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Making the student loan last: easy steps to stretch the budget

By Zara Byng, Third-Year Law

When the student loan hits in September, it is far too easy to abandon all financial strategizing and go wild during freshers week. But in a world where the cost of living is steadily rising, budgeting at university is a must.

For some students, this year will be the first-time catering for themselves, and grocery shopping can be expensive. If there is one thing that will save you money, it’s doing a weekly shop. Although the temptation to do a daily shop at Sainsburys is easy to give into, it turns out to be much more expensive in the long run. Equally, making a list or doing an online order is an easy way to limit your spending to just the essentials and reduce food waste.

For just 50p, you can order a shop to the ASDA petrol station at the top of Whiteladies Road, as long as you can cope with the walk back with heaving shopping bags. That being said, if you are a lucky fresher, you can get a bus from Black Boy Hill back to North Village or city centre using your bus passes.

Additionally, cheaper than Tesco or Sainsburys are Lidl and Aldi, the ideal alternatives for those who have access to a car or bus. From the city centre, the 76 bus can get you to the ASDA or Aldi in Bedminster. It might take an hour out of your day, but the savings will make it worth it. Otherwise, the Aldi and Lidl in Horfield are no more than a fifteen-minute drive from most of the Redland area.

Having a meal deal every single day will save you time, but it will definitely not save you money. Pre-pack lunches or cook double portions for dinner and bring in leftovers. The fourth floor of Senate House offers a convenient place to reheat meals during your time on campus, with a microwave and kettle available to all students.

Batch cooking is an easy way to save money through buying cheap ingredients and making wholesome meals. Stick them in your freezer and defrost them every now and then to avoid the temptation of ordering a takeaway when you don’t have the energy to cook.

For those nights however – when the freezer food isn’t cutting it - download the Too Good To Go app. Created with the intention to reduce food waste, this app connects you with local restaurants and cafes who are selling their surplus food at a discounted price. This means that you can get the satisfaction of having food made for you, without breaking the bank.

Buying home and kitchenware for university halls or houses can be very expensive. Facebook marketplace is a blessing in disguise, and it is really easy to set the location to Bristol so it is not too far to collect the items.

Alternatively, Gumtree is an ideal haven for finding cheap and at times even free decorations for your new room. With a little bit of scrolling, you could find yourself some lovely additions at the fraction of a cost and with a splash of originality.

While the urge to splurge on a daily coffee from Senate House is real, consider downloading the Moves+ App which counts your steps and turns them into points to get free coffees. For just 1200 points, you can redeem a hot drink voucher at any university Source café. And while getting an Uber to every night out might be convenient, the Moves+ App creates a great incentive to walk around Bristol.

Unsplash / Fahmi Fakhrudin

Finally, know your pubs! With a multitude of Wetherspoons in Bristol, you can’t go wrong with a cheap and cheerful Greene King IPA for just £1.49. Another go to is the White Harte, with 40p wings on Wednesday (chicken or cauliflower) and £2.75 pints Monday to Wednesday

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While September is never a cheap month, integrating little changes to your usual routine and following some of these tips can help free up some extra money and allow you to enjoy a bit more of what Bristol has to offer.

Featured Image: Unsplash / Andre Taissin

What are some of your tips for budgeting during term time?