How to save money at university

University is an expensive venture, from the tuition fees themselves to living costs and the repayment of maintenance loans… so here are a few tips on how to save money at university. Hope they help!

The Frugal Frenchie

Education tips

  • University books: the books they may quote as “indicative references” may not actually be essential. If they are, before forking out, why not check your library first, eBay or even if any university selling pages
  • Amazon Prime Student: not only can you get a 6-month trial, but you can also save 10% on thousands of textbooks!

Food tips

  • Meal plan: as you’re only feeding yourself, you can plan your meals in advance to avoid food waste and over-snacking. Another benefit is that you could buy certain ingredients that are cheap in bulk and use them for several meals. A great example would be potatoes as you can make mash or jacket potato etc.
  • Freeze leftovers: self-explanatory really, we’ve all made that mistake of making too much food for one meal. Why not freeze it and save it for another day?

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My new job opportunity

A few months ago, not even a year ago, I started my job as a customer service representative at Primark. Now, I am writing this post, because a new job opportunity has arisen, which I have decided to grab with both hands, despite being happy where I was.

Today, the 29th April, was my first shift as the new official HR assistant of my local Primark branch! I’ve had two shifts of training so far, however, today was the first day I was alone and running the HR office, scary times!

My new job opportunity

In my local store, there is only one person in HR: me. It’s a big change from busy, sociable customer services, where I would talk to my colleagues and serve sometimes 100 people on a busy shift. Now, I’m alone and in an office, sorting through paperwork, checking costing, counsellings and filing, to name a few.

The job offer was very unexpected. In fact, there wasn’t even an official vacancy when I was proposed the job. It came as a result of a supervisor interview a few weeks before. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that position, but they did seem to get the impression that I had qualities needed in HR so they thought it’d be worth asking.

My new job opportunity

I was unsure whether to take it at first. My contract is now 14 hours instead of 8 (but baring in mind I’m a full-time university student that did seem daunting), I’m alone in an office most of the time, I have a lot more responsibilities, I still have to wear a uniform and I don’t get paid more. Considering I couldn’t be happier with customer services, I was sure I was going to refuse.

Asking around though, everybody seemed super enthusiastic about it, which actually quite surprised me. I didn’t think it was anything exciting, in fact, I considered it a worse deal than customer services knowing how much we had to work, however people were telling me that to be working in HR at the age of 20, sounds really good.

My new job opportunity

I did decide to go in the end, because I’m hoping that it’ll teach me new skills and open up the door to bigger opportunities in the future. At first, I didn’t see how it’d benefit me, but it’s a bit like revision when you’re young. You don’t do it for the short-term benefits, but you do it because you’ll need good grades to go into higher education and get a better job etc.

So, here’s to an exciting new time and hopefully the key to unlocking a better future! Have you ever been in a similar situation, unsure of what to do? How did you make your decision? Let me know in the comments!

The Frugal Frenchie

Top 5 money lessons to know before graduating

We don’t learn about money in university, or in younger education at that. It’s sad but it’s true – no one teaches us how to pay taxes, how to budget and what a mortgage is. And yet, money is essential! No matter what career you get into, you’ll be earning a salary and using money to buy food, transport, etc.

So if the schools won’t teach us, we need to teach ourselves. Based on the several months I’ve been working and researching with Financially Mint, here are the top 5 money lessons you need to know before graduating.

Top 5 money lessons to know before graduating

1. Money is just a tool

My life changed when I realised I didn’t have to spend my entire life working for money at a job I didn’t like just to pay the bills and have a roof over my head.

Money is your tool to live how you want. You are the one who chooses what to do with it. If you want to use it to travel the world, that’s on you. If you want to use it on going out every weekend, that’s also on you. It’s about making priorities and deciding what you really want. Once you understand that, you realise that money is just a tool to achieve your goals and dreams; what you really need is willpower and a desire to do better.

And the key to making sure you use your money correctly is financial education – what we’re not taught in schools. Learning how to invest, how to start a side-hustle, how to save money. These are things we need to learn by ourselves, and the more we study them the better we get at it. So get started in college!

2. Invest, invest, invest

The key to growing your wealth: investing.

Investing is stowing away your money somewhere safe and watching it grow. It’s starting off with £500 and seeing it grow to £100,000 over 20 years. It’s what lets people retire early and always have cash for emergencies.

If you don’t want to start investing in college (check my how to get started in uni post), I recommend at least learning the basics and preparing for investing once you graduate. Invest into low fee index funds and put away some money every month. Watch your money grow into something useable for the future: a car, a house, retirement, etc.

