Saving as a student- is it really possible?

Saving as a student- is it really possible?
11th November 2021

Saving as a student- is it really possible?

“A penny saved is a penny earned”

Student life is a phase when we are not earning enough, but yet it is also a time that exposes us to the fancy world of expenditures. In a world where everyone talks about their expenses, it is feasible for students to think about good old spending. University can mark the start of a new chapter in one’s life. The experience can be intensive, stressful, and unpredictable, yet many people choose to embark on this learning experience to work hard and graduate with good grades with the intention of finding employment in their desired area of work. But at what cost to their well-being and financial situation with some students making sacrifices, such as buying cheap meals and takeaways. In 2015, a survey found that 40% of students had gone without food because they were concerned about their financial situation. Fortunately, I chose to live at home, which helped lessen the financial burden as I did not have to worry about paying the rent and bills. I also felt more comfortable living at home than living in student accommodation, plus travelling to the university and back home was possible as the journey was no more than 2 hours. As part of my university experience, I joined societies such as Baking, Anime and Performing Arts society to help me integrate into university life. Financial difficulties also make it difficult to save, however when you’re a student, sometimes you can have a relaxed attitude towards saving those pounds, and it can be easy to think more about what you want to spend money on during the short term and present than in the future, which is an attitude that really needs to be changed. I think one needs to learn saving first before learning to spend.

The saving journey is different for everyone; as a student, it was tough to save as I wanted to save but did not know where to start. There were no tools available or workshops at the university on pointers on how to save. I had two attitudes in regard to saving; one part of me wanted to prioritise saving and was worried about not saving, but the other part of me wanted to live in the moment and spend on the here, and now, it was a constant battle in my mind of saving or spending I am sure many of you will understand this conundrum in which I was facing.

In the third and fourth years at university, I did a placement year and a gap year; I worked during this time but was not able to save because I was earning very little and had more responsibilities on my shoulders during this time and had to contribute to the cost of the household. I have always liked exploring new countries, and as a student, this was no different, as I was a big spender, I would occasionally ensure that I was able to go on holiday by splitting the cost of the holiday with family when the financial situation at home was not in our favour, I would pay my part of the holiday costs as soon as I had enough funds in my account.

Before going back to university to complete my final year after taking a gap year, my financial situation had improved, so I had more opportunities to save. But with university education being intensive, especially in the last year, it could be a challenge to allocate time to research and find ways to inform myself of saving strategies and open a savings account to start saving. Again having workshops at university for this may have helped.

What have I learnt about saving during university?

  1. Inform yourself on whether you qualify for Hardship funds
    • Students may be eligible for hardship funds if they come from low-income families, are homeless, have lived in care or are single parents
  2. Inform yourself on whether you can apply for bursaries and grants
    • Applying for bursaries and grants are usually done before starting university, but you may still be able to apply once you have begun your studies
  3. Saving Strategy
    • Apply a saving strategy before your spending strategy, such as transferring money to your savings as soon as you are paid
  4. Saving accounts
    • Open an account or accounts and choose them wisely; you could open an Easy access account and also have a notice fix bond which helps keep you disciplined when it comes to your finances as you will not be able to access the account whenever you like, discouraging the temptation to withdraw funds for unnecessary reasons. However, it is your decision to make; you decide how you want to manage your savings
  5. The adventurous life: Save on Excursions
    • Visit accessible locations; most museums still have free entry and free galleries which you can view and take pictures of, such as the History Museum and Museum of London
    • Go to parks have picnics while catching up with friends
    • Sometimes there are opportunities to see theatre shows for free if you volunteer some of your time towards helping a theatre, such as volunteering as an Usher
      “They say the best things in life are free, and sometimes this is true.”
  6. Transport
    • Railcards are an excellent way of saving money to travel around London, and outside of London, those aged 16-25 or in full-time education are eligible for a railcard, which enables you to purchase tickets at a 1/3 of the original price.
  7. Working where you enjoy shopping
    • As a student you could work in places where you enjoy shopping in such retail, game and make up stores as then you have access to discounts, so you end up saving while you shop
  8. Party life
    • Going to a Student Union bar before a big night out saves you those pennies as drinks are cheaper, and they have events and can be a way to start your night out
    • Some nightclubs are free entry before a specific time; look out for this and offer discounted drinks during happy hour.

Fast-forward to the present day, and my thought process regarding saving and ideas is something I wish I had as a student at university, but you know what they say, it is never too late. Presently I apply the save first, spend later strategy. I do not worry about saving a significant amount; I save what I can because I know it will add up. By applying this strategy, it means that even if I have more expenses than expected, my money for saving has already been set aside each month; so far, since I started saving, I have not needed to withdraw from my savings. I have also been saving money by going to museums that mostly have free entry and go to both free and paid exhibitions. I spend less on outings overall now than I did in university days, which usually had paid access and costly excursions. My attitude towards saving has changed drastically because I prioritise setting money aside every month rather than thinking about it and not taking action. As I save each month, I envision a future of financial security where I can access extra funds when needed. Priorities change as we get older and go through different experiences; you realise what is important in life, and saving is one of them.