Great 'Your Top Tips For New Uni Students' Hunt

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  • As a student you are eligible for massive discounts on Microsoft software, for example you can pick up a full copy of Microsoft Office Enterprise for £35, saving a whopping £450 off retail price.

    Search for "Microsoft Education" for more information
  • Katie-Kat-Kins
    Katie-Kat-Kins Posts: 1,741 Forumite
    edited 21 August 2009 at 11:22AM
    Ok my top tips:

    1. If you already have a weekend/evening/holiday job see if they can arrange a transfer to a convenient branch. Means you will have a job all set up for money when you are at uni and will probably find transferring back during the hols easier too. It is well worth working through uni, you will certainly have time, it will be sociable and will earn/save you money, if you work throughout you should be able to save enough to support yourself without working for the last term before your finals.

    2. NEVER NEVER NEVER sign for a shared house on one contract where you are "jointly and severally liable" this is a recepie for financial disaster. Find a house where each tennant has a separate contract. It can be slightly more difficult to find a landlord content with this but you do not want to risk being liable for another student's rent and bills if he clears off or drops out part way through the term.

    3. READ your contract before signing for a rented house. Don't be afraid to ask for changes to be made if you are unhappy with any clauses and check the inventory before handing over your deposit. It wasn't until our letting agent laughed at us for doing this and complained about law students that I realised how many people don't do this. It is important you are aware of what you are agreeing to.

    4. Don't take loads of kitchen equipment with you, it only makes for extra washing up and potential arguements. You won't have much storage either. Buy the bare minimum and if there is anything that you haven't got between all your housemates you can always head to wilkos.

    5. Books could be your biggest expense, work out how to get these cheaply, whether you can pick some up second hand or get discounts. Try getting a job in a book shop for staff discounts. Also get together with housemates on your course and buy 50% of the books each and share if you aren't likely to NEED your own personal copy. We each bought a copy of the compulsory texts and then each bought a different one of the additional texts and pooled resources.

    6. Before you rent a property check out proximity to the train station, and your local bus routes.

    7. Get comfy walking shoes and a waterproof coat before you go, walking is the cheapest way to get around and will keep you fit too.

    8. Take your NUS card everywhere you go and ask everywhere whether they do student discount. Lots of places do but don't advertise it.

    9. If you get on well with your housemates consider a kitty system and sharing things like milk and bread, or buy full loaves of bread and freeze them in quarters so your bread doesn't go off before you use it and buy small cartons of long life milk.

    10. Keep a record of your meter readings from when you move in and out even after you have supplied them to the electricity company in case of disputes. Send a copy to your landlord/letting agent.

    11. Check you have the necessary TV licence. A fine is not good money saving. If you have a TV in your own private lockable room (like in halls) you probably need an individual licence, if you have a shared house then you probably just need one for the whole house.

    Hope some of that helps.
  • Join studentbeans.com, brilliant site which offers vouchers for students, including 2 for 1 at the cinema, 2 for 1 meals, free drinks, money off vouchers - brilliant. The student version of this, basically.

    Also, may be good to go with Natwest for your student bank account. 5 year railcard for free has saved me absolutely loads of money. Especially when I'm travelling to and from town, home, visiting friends etc. Also, a sneaky tip is (if you're sure you won't need it - and this is a good deterrent) - take out your entire overdraft and put it in an ISA, (the Natwest e-ISA is good), get interest on it and then at the end of the year, give back the overdraft, having made a little profit :)

    Furthermore, get a vodkarevs card (only applicable if you're going to go to Vodka Revolution) as you get LOADS of money off things.

    In Freshers week, there will be loads of local bars/clubs/restaurants offering discount cards - get them all! Even if you've never heard of it and you're pretty sure you'll never go, it's vital.

    Furthermore, check out the Uni website/freshers fayre for money making tips. I got a random card off a tiny stand at the freshers' fayre and it ended up being a teaching placement for 15 days, no experience, no interest in teaching needed that paid £600! Can't be bad!

    Don't buy ANY books first hand if you can, it's really really expensive. I bought loads of mine on ebay, amazon 2nd hand and also at a small sale we had at the Uni, where 2nd year students sold their books to 1st years. Books are reeeeaaaally expensive (2 of my compulsory books were over £50).

    Take lots of passport photos, but buy them on the cheap. Costco, for example, offer really cheap passport photos, you will find it cheaper than the booths, which can be pricey.

    Finally, I totally agree with comments above - just enjoy freshers week. It's the absolute best week of your life. Buy loads of fancy dress, drinks, club entries - everthing, you'll totally regret it later if you don't.
  • In no particular order:

    •Never buy textbooks before lectures start - the course info may have some recommended reading, but the lecturer will usually tell you which are the best books to get. When you do have to buy books, check the noticeboards in your uni (union, the building your lectures are in etc) and the charity shops nearby before you try anything online.