Investing is one of the pillars of financial education, so I recommend every student to get started as soon as possible.

Top 5 money lessons to know before graduating

3. Control is key

Control means knowing where your money is and what it’s doing at all times. It means not having a heart attack every time you open your bank account (it happens) and it means knowing where to put your money once you get your paycheck.

This starts with a nice and simple budget. In my 6 day course, that The Frugal Frenchie has reviewed, we go back to the basics of budgeting: allocating your money to the right expenses and making sure you reach your ambitions/goals.

Being in control of your money outflows and inflows before graduating will make your entry into the workforce so much easier. You won’t have a pressure to get a job immediately (Emergency fund to the rescue!), you’ll know what kind of salary you’re looking for and you’ll know exactly where to put your money every month.

4. Don’t be in debt

Debt can good and can be bad. But when it’s bad, it’s pretty bad. The bad debt: credit card debt and payday loans. As a student, you hopefully will have very little debt (student loans are a separate case), and you really want to keep it that way. Credit card debt accumulates and will get more expensive every time – pay off all your debt and make sure you know what you’re doing if you take on any more debt.

Student loans are another story altogether. In fact, they’re so different that some people prefer calling your student loan debt a contribution, simply because the situation is so particular. Before graduating, take a look at your student loans and decide whether you want to pay them off. This post on Should I pay off my student loans? will give you an idea of how to make a decision and plan appropriately. And as always, do your research.  

Top 5 money lessons to know before graduating

5. Pay yourself first

The best part of the budget: yourself.

This means allocating a certain percentage of your income to yourself, to your goals. And you can start this in college: the minute you get your paycheck/loan/money each month, allocate 15% to your goals, to your emergency fund, to your debts. That 15% is what will get you out of the rat race, out of living from paycheck to paycheck.

If you start paying yourself first in college you will actually be prepared for adult life (shock horror). You’ll be way more flexible and really be able to pick the job you want – because you’ll have an emergency fund, you’ll be debt free and will have the motivation to keep working on your goals.

Again, this starts with the mighty budget. At the time of calculating your budget from your income, the first thing you do is allocate that 15% to ‘Savings’. And then the rest is for your expenses! No need to worry about saving up more.

Understanding these 5 lessons on money will get you prepared for the world after graduation. Heck, it’ll even get you excited – you understand that you don’t have to be stuck at a job you just tolerate, you can achieve that flexibility to help you find the job that works best for. It all starts with being in control and financially educated.

Review: Free finance course for students

Through my old money blog, I have made friends with other money bloggers and learnt so much through them. Recently, my friend Araminta from “Financially Mint,” has put her financial knowledge into a super helpful, FREE, 6-day course. As it has an emphasis on helping and teaching students, I thought it would be a great idea (for my benefit too) to try it out and give you a review!

The Frugal Frenchie

Day One: Planning

In day one of this email course, you’re encouraged to create a plan and set goals for yourself. Emails across the next few days will guide you and give you ideas on how you can reach those goals!Review: Free finance course for students

Day Two: Lower Spending and Budgeting

To get you started, one of the most commonly used words in finance – budgeting- is covered. Why is it important? What can it tell you? Araminta also shows you, through pictures and instructions, how you can keep track of your expenses, savings, debt, income and how to set a budget.

A big emphasis is placed on cutting down your unnecessary spending, and if not possible, Araminta has you covered with a guide to student discounts as well as a long list of available ones out there!

Day Three: Increasing your Income

I love how this course is catered to students. It’s always annoying when people assume you can just get a full-time job or something of a higher wage, we’re students! It’s not always possible!

Catering to this, day three of the course gives you several options for side hustles that you can manage alongside your studies, as well as a clear guide to helping you get started on each one. They’re super easy and really well explained- so don’t worry if it’s all new to you.Review: Free finance course for students

Day Four: Pay Off Debt

As I personally have no debt, bar student fees (I didn’t take out a maintenance loan), day four was really interesting for me. I learnt about interest and how potential payments could be made in future, and how to get your head around it. There were also some helpful tools attached to the email such you can try calculating a future payment plan for yourself.

Day Five: The Savings

You’ll see that throughout the first few days, there will be a continuous mention of “15% in your savings account.” This is explained in more detailed at the beginning of the budgeting email, so make sure you go back to it and understand that before day five!

