‘I don’t have any money’ proclaimed every student that’s attended university in the last century or so. But right now, in 2017, there’s never been more truth behind the statement.
Thanks to the impact of inflation on everyday living costs, current students are finding their financial situation trickier than ever before.
This doesn’t bode well for Freshers’ Week, one of the biggest events in the student calendar. Almost 40% of students, past and present, who participated in our recent survey agreed that the rise in costs prevented them enjoying the week properly, while over a fifth of current students and recent grads found themselves facing difficulties after spending a whopping £500 or more on the seven-day event.
On average, though, students in Edinburgh blow £426 during Freshers’ Week, while those in London hand over £394 and Sheffield students spend roughly £334 – which, when you add the cost of books, stationary, food and everything else – equals one very expensive first week at university.
If you’re about to start your first semester, there’s no need to panic. You won’t have to miss out on making new friends, discovering a new city and taking part in the event completely – thanks to our tips you can still enjoy Freshers’ Week on a budget!
Set a daily budget
It’s so easy to miscalculate how much you’ll need for an entire semester, so work out a monthly budget based on your loan and/or savings. Consider every expense and be real when it comes to the cost of food, activities and university supplies. In NUS’ Student Experience Report for 2016, school leavers largely underestimated the price of being a student, with the average annual amount coming to £445.44 more than they initially thought!
After you’ve worked out your monthly income, split it by four then into seven – this’ll then be your daily allowance for Freshers’ week.
Feeling stuck? Ask your parents or an older university student for help, they’ll be able to set realistic budgets with you.
Avoid contactless payments
You’re at the bar, it’s dark and you’re keen to get back to your new friends on the dancefloor so you pay the quickest way you can – with a contactless card. It might feel like the easy option at the time, but don’t forget contactless payments can take up to 4 days to show up in your account.
Don’t spend Freshers’ Week thinking you have more money than you do, only to receive a nasty shock when you check your bank statement a week later. Take cash, or always use your debit card the traditional way and enter your pin. Transactions like this show up almost instantly.
Make the most of student discounts
Students benefit from hundreds of exclusive discounts, on food, drinks, events and more, so when you do go out check where you can get the best deal. Remember, there’s no harm in asking a venue if they offer student discount either – you’ll find many local pubs and restaurants around campus do!
You’ll also discover freebies all over campus during Freshers’ Week. Don’t miss out on Freshers’ fairs – loads of brands and local businesses attend and you never know what you’ll get there. At the very least, it’s a great place to stock up on free tote bags and stationary for the semester.
Swap the night out for a free activity
Despite what you’ve probably heard, Freshers’ Week isn’t all about drinking. There are tons of events you can attend without spending a single penny, from free gigs and local quizzes to salsa lessons. Research your university’s ‘give-it-a-go’ taster sessions too, they’re offered by various societies and they can be a great way to make friends who share similar interests to you.
Shop second-hand for books
Midway through Freshers’ Week, it’ll probably dawn on you that you actually need to buy a few things before lectures start. Don’t be the fool that spends hundreds of pounds on brand new books unless you have to – search online, check the library or browse in local charity shops and campus bookstores for second-hand copies. It’s worth seeing if your university course has a Facebook group too – many students sell their previous years’ books here.
Don’t forget, our budgeting tips are relevant all year round. Spend wisely and you’re guaranteed to have a brilliant time at university, no matter where you go and what you’re studying!