Money Advice to my 18 Year old self?
So this September it is officially half my life ago that I started university. Now that is scary!! At 36 I feel that life has taught me many lessons, and I know I can offer some key pieces of simple info for those amazing 18-19 year olds starting uni now. It’s tough from a financial perspective going to uni now – so much harder than 18 years ago. Those fees, blimey, and its harder to get grants. And you have to get a loan every year. So when money is tight, it’s important save the pounds and do all you can to make extra pounds to supplement your income. Here is my own money advice to my 18 year old self.
Top 5 Tips to Make money at Uni
- Possibly obvious, but do it, get a job! I was a barmaid for 2 years (loved it!), worked at WH Smiths at Heathrow (good for celebrity spotting), and worked at Dorothy Perkins in holidays when I went home to Penzance. Best of all though, I did a sandwich degree and worked two different six-month work placements. This provided essential financial support, and the hourly rate was much better than a barmaid, although no tips! It also provided me with an income through my final year as M&S (who I worked for in my third year placement) continued to employ me two days per week… for writing my dissertation for them. I took a chance and asked them if I could carry on working after my six months were up and they said yes. If you don’t ask you don’t get. Good philosophy in life.
- 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. Once your account is credited money gets transferred straight into your bank account. Get paid to shop.
- Sell off anything you don’t need on eBay/Facebook selling sites before you go to uni. If you’ve not used something for a year or more, do you really need it? If not sell it! Designer (ish) clothes sell well, anything vintage sells well, worn shoes sell well (?? weird), 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.
- Consider selling your old DVDs and CD’s. You must have put them onto your iPod or computer so do you really need them? And with apps like spotify and google play, you can have access to all music anyway. Music Magpie is easy. You don’t get much for each CD, maybe 30p each, but its easy to scan them via an app on your phone. And they come to collect your box of CD’s, then transfer the money to your bank account. I’ve made £70 recently for 150 CD’s and DVD’s. What about your old mobile phones left unused in drawers? They have a value! See this article from Plunc.
- Are you interested in doing things like consumer testing panels, mystery shopping or customer research? There are tons of companies who will pay you to do this for them. Nielson mobile will pay you around £5 per month to monitor your smartphone usage, 20cogs gives you money for signing up to things/questionnaires etc and Ragdoll will pay you £50 for a mystery shop!
Top 5 Tips to Save Money at Uni
- Shop around for big purchases. Mobile phone contract and broadband are possible the biggest purchases when you add up the 24 month contract. There are some really good deals out there, especially now its back to uni time. Maybe you can manage with a hand-me-down phone from mum or dad, in which case, just get a cheap sim deal. Always get these through Topcashback – the deal you get is the same as the actual website, just with a chunk of extra free money added once the sale is made and confirmed with the provider. For both mobile and broadband its worth also checking a comparison site like Uswitch.
- Food shopping and cheap meals out. Take full advantage of shopping vouchers and loyalty schemes. Tesco Clubcard, Sainsbury’s Nectar, Boots Advantage; get them all. You will end up with lots of vouchers and points to get free stuff. Use voucher code, deal and freebie websites like Latest Deals I love this one and often share deals I find on there – great to search for any deal before you make a purchase. Never buy a pizza without using a voucher code!
- 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! It’s cool if nothing matches.
- Get the best bank account… check important stuff like the free overdraft limit – you will need this – and make sure it’s interest free. And really avoid going over your limit, as you’ll be charged hefty fees. And then think about the best freebie going. Railcards appear to still be the norm… exactly the same as 18 years ago – great if you regularly travel home by train. A railcard for 4 years is worth £120 and gives you one third off rail travel. Santander is often a great place to start looking at.
- Most of all have fun… uni is the best 3-4 years of your life, and I would hate it if running out of money ruined 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 do some studying. I loved uni, as you can see from the pic of my 18 year old self, I’m second from the left with the gold tinsel.