How Postgrads can Save on Everyday Living Expenses
During postgrad study, it’s a safe bet you’ll have more refined tastes than you did during your earlier and wilder student days. Here we will discuss how you can still save money during this time of dedicated study without regressing into an economy beans on toast lifestyle.
There are certain things that you can’t cut corners on and these are generally dependant on what course you are studying. These include expensive textbooks and field trips. It’s wise to buy the textbooks before the course starts so that this cost is out of the way, and if you have a good idea in advance of the prices of trips you can work this into your budget. These costs may change from year to year, so it may be wise to establish a rough estimate near the start of the year so you can calculate a guideline figure. Don’t be afraid to talk to course staff or even to ask for contacts of people who have already completed the course, you should be able to find someone who will give you some friendly advice.
Annual living expenses generally depend on which part of the country you are studying in. Rent is generally cheaper the further up north you go, and if you are studying in London you can expect costs to be significantly higher. Throughout your time studying you will get used to what prices to expect but wherever you are be aware of unnecessary costs and work out ways around them, either by buying in bulk online or during your monthly supermarket trip (more about this later)
As a postgrad you will need a lot of brain food, and because you will be sat still writing for long stretches of time, it is wise to not eat too unhealthily. There are some good tips on this NHS site to get good food in on a limited budget, but you will have to organise yourself (and your kitchen) very carefully and definitely break out of some bad habits. A well stocked kitchen will help you to resist sweet treats, so always have a fruit bowl and perhaps some cheese crackers for your ‘thinking breaks’.
Coffee and Tea
Reducing some habits such as coffee consumption can have a significant effect. As this article shows, drinking caffeine can have a positive effect on productivity but not if it is gulped all day long! Tea can be a cheaper alternative, and if you wish to cut down on caffeine, some interesting varieties can be bought from Nothing but Tea.
If you have a habit of excessive spending on treats, going on a monthly shop is a tried and tested strategy. You will need to write a list of everything you think you will need throughout the month. Take this list on your first monthly shop and update it throughout the month as you prematurely run out of items. Having a well stocked supply will stop you from buying sweets and chocolate from your local corner shop and add more structure to your lifestyle. You need a car to make this option possible, but if you live in a shared house you could share a car boot and organise it into a communal exercise, so long as everyone else is willing!
Exercise is important when you spend a lot of your day sitting down writing but joining a gym could unnecessarily add to your budget. A bicycle is a really good idea, as your ride to university serves as a practical fitness break. Find a cheap bike on a site like Gumtree or even eBay. Be sure to buy a good pump and puncture repair kit from Wilkinson’s and some cheap inner tubes online in case you get a puncture. If you haven’t prepared in advance you could end up getting a bike shop to replace your inner tube, which is definitely an unnecessary expense. More and more people are choosing cycling as their main mode of transport, and inner city cycle paths will continue to improve as more people take this healthy option.
You will need to find part time jobs that don’t get in the way of your work. A role that takes you away from the computer screen is wise, so how about mystery shopping? A good place to get started is this mystery shopping deal. Once your foot is in the door you can gain experience and get bigger gigs, although contrary to popular belief it isn’t an easy job! During your shopping missions you need to covertly keep a record of every staff member you come in contact with, their defining features and exactly what they said during your shopping experience. With this in mind some shops are much harder assignments than the free meal ticket you may have anticipated. Be very diligent and follow your instructions to the letter, because if you don’t get paid, you won’t have your shopping reimbursed either. If you find out this is right for you there are lots of these jobs out there, they won’t distract you too much from your study and it could even add purpose to an otherwise aimless walk around town.
Balance and Variety
The most important advice is to keep your mind and body active without wearing yourself out. The more variety you can fit into your lifestyle, the happier you will be. This will also have an effect on the quality of your work, so aim high, stay organised and enjoy a safe and healthy postgrad lifestyle.