University life is an exciting and transformative chapter in the lives of young adults. I remember being a student at the University of Bristol and it was the most fascinating and fun period in my life. However, I wish I’d taken some time to do a bit of research into some student hacks that would have enhanced my experience, helped me save a bit of money here and there and just do the whole experience slightly more efficiently. If you are a reading this blog then hopefully it’s not too late for you to take advantage of some good, well known student hacks. Here are 10 student life hacks at university.
1. Vacuum Pack Your Belongings
This one is timely as I write this blog before the Christmas holidays it made me think. Whenever you are leaving to go to university or flying home and you have to pack up your bulky clothes, fragile belongings, toiletries etc it never seems to end and then you realise how much extra luggage you hoped to bring. Luggage allowances on planes is getting pretty expensive these days but there is a solution. The first student hack is to consider vacuum packing your clothes, duvets, coats, pillows and anything else that takes up a lot of space. You may have never heard of vacuum packing but believe me when I say it’s a GAME CHANGER. You save so much more space and can pack more and save money for not having to check in another bag. Link to buy yours on Amazon here.
2. Try a simple meal plan for the week
Now this is for the organised among us because I must confess I did this once as a student, told everyone about it and then never did it again until I was a fully fledged adult who owned tupperwares! As a student, eating out can very quickly dent a student budget, especially living in London. By buying bulk food, cooking it all on a sunday evening (for example) and packing it into tupperwares, you are saving yourself money by not having to always eat out, nor having to throw away veg/meat that may go off quite quickly. I’m not sure whether you have noticed yet but there are less preservatives in UK groceries than the US. Food tends to expire much quicker. You may find that 3-4 days after buying your fresh food, it’s starting to go off/reach it’s expiration date. I’ve linked some quick and easy meal planning ideas so you can cook in bulk and freeze portions for later in the week. Give it a go.
3. Keep your budget in check with a monthly meeting with yourself
A student hack that I didn’t incorporate into my life until 4th year (a little too late) is begin to map out my spending and have a monthly budget meeting with yourself to keep track of my income and expenses. I created an excel spreadsheet that I fill in to keep an eye on the ins and outs and it’s helped me a lot. Before you know it, you will be a graduate and managing your finances is an ESSENTIAL part of being a fully grown adult and yet we don’t really ever learn how to do it. A simple budget spreadsheet solves all the problems. Separate things like fixed costs eg. rent, phone bill, insurance with variable costs like groceries, entertainment, clothes. May seem like a bore but trust me, you’ll thank yourself down the line. Here is a spreadsheet you can download.
4. No gym, no problem: Alternative fitness ideas
Membership fees at gyms can easily strain the budget. Sometimes there are hidden costs like sign-on fees. Explore alternative fitness options to stay active and healthy. A student life hack of mine is to consider online workout tutorials, yoga on YouTube, outdoor exercises like running or using free outdoor gym equipment. You can even join a university sports team! I used an app called Freeletics during my year abroad as I didn’t really have access to a gym. I highly recommend it as a fitness app if you aren’t a gym goer.
5. Get a student rail card & add it to your Oyster card
If you haven’t already, apply for a 16-25 railcard with National Rail. You can then take it to any Transport for London (Tfl) office and link it to your railcard and get 30% off all underground travel. That’s some serious savings! Not only is it great for saving money as a student in London but also all around the UK. With the 16-25 railcard you can get discounts on all rail travel across the UK. You can get a digital railcard on your phone so it’s really easy to access.
6. Study in libraries to reduce energy costs
Instead of spending energy and money heating your room for studying, consider using the library. London has so many beautiful libraries including the British Library, Kensington Central Library & the London Library. Libraries offer a quiet and distraction-free environment for focused study with free wifi. You’ll also have access to a wealth of resources, such as books, journals, and computers to use.
7. Use a reference generators for essays
Managing citations and references can be a time-consuming task. Utilize citation generators like Cite This For Me to streamline the process. These tools automatically format citations in various styles, saving you time and effort.
8. Use social media blockers to stop procrastinating
Distractions from social media can derail your study sessions. Use social media blockers to temporarily disable access to social media platforms while you’re working. This will help you stay focused and avoid the temptation to check your phone constantly.
9. Make to-do lists
One of the most simple but most effective student hacks is to buy yourself a journal and create to-do lists. I tried it on my phone in my notes/reminders app and it never really worked. There’s something very satisfying about crossing something out with a pen or a pencil and knowing you’ve achieved something. Celebrate the little wins! There is so much going on in our own heads and in London that trying to keep track of our own to-do lists and calendars is a task. Get the lists down and it’ll certainly help clear your mind and give you a sense of accomplishment.
10. Do your grocery shopping in the evening
My final student hack is to take advantage of reduced prices at grocery stores during the evening hours. You may have noticed at some of the main grocery stores like Tesco, Sainsbury’s and ALDI that there are often little yellow labels offering a discount on products before they have to be taken off the shelf. The food is still absolutely edible and healthy, they just need to get them off their shelves. It’s a brilliant hack to save the extra few pounds here and there.
These student hacks will help you make the most of your university experience, from saving money and staying organised to maintaining your health and well-being. I hope these come in handy during your time as a student.