Students are forever being told to cut back, to make savings wherever they can, and to avoid extravagance. While this is sensible advice for the most part, there are a few places where the slightly more expensive option is money well spent.
Here are five things that students really shouldn’t skimp on. Think of them as an investment.
1. An up-to-date computer
If you’re leaving for university or college, make sure your computer is going to go the distance with you. You don’t want something that’s going to become practically obsolete within a year, and ideally you don’t want to upgrade during the three or more years that your course lasts since you’ll still be studying rather than earning.
Pick a computer with enough memory and processing power, and it will handle coursework, messaging, TV downloads, music and other entertainment. Consider extra ways to back up your work regularly too – whether that’s a rugged external hard drive, the cloud, or other options. Also think about buying a printer where you can cheaply refill the ink cartridges, as it’s the refills that are pricey.
You can still save money on these purchases if you use voucher codes, special offers, and student discount schemes.
2. A decent coat and shoes
Most students do a lot of walking, especially if they are on a large, spread out campus. A decent pair of walking shoes is a great purchase, and a new pair of trainers never goes amiss either, especially if you’re hoping to make use of the university’s free or subsidised fitness facilities. A warm coat for the winter is also an essential, and a good quality waterproof jacket tends to come in handy too.
If you make these purchases during the summer sales, you should be able to benefit from buying out of season, bagging yourself a hefty discount.
3. Textbooks and other study materials
As a general rule, the students who own the most textbooks and other study materials tend to be the ones who get the best grades – although obviously you do have to read them after you’ve bought them to get the benefit.
Check the recommended reading list before you go and treat yourself to all the core texts. If core reading isn’t marked out on the list, contact a tutor and ask. Lesser texts can be rented, borrowed from the library or shared among friends, but don’t skimp on the major stuff.
You can still make savings though. Find cheap deals on books via Book Brain, Find-Book, BookFinder4U and other comparison sites, or buy second hand (if they’re not too out of date) at Amazon, Abe Books and similar shops.
4. Household goods
Save on laundry, takeaway and lunch bills by buying a fold-away clothes airer, a couple of pans and other kitchen basics, and a box for packed lunches. These will all pay for themselves before the end of the first term.
5. Student insurance
Undergraduates are regularly targeted by burglars, bag snatchers and bike thieves. In addition to keeping doors and bikes locked up, students must think about insurance for their belongings.
Start by checking whether parental home insurance includes student belongings, then look for a good deal by doing a general insurance comparison if needed. Don’t automatically start by looking at student-specific insurance as there may be other well-priced suitable options.