By Emma Guinness
From wasting hundreds of pounds on textbooks that I never even read to spending a lot more than was necessary on a night out, it’s safe to say that I’ve wasted a lot of money as a student. Now, as I approach the end of my undergraduate degree, I want to share what I have learned in an attempt to prevent others from making the same mistakes.
From the outset of my degree, the number one needless expense has been books.
“You really don’t need to buy the majority of the books on the reading list. I’ve wasted so much money over the past few years,” I recently said to a friend.
“Yeah, I wish someone had told me that sooner,” he replied.
The fact that I was daft enough to buy A Medical History Of Humanity for a history class is testament to this. A book which, for the past two years, has sat on a shelf gathering dust.
At the beginning of each semester, booklist in hand, I wish that I had asked myself the following questions: Is the book available as an eBook? If not, is it in the library? Why not half the price of the required book (second hand, obviously) with someone else in the class? If I had, I would probably be a few hundred pounds richer than I am right now.
The second needless expense has been alcohol/drinks in general.
It may seem like an innocent little Starbucks coffee, but one quickly becomes two, and BOOM, you have spent seven pounds. Now that I am a little older and savvier, I have cottoned onto the fact that small supermarket branches are treasure troves for students. Nine times out of ten you will find litre bottles of Lucozade tactically placed at the front of the store for only a pound. Don’t get me wrong, treats are nice, but if, like me, you are financing yourself with a part time job, it’s more sensible to stick with the cheaper option.
With regards to alcohol, the best place to go is Strathclyde’s own student union. The Union is particularly good as you will get nice, un-watered down drinks, and you can reasonably expect to spend less than ten pounds on a night out – depending on how much you are drinking. Looking back, I feel like a first class idiot for making TGI Friday’s my haunt of choice for the first two years of my degree. Again, perfectly okay for a treat, but when there’s a cheap, good quality opinion on campus, why go anywhere else?
The third needless expense naturally follows on from number two: food.
As a student who lived at home, you’d think that this would not be an issue for me, but when I was faced with hours of studying in the library, the temptation to purchase a feast was irresistible. It was only in my third year that I realised just how much money I could save through the act of making a sandwich rather than buying one each day. Another great way to save money whilst studying is to make a flask of tea or coffee instead of buying it.
For those who are living in student accommodation, however, I have received an insider’s tip from my sister who works in one of the aforementioned small supermarket branches. Between eight and nine at night, the final reductions on food take place, and, according to her, you can save up to 80% on food. This includes items such as fruit and vegetables, poultry and bread – perfect for students who have perhaps been a bit too indulgent with their loans.
There are, however, a number of ways in which I could have saved money from the beginning of my time at university if only I’d been aware of the importance of the following:
My student card. This is particularly good for shopping; although 10% off in, for example, Topshop and New Look may not seem like a lot, it certainly adds up over time.
The SR app. All you have to do is download the app, and show it when it’s relevant for discounts. These include cheap drinks, two for one offers in restaurants in and around Glasgow (such as Ketchup in the West End), and it can also be used for cloakroom deals/guest list entry in clubs.
Snapfax cards. You can obtain Snapfax codes almost every year at Fresher’s week, and they are not something to be missed. These are particularly useful when it comes to obtaining codes for reductions on food that is ordered online, and deals on things such as haircuts.
Sincerely from a final year undergraduate student: learn from my mistakes.document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);