How can I survive my year at Uni without going broke?

Posted: 14th of September 2011

At the beginning of each new year at university there are many questions that students ask themselves though the one at the top of the pile is often - How, financially, can I get through this year without going broke?

Though it’s no student’s fault, the economic downturn that the UK is currently experiencing is having a detrimental effect on each student’s finances.  Not only are costs of food, rent, household bills, travel and socialising rising, the opportunities of part-time jobs in many major cities are seeing a strong, competitive marketplace reducing the number of jobs on offer.  With a significant hike in tuition fees from 2012 onwards, the constraints on a student’s personal finances are only going to get worse.

However there are ways of both saving money and making money:

Make use of your NUS card – many major high-street retailers and eateries offer discounts to students.  You might not see it emblazoned over the doorway as you enter, or clearly displayed at the till when you are paying, but a little trawling on the internet, or a cheeky question at the till, will often bring a saving of 10% or more on the goods you are buying.  Don’t be afraid to show your card – one of its benefits is saving you money!

Signup to Daily Discount sites – the proliferation of sites across the UK offering substantial discounts on a daily basis is growing.  With the success of these, including Groupon, LivingSocial, Groupola, a whole host of national and local papers are also joining the bandwagon.  Most of these sites offers discounts for particular cities so ensure that you sign-up to the right city to get the best deals.

Rent your unused items – a number of sites are springing up that sit under the Collaborative Consumption banner.  RentMyItems is one of them and you can list items for a nominal listing fee and people at your University, or in the local community, can rent those items from you.  So whether it be last year’s text books, a computer game, bike, printer or a beer-making kit earn money from your little-used goods.  With 2 months free-listings following registration list you items on RentMyItems today and you’ll be in with a chance to win £100 iTunes vouchers – at no expense to you!

Sharing makes you happy – a recent study in the Journal of Social Psychology showed that acts of kindness and working together made people happier.  So why not join up with friends and colleagues and start sharing and borrowing of items and services.  If someone is going in their car on a day-trip, why not let others know and let them share the cost of the fuel for the trip?  Or if you know you need a printer for the year why not join with others, each contribute and use the printer as a group?

Think before you buy – certainly one of the easiest and most sensible ways to save money is to make sure that you really do need what you are buying.  Ask yourself “Do I need this or do I just want this?” each time you consider buying something and you’ll be surprised by how many times you’ll decide to keep the money in your pocket rather than handing it over.

There are many other ways of saving a bit and making a little bit extra.  The best advice is to keep your eyes open and make sure that you use the discounts and opportunities available to all students, and those willing to ask.  If you don’t ask, you very often don’t get!

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