Today’s blog post is a request post from Aadya, who asked if I could talk a little bit about how to budget and manage your money whilst a student here at Manchester. If you have anything which you want me to write about, then please comment and let me know, so I can dedicate a blog post to it over the coming weeks!
Money, and worrying over how to budget is one thing which I think all students have in common, regardless of whether you’re an international student or one from home, but luckily Manchester is comparatively cheap compared to other places in the UK, and as there are so many students in the city, there are lots of student offers available all the time!
I know that it can take a lot of time to plan, but setting yourself a budget and sticking to it is really worth it, to ensure that you live within your means whilst you’re studying. After rent, which I usually pay in bulk at the start of each semester, I leave myself around £70 a week for things such as food, public transport, study expenses and everyday essentials, and this is enough for me to manage on. Over the years, I have managed to find a few tricks to save myself even more money, and I’ll share some of them here with you:
- UNIVERSITY MONEY ADVISORS
No matter how well you think you can manage your money, sometimes it’s nice to have some tips and guidance from a professional money advisor. The University actually offer this, and you can either make an appointment to see somebody, or use their website to learn about all aspects of budgeting and planning as a student. They also offer advice on funding and scholarships which may be available to you to assist in your studies. I’d definitely recommend taking a look at the website before you leave, and bookmarking it on your browser to look at again when you actually arrive in Manchester and have a better idea of your spending.
- STUDENT DISCOUNT
- Perhaps one of the best things about being a student, your University of Manchester student ID card proves that you are a student, and if you flash it in some shops and restaurants, you get money off your purchase. For example, you can save 10% on the price of a Macbook in the Apple Store with your ID card, and you can also get 10% off in Topman/Topshop. I’d also recommend signing up for Unidays, which gives you additional discounts, both online and in stores. I recently went for lunch with my friend at Zizzi, and got 20% off our bill using a Unidays discount!
These discounts are seriously so good, and it’s nice that you can afford to treat yourself to a nice meal, or some new clothes without feeling guilty afterwards 🙂
- TEXTBOOKS AND STUDY EXPENSES
- University isn’t cheap, and one of the biggest costs can be textbooks and study materials. For each module that you study, you will be given a list of recommended books to read, and many people will immediately head to the on-campus bookstore, Blackwells, and buy them all. However, for some modules each book can cost around £50, so this would soon add up. Instead, I choose to borrow all of my books from the university library…for free! You can borrow books from the library for a semester, and you can even access pdf versions of some books online. It really is so useful, and I’ve saved so much money by doing this!
- If you do need to buy your own personal copy of a book, Blackwells buy books from students, and sell them on as used copies for quite cheap. This is something you should definitely look into, too.
- Another main study expense which catches people out is the cost of printing off things. You really don’t realise how expensive it is until you look and realise that you’ve spent £20 in a month on printing credit D: there’s not much you can really do to offset this, but always print in black and white, and print double sided!
- FOOD SHOPPING
- Everyone needs to eat, and whilst there are so many amazing places to eat in Manchester, such as Home Sweet Home, and Turtle Bay, it’s expensive to eat out every day. I know some of you will be in halls of residence where your meals are provided for you, but most of you will be in catered halls, where you make your own food. I love making my own food, and developing my cooking skills, but it can be expensive! I always end up spending most of my budget on Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, instead of fruit and vegetables! So recently, I’ve started to use a meal planner, where I plan what I’m going to make for lunch and dinner each day, and write out a shopping list of what ingredients I’ll need. That way, by sticking to a list, I’m less likely to make those random impulse buys of ice cream, and can work out how much I’m spending.
- I’m also a big fan of leftovers. If I make too much pasta one evening for my dinner, I’ll add some salad and turn it into a pasta salad for the next day’s lunch. Just as delicious as buying a sandwich from one of the stores on campus 🙂
- The main supermarkets in the UK are Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys and Morrisons, and there are many of the shops around the city. Some students also choose to shop online and get these supermarkets to deliver their groceries direct to their home. There are also branches of Aldi and Lidl around the city, and many students choose shop in these two stores as they are significantly cheaper than the aforementioned supermarkets.
- Something else which I think I should mention is that in the UK, you have to pay 5p for carrier bags in supermarkets. This is to try and reduce the amount of bags we throw away so that we as a country become more environmentally-friendly. So I would recommend always taking a rucksack or spare bags with you when you go shopping – you’ll save money AND help the environment
- I will be making a more detailed post on transport around both Manchester and the UK in the coming weeks, but I’ll give you a brief summary now on its affordability :). Owning a car isn’t necessary in the UK, and most students don’t have one as public transport is easily available and affordable, and will get you wherever you want to go. The University of Manchester is situated on one of the busiest bus routes in Europe, and it’s really easy to catch a bus. Additionally, as Manchester is quite a compact city, it’s really easy to walk from your halls of residence, or the city centre, to campus. Some people cycle, too, and there is a lot of engineering work underway at the moment to makes the roads near campus more friendly for cyclists.
- A lot of us in the Orientation Office use an app called “CityMapper” to help us plan our journeys around the city. It works like Google Maps, but offers much more detailed information on public transport, and I think it would be really useful for you all – especially in your first few weeks here in Manchester, when everything is still so overwhelming
- If you plan on travelling around the UK, to see the sights or visit friends who attend other universities, a 16-25 Railcard is something you may want to buy when you arrive in the UK. It gives you 30% of the price of train tickets, and costs £30 for one year. A lot of people want to visit London, but it can be super expensive to travel down there. With a Railcard, you can buy a one-way ticket for as little as £8, which means you have more money to spend in London! You could use your student ID card to get discounted theatre tickets, and cheaper admission to The Tower of London or Westminster Abbey!
I don’t want to overwhelm you all, so I’ll stop here. If you’d like anymore tips, please feel free to leave me a comment, either here or on our Facebook page!
Have a good weekend, everyone 🙂