In this email, there are heaps of good ideas on what to do with your savings. This includes investing ideas (with case study examples), with some relevant articles and resources and then explaining what a “FU Fund” is and why it’s beneficial to have one.Review: Free finance course for students

Day Six: Financial Education and Resources

The last day of the course is helping you to continue to grow your financial education. There is a free resource pack available through “Financially Mint,” as well as a list of other places you might grow your knowledge from.  Once you start budgeting more seriously than just on pen and paper, this email has you covered with some great recommendations for budgeting apps that you can try and have a whizz at.

Overall, as you can imagine, I found this course extremely interesting and above all, very helpful. If you’ve never really thought about your finances or don’t know where to start, it’s ever so helpful having tonnes of information in 6 clear, consecutive emails.

If you’d like to join the course, simply click here and let me know what you thought afterwards!

My future plans

Several conversations with my younger colleagues at Primark, who felt stuck and unsure about their futures, made me realise how fortunate I am to know what career I’d like to pursue. I can appreciate this isn’t the case for everyone, so I thought I would share my future plans with you. Who knows, they might give you some ideas!

I thought I’d start with a little educational background. So for GCSEs, I was very much language orientated, taking Dutch and French early, and also completing Spanish and German GCSE at the normal time in year 11. I also had a big passion for history and apparently, was very good at religious studies!

At that point I believe, I was keen on pursuing a career in law. At the time, being in a grammar school, where the “norm” was wanting to be a doctor or lawyer, it was clear where that influence came from. Unfortunately, in my school, psychology was not an option at GCSE level, so I never gave it two thoughts, as I had no idea what it entailed etc.

My future plans

When A-level came around, I had restricted my choices to psychology, French and German, alongside an EPQ. I had dropped my lawyer idea, as I realised it didn’t suit my personality or passions, but psychology was what I wanted to pursue at university. The two languages were just something to fit my strengths I guess!

Fast forward two years, and I’m now only about 14 months away from graduating. I know what I want to do as a career now, but I’m unsure what to do after I graduate. The benefits of having a BSc in Psychology is that it opens a countless number of doors; some go into advertising, health, education, clinical… even work with the police force! Although I have a passion for many areas of psychology, I think my past work experiences and my personal qualities would suit working with children.

My future plans

Of course, the first thought then is educational psychology. However, I wanted to make more of an impact on children’s lives than an education psychologist role would allow me to do. I thus decided that a teacher would be the perfect role for me. Teach multiple children at once, always be kept busy, learn day by day and keep my days varies (plus, have you seen the length of the holidays???).

Here’s my debate, however. After graduation, I’m not sure whether to do a master’s degree, just in case I decide a teacher isn’t for me and want to keep my options open, or should I go straight away into a teacher conversion degree so I can start working a.s.a.p? I think a masters would be helpful to have, however, I don’t see myself disliking being a teacher or getting bored of it. Would it end up being a “waste” of money and not particularly beneficial to my future or employability chances or would it do the opposite?

My future plans

That’s what I’m currently debating, but I hope something will happen between that time that makes the decision easier for me. In the meantime, I better start deciding what to write my dissertation on!

What would you like to do in the future? Or is what you’re doing now in line with what you wanted to do when you were younger? Let me know in the comments!

The Frugal Frenchie

Diary post: Maastricht in summer

In July 2017, once I had finished my first year of university, my boyfriend and I decided to make the most of our free days before leaving to the UK, to really appreciate Maastricht, our local town and actually explore it properly and discover new things.

Even after a year, it’s easy to miss massive details simply because you’re cycling, you’re rushing or you have places to be, deadlines to meet. It’s a classic excuse. Consequently, we decided to just spend the day walking around, taking pictures and surprising ourselves.

We actually did end up discovering new things! We had never realised how beautiful the architecture was, for example. We had never realised how colour coordinated they were, or how they had different styles depending on what street you were. You never think to look at the buildings above the shops, but we did, and we honestly couldn’t believe we were in the same town we had gone through for the past year!

We also found a cute little art exhibition where tea and coffee was served through a van as well as a little camper van giving out food. There were some sculptures just being propped up in the grass and there was music playing, with a little audience of people in deck chairs. In our quest for a free toilet (ah Europe) which was not successful, we also found an old church that had been converted into a dance hall/bar/restaurant. Very untypical and unusual for its surroundings but we loved its uniqueness!

We spent a long time in the park and just walking around too. I personally love people watching. If that sounds stalkery, then I apologise, but I find it so interesting! I also love doing it at airport’s especially as you have so many different nationalities and cultures, not to mention guessing what people are talking about when you don’t understand!

Looking around, I just loved how all the kids looked so happy, everyone was sitting outside cafes and there was a wedding photo shoot happening across the lake. Everything was just film-like; it was just a perfect day.

The Frugal Frenchie x