the evening.
The freezer is your friend. When you’re out shopping, if a product has been marked down in price because it goes off in a day or two, buy it and freeze it for later. Incorporate more vegetarian meals into your diet to save on cost; batch cook and freeze multiple portions to save on time; and compare prices at different supermarkets for staples such as bread and milk to get an idea of what’s too much to pay, and what’s a steal at the price.
Support at York
The university is incredibly understanding when students are experiencing financial difficulty. Every student can apply for an emergency short-term loan to pay for food, utility bills or travel expenses, and there’s no judgement whatsoever. Long-term, if there’s been an unforeseen change in your circumstances, the student support fund can help you as well. If you’re a carer, a disabled student, or living with dependent children, you can also apply for various credits and grants. As a full-time student, you also don’t have to pay council tax.
However, financial support isn’t just available for when you’re experiencing difficulty. If you’re an undergraduate, York offers a range of bursaries based on household income, which are not the same as loans, so you don’t have to pay it back. Additionally, there’s a whole host of scholarships for undergraduate, mature, international, and postgraduate students, which work the same way as bursaries in that you don’t have to pay the money back once you’ve finished your degree.
What you can do now
Do yourself a favour, and download apps such as UNiDAYS and Student Beans to instantly get money off your favourite restaurants in York, as well as lifestyle brands, fashion and tech. Work out how much money you’ll have each month after necessary payments (such as rent and bills), and split that into four chunks to get an idea of your budget for each week. Make a note of several student-friendly recipes whose ingredients don’t cost a lot and don’t take too long to make in the evening.
Go thrift shopping and look in charity shops to get items on the cheap; my dad managed to get me a slow cooker in perfect condition for £2 from a car boot sale, which has been a lifesaver when planning meals. If you’re able to, get yourself a part-time job or summer work to bring in some extra cash. Finally, Martin Lewis is an amazing man who is out there to save you money – tune in to his shows, as he’ll often do a segment on student finance and budgeting.
I hope the tips I’ve discussed will help you to save some extra money while you’re here with us at York. Although it’s important to keep a track of your spending, university is also supposed to be a time to enjoy yourself, so make sure to allow yourself some treats and days off!