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Top 5 tips for Student Budgeting!

Updated: Mar 9, 2022

As the summer comes to an end and the university’s commitment to make the ‘vast majority’ of teaching in-person, the excitement for the return to St Andrews has never been greater. Coming back to “the Bubble” does not just promise the feeling of normalcy which we have all been craving these last 18 months, but also brings about the opportunity to meet with friends who we have not been able to see in what has felt like an eternity.

However, as exhilarating as this can be, the academic season – especially the beginning of the semester – can prove quite demanding in economic terms, since it is abound with events, textbooks, and university supply to-buy lists. Therefore, we have decided to gather for you our top five budgeting tips, so everyone can enjoy themselves as we dip back into class!

Being selective on which events to attend: It is not yet fully clear how the coming semester will evolve in terms of social events, but we will now have the opportunity to gather in much larger groups than we could before. Therefore, the prices of events can be a reasonable topic for concern: with tickets usually ranging from around £3 (for a Bop ticket) to £70 and upwards for certain balls, perfect attendance in the social season can be rather costly.

One recommendation we can thus offer is that you carefully select the events which you plan to attend and coordinate this with your studies, friends, and other responsibilities to make the most out of what St Andrews has to offer. If this means skipping a Ball or Bop, don’t panic! You will likely have the chance to attend all St Andrews events in your years ahead - and it is always a good idea to leave something new for your last year!

Buying used books:

One of the most expensive aspects of each semester is purchasing the required textbooks for your modules. Even though requirements differ amongst different schools, it is most likely that you will have to purchase (at least) one textbook for the semester. With lecturers often recommending the latest editions, you might feel obliged to spend a considerable amount of money on buying brand-new books. Nonetheless, there are numerous small charity shops in St Andrews where you can buy your books. They often stock a broad supply of textbooks for different courses and modules. These textbooks are usually in good condition and will save you almost two-thirds of the retail price! Do not forget that when the semester comes to an end, you can always approach these shops to donate your used books, giving the opportunity to future students to access teaching material at a more affordable price.

Putting your cooking skills to work: One of the things that the pandemic has taught us is you can’t always count on eating out! With healthy food alternatives being limited, you might find learning or practicing how to cook rewarding and useful for your time in St Andrews and beyond.

In addition, cooking will (likely) help you budget your food and ensure you maintain a balanced diet for a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, you will have an excuse to try and support the local produce market and help the environment while you budget.

Getting a bike: Even though our town is famous for its particularly small size, daily walks between halls and class, or into and out of town for those staying in DRA and ABH, can be quite time demanding. If you want to avoid this walk but you don’t want to be taking taxis or riding the bus multiple times a day, getting a bike is your solution.

There are many options when it comes to buying one in St Andrews: from a used bike sold by a graduating student to a brand-new bike through a local or online store, there is for sure a bike for your budget. Psst… remember to always use a helmet and visible lights when riding around town!

Making your own coffee (or tea): With the return to normalcy, we might see ourselves spending a lot of time outside our homes and, as exciting as this may be, you might incur extra costs from grabbing a coffee while hanging out with friends or during your study breaks.

If this seems likely, you can always invest in a good thermos to bring your own drinks with you during the day. Not only will you be saving some money, but also helping the environment as you make the switch away from disposable plastic or paper cups!

Ignacio Ugalde

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