Student Money Advice – What would I say to my 18-year-old self?

Student Money Advice

September 2018 marks 23 years since I started university. How did that happen?! By the age of 41, I have learnt a lot and I can offer some key pieces of simple student tips to you amazing 18/19 year olds at university. Many thing I wish I had done back in 1995.

Student Money Advice
Student saving My 18 yr old self

It’s so tough from a financial perspective going to university, so much harder than when I went. The fees are the big difference with every graduate I know leaving university with £40-50k of loans to repay, another form of tax they see it as . It is much harder to get grants, with more forms to fill in and more information needed from your parents. When money is tight its important save the pounds and do all you can to make extra pounds to supplement your loans & grants.

I went to Brunel University from 1995 to 1999, I studied Maths with Statistics and Management. There’s me second from the left, how I loved that chinese material skirt with the biggest slit. And even back then I was obsessed with saving money and getting a good deal. I always had the best bank account and I always worked. I was lucky to go to uni before fees were payable and did get a grant every year. But also applied for every possible bursury, and got them. I worked 2 days per week for M&S in their head office throughout my final year which paid me £15 per hour! I negotiated that job and pay very well! There were also four loans and I left uni with debts of £8k. They were repaid by the time I was 26, after working in the city for HSBC, where I trained to become an accountant.

Top 5 Tips to Make money at Uni

Get A Job

Possibly obvious but do it, get a job! I was a bar maid for 2 years (loved it!), worked at WHSmiths at Heathrow (good for celebrity spotting, I sold the Observer to Alan Rickman RIP), worked at Dorothy Perkins in holidays when I went home to Penzance. Best of all though I did a sandwich four-year degree and worked two different six-month work placements on a full-time basis in my second and third years. This provided essential financial support, and the hourly rate was much better than a bar maid!  It also provided me with an income through my final year.

M&S, whom I worked for in third year placement continued to employ me two days per week. I wrote my dissertation for them, ‘Statistical Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Yr 2000 IT Re-structure’ and got a 1st for it. I took a chance and asked them if I could carry on working after my six month placement were up and they said yes. If you don’t ask you don’t get. A good philosophy in life.

Set Up a Cash Back Account

Set up an account with TopCashback asap. Buy everything you need through via this website. Broadband, mobile phone, insurance, your laptop/tablet, kitchen stuff, bedding, tv..the list goes on and on but always check here first. It’s free and the money you get is free cash. I have written a whole article about it here Once your account is credited you can transfer cash straight into your bank account. Get paid to shop, why not set it up as your home page, then you won’t forget to use them. If you use my referral link to set up an account I will earn some commission, thank you.

Sell anything off you do not need before Univerity

Sell off anything you don’t need on Ebay/Facebook selling sites before you go to university. If you’ve not used something for 1 year or more so you really need it? If not sell it! Designer, good brand clothes sell well, anything ‘vintage’, worn shoes, technology goods sell well. Consider using a free Facebook page in your local area to sell stuff as well, no Ebay fees or postage hassle. I set one up in Knebworth where I live, 2500 members after 3 years, lots of people making hassle free money.

most profitable eBay sales

Get rid of old Technology, DVDs, computer games

Sell your old dvds and cd’s, books, games, phones, tablets. Music Magpie is easy. I have used them in the past for phones and cd’s. I got £70 for 150 CD’s and £90 for an old Samsung. You scan everything via an app on your phone, they come to collect your box of goodies and transfer the money to your bank account.

Mystery Shopping.

Use a company like ProInsight register your details and get shopping. You will earn around £8 plus free products for maybe 30 minutes of your time. I have recently checked popcorn at McColls, bought yorkshire puddings at Co-op. Checked fixtures & Fittings at Caffe Nero. If you’re going into town anyway why not check for mystery shop visits and make some money whilst you are there.  There’s also another one here that will get you £50 for an hours work!

Top 5 Tips to Save Money at Uni

Shop Around and compares Prices

Shop around for big purchases. Mobile phone contract and Broadband are possible the biggest purchases when you add the 24 months contract up.  There are lots of offers around at the moment with back to uni time. Maybe you can get away with a hand-me-down phone from mum and dad. In that case just get a cheap simo deal, try this one EE Mobile.  Uswitch is a great comparison tool for comparing mobile and broadband deals.

There are lots of voucher code websites now that offers really great deals that can save you so much money. Never pay full price when you are buying something as there is always a voucher to be had. Dealsdaddy is a great site with voucher codes for clothing, accessories, Electronics items, office supplies, travel bookings and health supplies. Definitely worth a look to see what you can save.

Save on your food and meals out

Food shopping and cheap meals out. Take full advantage of shopping vouchers and loyalty schemes. Tesco Clubcard, Sainsburys Nectar, Boots Advantage get them all. What I would say is get your weekly shop from Aldi. When I swopped from Tesco to Aldi I save 40% on my shopping bill every week, now for me that was £40 per week. So its made a huge difference to my budget. Aldi food is great quality and amazing value.  Whenever you are eating out do a search for a voucher, vouchercodes.co.uk is a great place to find half price deals.

Aldi Roast Dinner – British Pork, Yorkshire Pudding, Roasties and Veg

Take Second hand items

Beg, borrow and ask nicely as many people as you can for stuff before you leave for uni. People will help and give you kitchen stuff, an old TV, maybe a tablet they don’t use anymore. Never be afraid to ask. People will be so proud that you’re off to uni they will want to help you. And this is all free stuff! Its cool if nothing matches. I still have the cake tin that I went to uni with. Not sure I ever made a cake at uni though.

Get the best bank account for free overdraft, savings rates and freebies

Get the best bank account..check important stuff like the free overdraft limit..you will need this and make sure its interest free. And really avoid going over your limit, as you’ll be charged hefty fines. Then think about the best freebie going. Rail cards appear to still be the norm..exactly the same as 23 years ago. Great if you are regularly travelling home by train…railcard for 4 years is worth £90 and gives you 1/3 off rail travel.  There are also great deals where you can get Amazon Student Prime for free.

Have Fun!

Most of all have fun…uni is the best three to four years of your life, and I would hate to see running out of money ruining it. Go to those student nights where drinks are a bargain price. Watch all the bands for cheap ticket prices at the student union. And don’t forget to do some studying.

This post contains affiliate and sponsored links where I will earn a small commission if you decide to buy the product.

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Lynn Beattie

Aka Mrs MummyPenny

Personal Finance Expert

I write about personal finance made simple, lifestyle choices that will save you time and money, as well as products and services that offer great value.

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