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Money is tight – four ways to stretch your student budget

So, you’re enjoying your studies and all that goes with it. Except the money side of things, or the lack of money to be precise! With the graduate salary you hope you’ll get feeling like years away, now is the time to be smart with the limited amount of money you have. Try these four ways to stretch your student budget and make it go that much further.

1. Buy cheap food – and make it last

One of the reasons that students eat huge amounts of pasta and noodles is because they’re filling, as well as being cheap. And you can add whatever you want to them to make them taste even better, whether that’s a few veg or some chicken or ham.

No, you can’t live on pasta and noodles forever, but you also shouldn’t spend your budget on five-star meals at all the top restaurants. Instead, buy food that’s on sale and close to it’s sell-by date (you can freeze these foods and they’ll still taste great), use vouchers and coupons and, whatever you do, don’t impulse shop. Or shop when you’re hungry! It’s OK to grab the occasional pizza with friends; just don’t make it a daily or weekly habit.

2. Get a job

Obviously you can’t get a full-time job but you can certainly get a part-time one, which will help to stretch your budget. I know that university can be very stressful and a lot of the time, there’s isn’t enough time for anything other than studying. But there are some on-campus part-time jobs which cater perfectly to this. Try finding a job within your university library or the admissions office, or even in the lab. It will probably only pay the minimum wage, but something is better than nothing.

3. Don’t act like a celebrity

You go home for the holidays and your Nan gives you a cheque for £500.

The first thing is think of is what a great time you can have with this amount of money. “Who wants pizza?! It’s on me!” “Shots all around!” etc, etc.

BUT. Take a reality check here. You’re completely skint with student loans piled as high as the ceiling. So the best thing you can do is focus on making that cash last, and not spending it as if you’re a movie star.

4. Reduce those small daily spends

Yes that takeaway Americano with caramel gives you a much-needed caffeine rush every morning, but it also depletes your student budget one cup at a time.

Whatever your guilty pleasure may be, try and limit it to just the occasional treat. Or, even better, replace it with a much less costly one. I know that a mug of instant coffee, or even a glass of chilled tap water, isn’t gonna taste as nice , but it’ll definitely save you a huge amount of money in the long run.

I hope these tips help you to make the most of your meagre student budget. If you can learn to live frugally, reign in those money-draining habits and make purchases wisely, when you do graduate and are finally bringing in a significantly more amount of money each month, you’ll feel comfortable treating yourself and your friends to the finer things in life. You’ll enjoy it even more for having waited.

(Original article by Chad Jarrah of Top Universities)

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