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Skills that help you survive university - 29 August


Budgeting

Let’s be realistic here – you’re going to be skint frequently during your university years (if not consistently). However, being permanently penniless is something you can avoid if you take the time to work out a budget, and stick to it. Luckily, we’ve got a great guide to help you get your budget sorted.

A nice option is to get yourself a prepaid budgeting card like this one from Loot, which is specifically aimed at students. Put a certain amount of cash on the card every month and assign this as your disposable income (for food, nights out and other expenses) so this stays separate from your cash for rent and bills.

This way, you're much more likely to stay within the budget you’ve assigned yourself (because you have no choice, essentially) and can keep tabs of what you’ve spent by using the app on your phone that's attached to your card (and how much you have left over at the end of the month to reward yourself with for staying within budget!).

If you're looking for a bit more budgeting help, download our free ebook to get swatted up on how to stay in control of your pennies. You can always check out our save money guides for additional advice too.

Meal planning

Having at least a smidge of routine regarding what you eat and when will prevent you from demolishing a week’s shopping in a day or two and save you a fair wad of cash.

A great tip is to get into the habit of planning your meals – doing a shop once a week with a few dishes in mind (including one meal that can be divvied up into portions to feed you throughout the week). Don’t forget to factor in a few snackables too though, and someemergency hangover supplies!

One thing to ensure is that you never go shopping when you’re hungry. You’ll end up buying things you don’t need 'cause temptations are so much higher when your tummy is rumbling along the aisles, meaning you’ll end up spending a lot more than you can afford.

We’d also recommend trying the supermarket downshift – don’t waste money on overpriced food, and don’t fooled by any of the supermarket’s sneaky tricks they use to get you to spend more.

Make sure you check out our guide to saving money at the supermarket as well as sneakytricks to (legally) score free food!

Asking for help

This goes for all areas of your life – if you're struggling to keep up with coursework (hence all the speed reading and blagging your way through tutorials!), speak to your tutors. If you don't speak up about this stuff, the situation will only get worse as more deadlines pile up.

Likewise, if you're having financial stress (our student money survey this year indicates that 80% of you struggle to make ends meet at uni) it's really important you reach out and get some help.

Asking for some financial support from your rents can be a tough situation for some, but it's also worth remembering that the government calculates how much maintenance loan to give you based on your parents' income.

Therefore, if you're in the lower student loan bracket because your parents have a decent income, it's expected that they will help supplement your loan. Read more on how to have that money discussion with your folks right here.

Where getting some advice is concerned – we're your guys! Take a look at the various money-saving guides we have online, download our free ebook, and even drop us a line directly if you'd prefer and we'll try to help where we can.

Cooking basics

It's not that difficult to eat properly at university. You just have to spend a short amount of time working out the basics and mastering a few really simple meals and you'll be able to feed yourself and save a whole loada cash in the process.

Throwing some pasta and pesto together can make a meal that tides you over for dinner and lunch the next day – you don't have to rely on microwave meals (because they usually taste like crap), or takeaways (because they're expensive, although we have a few tips to get them cheaper now and again!).

We've got a whole load of student budget-friendly recipes for you to try out, as well as a list of  cupboard essentials to get you going.

Figuring out the washing machine

Throwing your clothes into the washing machine probably doesn't cross your mind very often, and you'll probably be avoiding it as much as possible because:

a) the last time you did it your whites came out pink, and
b) it can be such a hassle finding somewhere for them to dry when you have various other housemates with the same idea.

The basic rule is: when you're pulling random items out your drawer to wear purely to avoid doing any washing, it's time to pull your smelly socks up.

Be brave and just get on with it! You can also buy these handy colour catchers that mean you can throw colour in with whites and stop worrying about them turning pink.

Knowing your limits

We all know booze is just a part of student life, but being the drunkest person in the room is never gonna do you any favours.

Knowing what your limits are when it comes to alcohol will make your life at uni a million times easier – easier on your wallet, your social life, on your ability to keep up with course work and to actually make it to occasionally.

Stick to one type of alcohol throughout the night if you can: If you're knocking back the vodka and mixers, don't decide to switch it up with several shots of whatever, before moving onto beer. It won't do you any good, and your head won't thank you for it in the morning (again, these hangover cures might come in handy too).

Don't carry on drinking if you've had enough just because you don't want to look boring. We can assure you that feeling like you're going to be sick and your brain is about to vacate your skull is a lot more boring than dancing without a vodbull in your hand.

Dealing with chores

You have to clean your own mess now – isn't life unfair! Unfortunately, cleaning has to be done from time to time, otherwise your house will end up completely rank and you'll be ashamed to ever let anyone through the front door.

We would suggest using a cleaning rota so everyone mucks in, but they sometimes don't work if you have any particularly lazy housemates and they can cause arguments. So, our advice would be to clean together.

Put some music on, have a laugh and promise each other a little pizza party once the mess is cleaned up (make sure you eat out the box to minimise more mess, mind). This method is way more fun and gets done in half the time.

And if you're worried about having to be the one to splash out on expensive cleaning products, check out this guide to alternative cleaning products and methods that will cost you next to nothing.



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