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5 Student-Friendly Christmas Budgeting Tips

MoneyStudentsTips and Advice

Being a student means you're all too familiar with the feeling of being strapped for cash. With Christmas just around the corner, this time of year can cause an extra strain on your bank account, with the added cost of secret Santas, Christmas drinks, and buying presents for your friends and family. Whether you work part-time or living off your loan, this little guide will hopefully save you some money, not just in the lead-up to Christmas, but throughout your time at university. These tips have helped me loads since my first year and believe me they really do work. So, let’s get down to my 5 student-friendly Christmas budgeting tips!

1. Budget

Organising your money is very important. As soon as I receive my student loan, the first thing I do is pay the rent. Then I’ll look at any other payments which need to go out, for example, gym membership. Afterwards, I’ll split the money into however many weeks I will need it for. For me personally I split this money termly (10 weeks usually). At this point I’ll have a clearer idea of how much money I can spend each week. I usually have a few sections depending on the time of year: food shopping, birthdays, supplies, spending money. These can obviously be changed depending on what you need personally. Budgeting makes life a whole lot easier because you can see clearly what you can spend where, meaning less stress.

2. Bulk Buying

Another key tip is buying items such as pasta, rice, tea, coffee, items which can usually be kept for a long period of time. For example, when buying a small bag of pasta for say £2 for 500g, you may be able to buy a much larger bag for say £4 for 2kg. I try to bulk buy at the start of term so that I don’t have to keep purchasing it repeatedly. I also share with housemates, we all chip in to buy soaps, toilet paper and other items which we all use. This saves money and makes things easier, e.g. £4 pack of 12 toilet paper split between 4 people is £1 every month. In the long run, bulk buying is very useful and it also saves some time instead of going to the shops every 5 minutes. 

3. Plan your meals

I will admit this is one of my favourite tips (yes, I realise this is quite sad). Plan your meals for the week. Making a list of what to make for breakfast, lunch and dinner, makes the shopping process much easier once you are in the shop or shopping online. Lists give you a clear idea about what you are buying, decreasing buying unwanted items. Also, don’t forget to take your own shopping bags so you don’t have to waste your 5p’s (and the guilt of wasting plastic)! Batch cooking also saves time and money. I find that food shopping online is also a good option to saving some money because, for one, you can see all the deals and offers the shop has to offer. It also reduces the number of impulse buys, as you are just typing in the items you want and clicking them, unlike being in a shop where your eyes can wander to other isles you don’t particularly need. My top tip here also is to never ever shop when you are hungry, you will want to buy everything!

4. Cheapest Options

There are a few ways in which you could do this next tip. The first way is to stay in one shop and see the cheapest options for say, pizza. If you are wanting pizza, you have the choice of shop’s own, or a branded one. Now obviously, again, personal preference has to be taken into account, but if you able to do so, choose the shop’s own brand which will most likely be cheaper. However, don’t forget to look at the shop’s deals for the day, e.g. 3 for 2 or buy 3 for £4, as there are usually options like this. Another option which I do often (which keeps you fit as well!) is going from one shop to another and comparing the prices. For example, if you want some deodorant, there are plenty of shops you can go to and see which is the cheapest and compare the prices. It’s doubtful that all your time will be taken up in courses/seminars so use your spare time wisely to shop around!

5. Charity Shops

I know that text books for university can be very expensive but there are quite a few options for where you purchase them from. For one, the internet and the library are always the first places I go for the books I need for my modules. But, if these options don’t have what I would like, charity shops in the town centre are a brilliant place to look, especially in a town where there are loads of university students, as they donate their books when they no longer need them. Of course the bigger online retailers are good places to look if what I listed don’t have the books you are after. Charity shops are also a great place to find cheaper clothing if other shops seem too expensive. They usually have some great finds, so have a good look around to see what they have to offer. Charity shops are also a brilliant place to find Christmas presents, especially books, at a fraction of the price compared to the high street (and you can feel good about it too!). So now I hope you have a much better idea of what to do in order to save some money. I know the idea of saving can sometimes seems quite daunting, but these tips really do help, they definitely helped my university friends and I. Tweak and change these money saving tips to suit you and your needs. Everyone at university is in the same boat, we all struggle financially sometimes, so try and do something about it. Hopefully, I have given you some ideas about where to start. Don’t forget you can also search online and in magazines for more tips and tricks if you want to save even more money! Good luck!
GRB Blog Author and Student - Sarah Blanchard

Sarah is studying English Literature at Lancaster university, and her hobbies include being a gym nut, reading, and photography. 

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