Your first week at university should go with a bang, but shouldn’t leave you broke and hungry for the next few months. We partnered up with our friends at Save the Student to get their top five tips to spending less during freshers’ week.
This is a guest post by Ruth Bushi at Save the Student.
1. Load-up before you leave home
Like having a few drinks at home before a night out, stocking up ahead of university can save you bucks – but the trick is to be selective!
- Bring stuff you already own (or can blag, beg or borrow!) to save shelling out on campus. It’s also worth packing things that double up: you can boil, fry, scramble and steam with a wok, for instance – that’s three fewer pans to buy and wash! Not sure what you’ll really need? Use a cheat sheet.
- If your folks are feeling generous, take advantage of a grocery pit stop before they drop you off. Grab long-life essentials, such as tinned food and dried goods, plus a couple of treats and ice-breaker supplies to see you through lean times, low times, and hall-warming parties!
2. Get your discounts in order
The longer you lock-in savings, the bigger the benefits. So, if a yearly bus pass means cheaper fares than termly or pay as you go, it makes sense to grab the annual option asap instead of dithering about it until reading week!
Best of the rest:
- Check your uni ID or library card is a NUS card: you can use it to grab discounts online and locally. NUS Extra is a paid upgrade, but has more discounts to dive into, plus bundles in a year’s ISIC card (international student ID and discounts) for free.
- Get a 16-25 rail card, but plan head! Time getting a 3-year card just before your 24th birthday for the biggest savings plus longest use.
Heads-up: while paying-up front means more savings, laying down big sums at the start of the year could leave you short of ready cash for the rest of term. Plan ahead!
3. Work the freshers’ fair
Freshers’ fair is a rite of passage: you go into it scared and slightly panicked, and come out of it knackered and, somehow, deputy president of the Hummus society. You need a strategy!
- Go early (or more than once) to grab freebies before they’re gone. Also look for vouchers, promo codes, special offers and anything else that can save you cash during the rest of term.
- Don’t join ALL the societies, but DO sign up for as many taster sessions as you can handle. You’ll get to pick the ones that actually suit you and your schedule before laying down subscription fees, plus the welcome socials may come with free snacks.
4. Beware the binge
The paradox of freshers’ week is that it can be utterly epic, but financially brutal! As well as settling into uni life and kitting yourself out with essentials, the full party circuit can easily set you back a couple of hundred quid or more.
- Be realistic about how much cash you’ll spend and try to save up in advance
- Don’t expect a freshers’ pass to cover absolutely everything: most get you into selected events, with discounts (not freebies!) once you’re inside
- Watch out for the takeaway trap, i.e., always eating out or getting grub delivered after a night out or because you can’t be bothered to cook. Once it’s more than an occasional treat it starts getting pricey. When you do treat yourself, make sure you use the best takeaway deals.
5. Pace yourself
If you go for broke in week one, you’ll have a long term of feeling skint, sad or stressed ahead of you. Here’s how to ditch that:
- Take a look at how much cash you’ll have coming in (and when), and give yourself a weekly budget. Top ‘n’ tail it so you’ll have more to play with at the start and end of term, when you’ll likely have more costs to cover.
- If you struggle to stick to limits, put your cards away and carry cash during freshers’ week or on nights out. When you’ve spent it all, it’s time to head home!
- Keep a note of how much you spend every day, even if it sounds scary – it makes it easier to stay on track or to take action if you bungle your budget. There are free apps to show you where you are spending the bulk of your money and where you are saving the most.
Freshers’ week (like the rest of uni life) is what you make of it. Throw yourself into it and you’ll come out slightly dishevelled but covered in glory. Enjoy the ride!