To paraphrase from those great Swedish philosophers ABBA, ‘Money money money, must be funny, if you’re not facing debts in the tens of thousands and the prospects of living on white label soup for the conceivable future’. However, being more proactive about how you save can help prevent some of these money worries, and stop every spontaneous invitation to Nando’s from feeling like ‘Sophie’s Choice’. We’ve covered inventive ways to fund a masters degree before, but here are a few more quick fixes for your finances: S@#!r Jar For when the most important F-word to you is finance, swear jars are a great way to always have a little spare cash to hand. They also have the benefit of cleaning up your language ready for the adult world looming in the near distance. And they don’t even have to be swearing-based: we once imposed a ‘Game of Thrones’ jar in our flat to stop the almost constant Targaryen talk and raised enough for a pretty decent Christmas dinner, but equally you could do it for every time you complain about your theses or your supervisor.
The ‘labels challenge’ An idea I first came across on that student staple of female frustration, Loose Women. Essentially, when you do your weekly shop, you buy everything a ‘label down’ - that is, if you usually buy name brand, buy home brand, and if you buy home brand, buy basics brand. If you can’t taste the difference, then keep buying the cheaper product, and if you can you go back to your usual choice. Although this does mean making your way through a gruesome product (for example, some basics brand pasta just tastes like despair. Very starchy despair), you’ll be amazed at how much extra you’ve been spending for products that can be brought pretty cheaply.
Pounds to stop procrastination Combining the two biggest problems you’re likely to face as a postgrad student, this tip will help you both to save and to concentrate. You write yourself a list of your biggest internet time killers (say Facebook, Buzzfeed, reading articles about student saving on Postgrad.com…) and charge yourself to use them when you should be doing course work, saving a certain amount of money for each minute you spend on them. If you spend even half the time I do looking at ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ gifs or reading 90s nostalgia lists, this can be a serious way to save yourself some money.
Maths Magic You may previously have seen the ‘52 weeks saving challenge’, where you save £1 on week one, £2 on week two and so on until you have an impressive £1378 by New Year’s Day. Why not try a postgraduate variation of this, saving according to how many weeks you have until your final deadline - £30 if there are 30 weeks to go, £29 for 29 weeks etc. If nothing else, this will help to fund the champagne bills when you pass with flying colours!
Budget, budget, budget Lastly and certainly least glamorously, it is impossible to emphasise enough the power of a good budget. Simply knowing how much you have coming in and out every week will help you to no end in saving your money. If you’re as bemused at budgeting as so many of us are, luckily we’ve covered many aspects of budgeting on this site before, including 10 apps that will let you keep track of your money on the move.
Useful Links UK living costs
Student funding guide
Student saving tip: give up one thing a month
Student saving tip: grow your own food