I remember when I first started university; I was wonderfully naive and thought that my student loan and grant for the semester would leave me with plenty of money to spare. Oh boy was I wrong. Once you account for the cost of all those nights outs, brunches with coursemates, and that kabab you just have to have on the way home from the nightclub, you realise that the funds you have don’t go nearly as far as you would like them to. Or at least, in my experience, they don’t.
The good news is that it’s easier than you would think to lead a savvier life, it’s just a case of knowing how to cut costs and live life on the cheap. It took me a while to adjust, I will admit, but once I had mastered the art of reducing my spending, I found that life was much more enjoyable – no more living off of just pasta and pesto, I could live properly and enjoy my time away from home, being independent.
So, what did I do?
I clipped coupons. Well, kind of…
I have never actually ‘clipped coupons’ before, as I don’t think that’s really a thing in the UK?! Instead, I took advantage of online discount codes and deals. I used sites like Muscle Food to order my meat – I’d order their bargain hampers and freeze anything that I couldn’t eat within the use by date which was always A LOT of food. (Usually, one of their hampers would last me like a month and would only cost between £40 and £60.) I also became addicted to sites like LatestDeals.co.uk, especially when they had deals from the likes of Cadbury – I love Cadbury deals and I am addicted to their products! (I am a major chocoholic…)
I batch cooked
I realised that I was living off a lot of ready meals – pizza, fresh pasta and sauce, frozen foods, etc. Not only were these foods costly but they also weren’t good for me and my waistline, so I decided to switch to batch cooking. Every time that I made a meal, I would double up the ingredients and then put any leftovers – usually, there was about three meals worth leftover – into Tupperware and freeze. That way, on evenings where my lectures ran late, I didn’t have to eat ready meals, I could grab something out of the freezer and reheat it. By doing this I saved money and led a healthier life – I actually still batch cook now, five years on.
I ignored brands
Now, there are some foods that I will not compromise on and buy unbranded of, like Baked Beans, it has to be Heinz, but there are other foods that I will gladly buy the unbranded versions of, such as mayonnaise, ketchup, soup, bread, butter, yogurt, milk – the list could go on and on. The point is that there are some things that taste the same whether they are branded or not, and buying unbranded for half the price, can save you a lot of money and is worth doing.
There you have it, a few of my favourite cost-cutting tips that helped to make my life as a student much more affordable.