Written by Gauri Kashyap
LLM Intellectual Property Law
Handling finances can be tricky, especially when you’ve moved to a new place. The currency is different, the prices of commodities are new and most students are dealing with a fixed budget – having to balance basic needs, school supplies as well as at least a little bit of a social life. This blog is about how I manage my finances as an international student in the UK and hopefully can give you a few little tricks and tips on how to save and make money.
The first thing I had to get used to was the currency conversion. I also had to get used to the new prices, and figuring out what an average price range is here in the UK. That for me came with practice. Going to different stores like Waitrose, Sainsbury, ASDA, Aldi and Lidl gave me a good idea on what is available where, and what different prices I can get things for. As with anything else, research is the key to good budgeting!
Food and other Essentials
You know you are an adult when great grocery prices and good quality home essentials excite you. In my time here in the UK, I was able to identify places you can get good produce for a reasonable price, and stores where you can find that cheap but long-lasting essentials. (Check out my blog on essentials’ shopping where I share my findings for details!)
The trick for me was to ensure that I shop in bulk when I do. Sure, it is great to have fresh produce, so I wouldn’t suggest buying all your veggies in advance. However, toiletries, nonperishable kitchen goods and other such basics are best done in one go. I make a list and train my mind to not go on a shopping spree. I feel like we’ve all had that moment where we walked into a store for a bottle of water and walked out with a receipt for £15. So planning is key!
Travelling inside Bournemouth is super convenient thanks to the well-connected bus network. I have a bus pass that cuts down my expenses drastically. I would suggest getting one if you take the bus often.
Travelling around the UK can be expensive. Fortunately, the University facilitates trips around the area, and are very affordable. I’ve found that transport and
small expenditure included, it cuts down the cost of the trip by nearly half. Getting a railcard can give you great discounts and the Student Union (SUBU) also gives discounts on the National Express busses to London.
Discounts are a Shopper’s Best Friend!
The University helps you get a Totum Card. This basically is a card that tells retailers everywhere that you’re a student and that you’re eligible for really great discounts.
I also use Unidays which is an app that compiles discounts from fashion, technology, food and lifestyle sellers. 10 or 20% may not seem like a lot, but a student knows that every pound saved goes to a great night out or a book you’ve been saving up to buy.
While saving money helps you in the long run, a part time job does wonders to your budget. I found a part time job with the University by applying for the role of a Student Ambassador. This means that I get to create content such as this, and help prospective students learn about BU and the Uni life. As an ambassador, you can work on your own terms and take up jobs without it clashing with your deadlines.
The university Careers department also helps you get part time jobs both on and off campus. It’s also a great addition to your CV, as all experiences teaches us a new skill.
Finally, budgeting is totally personal and has to be done on your own terms. It’s okay to make mistakes because that’s how we learn! A little planning and research can take you a long way.