Advice for parents about the career options for their children

How your son or daughter can save money whilst at University


Most new students starting university this September will be affronted by a stark realisation, as will their parents. The cost of sustaining oneself at university is grossly outweighed by any maintenance loan or grant available. Mum, dad or some other form of subsidy will be making up any shortfall. With this in mind, here are a few tips to offer September's hopefuls to keep them from the stress of a burgeoning overdraft and perpetual parental bailout.

The sharing economy.

Since the institution of websites like AirBnB and BlaBla, especially in the UK, the so-called sharing economy has blossomed. Using AirBnB people can offer up a spare room to tourists in return for payment, usually undercutting the mainstream hoteliers. Blabla offers a similar service but one related to carpooling. For most students the digital world has opened up the sharing economy and other niche ways of making money. Although students should be aware that they are still liable to pay income tax on earnings, plus there are legalities such as insurance and health and safety to consider. Making money via these sharing communities, however casual it may seem, should be considered to be a business activity.

As well as making money via these sites, they can be used to save money. Freecycle and   Gumtree are two online spaces where anything can be found, if patient enough. When filling up the student house with trinkets to give it that homely feel or if you are just getting together the basics, don't waste money going to IKEA. Freecycle and its huge student user base - that seem to move in and out of rented accommodation as if home ownership had gone out of fashion - will be sure to provide the cutlery, the lampshades; all the stuff for student life.          

And, when it comes to books, second hand is the way to go. Of course, where the first edition is essential, paying over the odds is sometimes unavoidable, especially for very new editions. However, in most cases, there should be no reason why that pesky first edition can't be found in the realm of the unwanted. Book sharing websites are the best. www.sellstudentstuff.comis a great little marketplace where postgraduate students sell off their unwanted books at way below market value. Sellers tend to offload in bulk. And, as one undergraduate course in Law, taken in Leeds, for example, is much the same prospectus as the next, savings can be huge.

Feast at home?

The largest expense that a student will face, after his or her rent, is that of food and drink. The best way to cut costs is to buy in bulk and eat like one big hippy family: Stews, spaghetti bolognese, curry. The more the merrier and the lighter it will be on the wallet. Not only can getting together for a meal be beneficial financially but it can be when all the funniest, the craziest stuff happens.

For house supplies, Costco or other, lesser-known, 'cash and carrys' can be great and if the student gains a taste for living frugally, then he or she could even scour that 'sharing economy' for other bits of unwanted goodness. Freecycle and Gumtree searches have been known to provide household items like surface cleaners, bleach, etc.

In order to cut down the cost of supermarket shopping, there are savvy techniques such as " extreme couponing". Even without going the extra mile of collecting other people's receipts, students should still get in to the habit of collecting their own points, vouchers and coupons when offered them in the supermarket.

Deals, deals and more deals.

Of course, being a student is not all staying in. Going 'out out' is a big part of it. For these forays into the outside world, there are vouchers, blessed vouchers. Vouchercloud and Groupon, two of the web's leading deal-finder sites, are on call to make sure that trip to Pizza Express is always two-for-one.  

Finally, the principle of necessity.

The most important thing to instil in any new student is the principle of necessity. Quite simply, if our student beginning university in September finds him or herself affronted with a decision about spending money, they should try to do so on the basis that the thing is necessary. Okay so, there will be times that money finds itself being spent on a new luxury item. That is fine once in a while. Everyone needs a little Luxury sometimes. The general point is that university life, and life in general, can be fun, brilliant and everything the prospective student imagined, without him or her having to live in excess.