    •Make sure you have a tin-opener. And a bottle opener. And a pair of scissors.

    •If you like the idea of eating fresh veg, but not the time it takes to cook exciting things, buy yourself a double-decker bamboo steamer from a chinese supermarket. Should cost about £5 (or less!), and it cooks vegetables really fast!
    Just boil some water in a big pan (just a couple of cms in the bottom, not enough to cover the base of the steamer). Thinly slice some potatoes and a leek and put in the bottom layer with some fresh parsley*, salt and pepper, and put the bottom half in the steamer (with the lid on). While that's cooking, chop a big carrot into matchsticks or rounds and put in one side of the top layer of the steamer. Squeeze some lemon juice and maybe a bit of hyoney onto the carrots. Add peas to the other side, and sprinkle with chopped fresh mint*. If you can think of a third veg, stick that in the space left to you, and put the top layer on. Give it about 10-15min, and check the potatoes and carrots are cooked. Serve with the meat, fish or soya product of your choice! You can also cook fish or meat in the bottom layer, but don't forget to scrub it out when you're done and make certain it's properly cooked. Even better, you can get cheap bags of frozen veg and just steam it straight from frozen.

    • *Grow your own herbs from the supermarket - just buy them when they're reduced (but not yet dead) and repot them into a bigger container. Stick on the windowsil, water daily and voila, fresh herbs! Mint is the easiest to grow, basil is okay, parsley relatively easy so long as you keep it watered, and corriander is a pain in the backside ;)

    •Don't buy groceries that you think you 'ought' to have, only what you're actually going to eat/use. Sounds obvious, but most people have experienced the shock of discovering that they don't actually use 12 eggs a week, or a giant carton of yoghurt. Try and make a plan of what you want to cook and buy groceries accordingly.
    :coffee:Coffee +3 Dexterity +3 Willpower -1 Ability to Sleep

    Playing too many computer games may be bad for your attention span but it Critical Hit!
  • If you're getting a printer for uni, and can afford the extra cost I'd suggest getting a laser rather than an inkjet printer (colour laser is even better).
    The ink lasts much longer (the initial cartridges I had which were only 1/3 full lasted 15 months), and replacement toner cartridges can be sourced off ebay for around £20 (compared to the £50+ in shops).
    Additionally, it means you can print off your 100 page coursework in much less time, allowing you to work a bit closer to the deadline!
  • 1) Don't be tempted to buy one of those kitchen starter packs with hundred of spoons, pans, plastic boxes etc- they may look like good value but you'll not use 90% of it. Don't take more than a large saucepan, a frying pan, a wooden spoon and spatula, a really cheap set of cutlery and a couple of cheap plates/bowls.

    2) Don't buy a kettle, sandwich toaster or toaster. The chances are that everyone else in your flat/halls will have had the same idea and you'll have 6 toasters knocking around the kitchen for the next year. If it turns out that nobody has bought one it's easy enough to pop out on the day you move in to go and buy the cheapest possible ones on the market: don't get anything good as somebody will inevitably break it.

    3) Don't buy anything 'nice'. When I went to university I was bought expensive pans, cutlery etc to last me for years after university. It's not fun when a drunk housemate decides throw the tupperware they've just melted in the microwave into your good wok thus ruining it.

    4) Start the year with one of those huge 3kg bags of dried pasta. You'll never go hungry at any point. A large supply of 8p noodles also does the same job (actually it's been a while- they might be as much as 10p a pack these days)

    5) As soon as you get there see if there are any union jobs going- student ambassadors, bar work etc. All the second and third years know how and where to get these jobs so you'll need to beat them to it before they are all gone. These jobs run by the SU tend to be much more flexible than employers in the local town centre.

    6) Don't waste any time in getting involved in clubs/societies/student media/student politics. They can sometimes lead to jobs (being president/vice president etc) with the union at the end of your degree and the more experience you've got at the end the better.

    7) Remember that anything you put in the fridge or freezer is pretty much a free for all. Don't expect it to still be there when you go to eat it.

    8) Don't assume the SU bar is the cheapest place for a night out and shop around. When I was at uni the local Wetherspoons was cheaper.

    9) Use the library for course books at first. If there's a book you really need find out if there is a second hand book shop/service on campus and if not look at amazon for second hand books and even better try and 'book share' with someone on your course and pay half each.

    10) If you've got nice housemates try and share things like bread and milk.
    Currently unemployed (redundancy) but in control of my finances and hoping to get a new job, start a Masters course and save up for a house. A tough challenge but MSE will get me through it. :)
  • In my Opinion the one thing every student needs is moneysavingexpert.com ! !
    Has helped me loads throughout last year, just a bit of money saving here & there adds up :rolleyes:.

