8 Oct 2012

university: ways to save money, part II

This is a follow up post to the first part. Here, I add a few more tips to the ones I originally discussed. I hope the ones mentioned previously were useful and if not, I hope the following prove more so.

I'll dive straight in then.

* Please note that any external links are NOT sponsored. They are linked so that if anyone interested can click through to that site. *

1) Need a haircut? Need an office chair for your desk in your new flat? Don't think of buying new/buying at all! Gumtree is a good place to look for haircuts. One of my friends' replied to an ad on Gumtree asking for people who wanted a free haircut as some students would be cutting. Now, this could swing either way - you could come away with a brilliant new hair-do (like she did) or you can come away with a mohawk when you asked for bangs.

Credit: Gadget Monkeys

Now, for furniture and other bits and bobs. Freecycle is another good site. One thing I don't recommend obtaining second hand are duvets, mattresses, etc. Desks should be fine and normal wooden chairs should also be fine (but check for infestations too).

2) Are you heading into your second/third year where accommodation is no longer guaranteed by the university? Renting in the private sector for the first time? Don't be scared. Honestly. Here are some simple steps:

a) Work out your maximum budget. It can help to see how much you're getting from Student Finance if you have no idea about your budget. Remember to take into account travel costs, bills, food and other expenditure too (such as nights out, etc).

b) Now, you can start house hunting. This next bit is quite specific to London though, so I do apologise in advance!

c) When you start looking, it can be tempting to look in the areas directly next to the university. Because I was at Imperial College in London, the areas directly next to the university were South Kensington, Knightsbridge, Sloane Square, High Street Kensington, etc. Not exactly a student-budget-friendly area! So I looked to the west a bit and I came across Gloucester Road and Earl's Court. Because these two areas were within walking distance, I could afford to pay a little bit more in terms of rent as I wouldn't have to fork out for a travelcard or season ticket.

However, it is worth considering living a bit further out. Especially if the cost of rent is considerably lower. You might have a 16-25 railcard which would entitle you to a third off a 'pay-as-you-go' Oyster Card. You could also apply for a 18+ Photo travelcard from TFL which would give you a hefty discount on season tickets.

3) Fond of eating out? A Taste Card or a Gourmet Society Card may come in handy.

Credit: Taste Card

Taste Card usually have deals where you can get a 30 day free trial and if you have an extensive friend network, it might be worth taking it in turns to apply for one ;) Discounts can be as much as 50% off the food bill only or 25% with some of the restaurants partaking in the Gourmet Society card deal.

Before you do eat out though, consider first, is it worth it? Could you rustle up a decent or a better meal for less and for more fun too? Remember, cooking with friends can be entertaining and full of laughs.

4) Does your university offer any jobs you could apply for? At Imperial, I was an open day tour guide and was paid £10 for a 30 minute tour around campus! It didn't interfere with my work at all and it was a welcome break from revision sometimes! I did three tours in my final year £30 for 90 minutes work isn't bad at all!

Another thing to consider is stewarding at university union events. Or other Union jobs. Might be worth contacting your Student Union about as shifts are usually flexible as they aim to employ students.

5) Bursaries and Scholarships
Are you eligible? You don't know til you research it. For a few minutes of research, you could be a few hundred or thousand richer!

If you are eligible, it might be worth opening a high interest account and putting the money in there if you don't technically need it (if your student loan is enough to live on).

6) Gym and Exercise
Is a 6-month gym membership really worth it? I was quite lucky as the gym and sports facilities were free for all students when I was at university and as far as I know, we were the only uni that offered this.

Credit: Sport Imperial

If you're a running freak, running outdoors is more interesting than running on a treadmill indoors. Plus, pink cheeks from the cold is a more attractive look than red cheeks from the turned-up heating indoors, right?

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