Are you starting uni in September and worrying about how to manage your finances? Or are you a returning student wanting to avoid spending most of your student loan in the first fortnight and living on beans for the rest of the term?
Although, as Brits, we generally tend not to discuss money, when it comes to university life, money is a subject we simply have to discuss.
A lot of us receive a loan of thousands of pounds as early as the age of 18 and can leave university in up to £60,000 in debt.
This is a lot to take in, but the good thing about student loans is that we don’t have to pay them back until we can afford to.
Whether you get a student loan or not, here are a few tips I’ve learnt from my first year at university, living in self-catered accommodation in the city.
Unless you live locally, travel costs are something that we must take into account each term. I live in Manchester and use the train to get home. If you travel a lot by train then a 16-25 Railcard is a must!
It costs £30 per year (or £70 for three years) and gets you a third off all rail fares. If you’re looking to open a student bank account, then it is worth noting that you will receive a free railcard with Santander.
If you prefer to travel by coach, then perhaps the National Express Coach Card is better suited to you. It also gets you a third of fares and only costs £12.50 a year.
Getting around the city itself can be expensive. Remember to ask for a student fare on Sheffield buses and if you regularly use the SuperTram it might be worth getting an Annual Unirider pass.
This is on the expensive side (£300 per year) but this entitles you to free tram travel every day of the year. You simply present your pass and your UCard once on-board.
Once you have been given your UCard during Freshers Week you can start asking for the student discount with a lot of local businesses in Sheffield. They tend to offer 10% off all year round.
For high street chains and bigger brands, Unidays is your best friend. You can sign up for free with a college or university email address and you can get money off everything from trainers to Italian food.
Amazon also offers 6 months free access to Amazon Prime for students. That means free next-day-delivery for most of the academic year!
After the trial, it’s only £3.99 per month in comparison to the usual £9.99.
The same thing can be said for Spotify. What would uni be without music?
Spotify have slashed their usual prices for Premium by 50% for those of us who are in school or Higher Education. It’s only £4.99 per month and you can even get access to the Headspace meditation app thrown in for free.
Cheap access to endless music and free meditation during exam time is ideal!
Just get one for everything! Wherever you see one on offer, pick it up and register it.
If you often eat lunch or get coffee at the SU outlets at uni then get a Genius card. You can collect 5 loyalty points each time you spend a £1.
Coffee Revs in the SU also offers a loyalty scheme where you can claim your tenth drink free! All you need to do is get your card stamped!
If this is the first time you’re doing a food shop then locate your nearest Aldi or Lidl. This will save you a lot of money with your average weekly shop for one rarely amounting to more than £20.
Also, shop local! Moor Market in town has plenty of stalls that sell local produce for low prices!
(Photo credit – Helena Dolby)
There is also a Zero Waste shop in the SU where you can refill any of your old bottles (from olive oil to shampoo) for a fraction of the supermarket price!
(Photo credit – Sheffield Students’ Union)
My last piece of advice would be, if you love coffee, it’s going to end up costing you a lot. A budget-friendly way of still getting your caffeine fix is to buy your own espresso maker to use on the hob.
You can find them for a few pounds on Amazon.