    & Defo make the most of the wee discount cards & free entry to clubs cards they give out at freshers week. If you live in halls most of the clubs will be in walking distance so no taxi fares to pay for (or long taxi ques to stand in at 4am !)

    Most of all though, enjoy it ;). Being a students the best excuse to have fun 24/7 :rolleyes:
    Whats meant to be will always find its way...;)
  • I was useless with my student loan for years but finally cracked how to manage my generous self in the final year of an art degree (expensive), with enough cash to buy Christmas presents, expensive art materials and money left over at the end of the degree to go on my first (well deserved!) holiday in years. And I didn't work part-time that year either!! So this method is really useful if you tend to spend all of your loan within the first 2 months.

    How? Divide the loan/grant between an ISA and an easy access savings account (i used olnline), leaving only about £2/300 in your current account. The psychology is important, as you never feel flush enough to splurge. Keep the end-of-semester rent plus emergency money in the ISA then relax knowing at least you always have rent. Then, whenever you run low in your current account, be 'generous' and give yourself what you need from the online savings. Don't worry about losing interest as saving isn't the point here - it's the psychology of ebbing too much spending. You feel a little bit skint and adjust behaviour accordingly, but know you're not really. When the savings account runs low at the end of the semester, switch to drawing from the ISA. Again, don't worry about losing interest - it's not about that. It's more about forcing yourself to be on a budget and having security at the same time - a double security too! I often had a couple of hundred pounds left in the ISA that would run over into the next payment.

    -A student ambassador/mentor job is a great way of supplementing and good for your cv too.

    - Be aware of Hardship Funds if you do run out of money and the Access Grant if you are from a low-income background. These are invaluable sources of cash that those in need don't always know about

    -Tinned mackerel. Cheap, instant protein. Sustainable. Got the Omegas. Brain food. (Fry til crisp with pepper and eat with sweet chilli sauce mmmm)
  • davidphi
    davidphi Posts: 14 Forumite
    A couple of tips I learnt during my time at Uni

    1) Cook a Sunday roast. Not only will you be the envy of your housemates, by buying a decent sized piece of meat (try pork leg, a shoulder of lamb or a chicken for good value, anything beefy if it’s on a discount), you’ll get a nice roast dinner with lots of veggies, then meat to put into a stir fry with some more veg, curries, or mixed with a can of tomatoes and some herbs over rice etc and be able to eat well for at least another 2 meals, without having to buy any more meat to put in it.
    2) If you’ve been used to going food shopping with your parents when you were younger, remember that the reason they bought large packs of eggs, multiple loaves of bread etc was because there were a number of hungry mouths to feed. You’ll be surprised at how little you will actually need.
    3) Go to the supermarket with a list of items you need to cook with and stick to it.
    4) Take advantage of the discount alcohol promotions at the supermarkets. That off license on the corner may be convenient, but it will probably be expensive. And it’s much cheaper than the student union (but make sure you do go... it’s a great place to meet people)
    5) If you are interested and your Uni has one, join the Scuba Diving club – you will never get a cheaper chance to learn how to Scuba Dive anywhere else. Free tuition and normally just the cost of the air fills and some basic equipment... I did it in my final year as a treat, and it was brilliant!
    6) If you have a computer you use for Uni work, make sure you regularly copy the important things on to a CD and keep it safe. Lecturers tend not to accept “my computer broke losing all my work” as an excuse. (It’s not exactly money saving this one, more sanity saving!). There are plenty of online backup locations you can use too – Google Docs, Microsoft Office Live / SkyDrive, so you can access them from home and from Uni.

    I also like the idea above about getting a laser printer to print off your work – if you are doing a subject that requires lots of essay writing, then printing at Uni will cost upwards of 6p per page. Have a look on ebay for second hand ones from companies that don’t use them anymore, but be cautious about getting a big one – they have parts that are expensive to replace. Many of the smaller ones contain these parts in the toner (the “ink”) element, which perversely can work out cheaper! You can also then charge your mates to print off their work using your printer, for a discount on the Uni price, but still making a little profit. Another benefit is that you won’t have to queue for the printer when it’s busy at the end of term for dissertations...

    Good luck to anyone starting this year!
  • In my first year I joined a good group of friends who all lived in the same hall complex. After a month or so we created a cooking collective. Each person cooked an evening meal once a week. The washing up was done by the person who cooked the day before. All leftovers were bagsies for lunch the next day. We also pooled together for cleaning supplies (it means you can buy a bigger bottle - works our cheaper - and there's less waste) and general day to day stuff like milk, eggs, bread and condiments. Plus one of us worked at TESCO so got a staff discount. It's lasted three years and has been great.

    I would definitely recommend new students to try and start one up. Oh and make friends with students with a staff discount at a supermarket! :tongue:
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