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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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.

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

Why young children can’t lie

As many of you may know, I study a BSc at Bournemouth University. Lately, we have been learning about developmental psychology- which I have to say has been one of my favourite topics so far! I learnt something interesting the other day, which I thought I would share with you all: why young children can’t lie? And why can they learn to do so later on?

The Frugal Frenchie

The answer can be found in a child’s theory of mind. The theory of mind is essentially the ability to realise that not everybody believes, desires and feels the same way you do (Premack & Woodruff, 1978). It’s also useful for predicting and explaining other people’s behaviours and allowing us to be empathic.

Theory of mind develops gradually throughout childhood, which means that some children may be at higher or more developed levels of theory of mind than others.

Why young children can't lie

Here are some examples to show you what I mean:

  • 3-4 months: social perception
    • You may be surprised, but here, children can already start showing signs of theory of mind.
    • They are capable of following another person’s gaze, which shows that they are aware of what other’s are looking at and that it’s not the same as them
  • 12 months: social referencing
    • For those of you with children, let me know in the comments if you’ve noticed this around this age!
    • An experiment called the visual cliff, shows this clearly
      • A child will make a judgement or a decision, based on the reactions of others
  • 12-18 months: intentions
    • In experiments, children around this age started to understand peoples’ intentions
      • E.g. When an experimenter was trying but failing to put a key on a hook, the child would do it correctly, rather than imitating the experimenter, as they instead their intention (Meltzhoff, 1995)

As you can see, the development is slow at first, but when children they get older, they’ll start to show obvious signs for the consideration of others, such as pretend play with toys, or showing empathy.

Why young children can't lie

Before this point, however, children are unable to understand that others know different facts or think different things. If a child knows that they stole the biscuits or drew crayon on the wall, they will assume that the parent will know this too, so they cannot lie.

Those tricksy puppets…. in an experiment by Peskin (1992), they asked 3-5 year olds, with a friendly puppet, what their favourite sticker was. Of course, with no motive to lie, they told the truth. The children were then told that a naughty puppet would come along and steal their favourite sticker. Sadly, when the naughty puppet asked the 3 (and 50% of the 4) year olds, their lack of theory of mind showed, as they told the naughty puppet their favourite sticker and it got stolen.

So there we have it! After the ages of around 3 years old, children can start to lie as their theory of mind becomes more developed, and they realise that you don’t know everything they do!

What do you think? Is this surprising? Let me know your thoughts!

Diary post: my first week of university

As it’s the first week of my university experience here in the UK, I thought I would make a little diary post about it. Hopefully, this will appeal not only to my old uni friends from abroad, who are wondering what it’s like but also for anyone who is just starting university this year.

Diary post: my first week of university

Monday 25th September

Today was my first day of uni. Surprisingly, my timetable seems quite empty with actually Mondays’ being one of the “longest” days of the week. Always bright and cheerful, I started the year with a statistics (or what they refer to as EMSA) workshop and a recap test.

Although I wasn’t happy with the surprise at the time, I’m kind of glad they did one as it made me realise just how much I’ve forgotten! It’s definitely time to get those stats notes out from last year! Compared to my last university, Maastricht, I found statistics much more understandable. Don’t get me wrong, they were fab over there and so intelligent, but here, they simplify everything, gave us a workbook with exercises and a step to step guide.

I really hope they don’t teach the whole degree like this as it may get slightly patronising, but for maths-related topics, which to say the least, were never my forte, this was definitely helpful!

In my introduction lecture, I met with another girl who had transferred from the University of Winchester, so it helped that we were in the same boat. During the summer, I manage to get in contact with a girl that’s already on the course so I hope to finally meet her at some point, despite not having the same schedules.

Tuesday 26th September

Not going to lie, although my lecture today was interesting, I think it’s very irritating being at uni for only an hour. An hour?! Plus, the lecturer ended 10 minutes early so it kind of feels a little pointless.

My motivation is definitely still high and it was about personality, a topic that greatly interests me, but I can imagine in 6 months time, coming in for just 50 minutes will seem a lot more of a chore.

Nevertheless, I finally put a name to my personal tutor too which was useful. I believe I have a meeting with him in a couple of days time so hopefully, he can answer my many questions about essays and the like.

Today he covered the humanistic approach to personality which talks a lot about free will, what our desires are (self-fulfilment, worth etc.) and different theories. Really very interesting! I found one theory in particular rather curious and this was the “hierarchy of needs” (Maslow, 1943), if you’d like more information or a post about it do let me know.

Oh also, I finally met that girl I’ve been chatting on facebook with! I met with her a little earlier before the lecture and she showed me around a little. From an outside glance, the library seems a little disappointing but the new building, called the fusion building, is absolutely gorgeous!

Diary post: my first week of university

Wednesday 27th September

Well, I’ll definitely remember Wednesday’s as “science day!” From 9am until 11am every week, I will be bombarded by two hours of neuroanatomy/biopsychology. This is essentially the scientific study of the biology of behaviour.

In this lecture, seeing as it was the first one of year 2, it covered mostly a recap of everything we should already know. From the basics of “there are 4 lobes,” to a slightly more in-depth look at the components of the hindbrain, midbrain and forebrain.

It was a nice, slow start and easy to follow and understand (a relief)! I always find it difficult to take notes in a more biological lecture as there are always diagrams attached to the slides which obviously can’t be drawn out but always seem relevant and important! Still, I think it went well for a first shot.

Thursday 28th September

I spent the majority of last night doing some extra reading for today’s seminar. This will be my first ever seminar (as the concept wasn’t really used in Maastricht) and I have no idea what to expect!

It ended up being quite a short but sweet summary of Wednesday’s lecture. It did feel a little like being in primary school again, what with working in pairs etc. but I’m hoping that once the difficulty increases, I’ll appreciate that a lot more.

This afternoon, I have a long break and then have a personality seminar. It’s with the same lecturer as Tuesday and afterwards, I’ll have a meeting with my personal tutor. It’s a good time to get some focused studying done and socialise with my new friend!

The personality seminar didn’t add anything new, it mentioned a few assessment techniques with role play, but apart from that nothing of value was added. The meeting ended up being a generic one about how to behave and what not but it ended up being over an hour because of a “plagiarism checker” sheet we had to complete and a worksheet on how to practice shortening sentences. I personally hate things like that so so close to dinner, I wasn’t in the best of temperaments!

Diary post: my first week of university

Friday 29th September

Today’s another long day. To avoid walking an hour, I have to get a lift almost an hour early at the same time as the sibling’s school run. This meant a 7:15 am wake up call for a 9 am lecture. It’s difficult haha.

I had a 9-10 lecture on personality again (we have 2 hours a week per topic) and then later a lecture on statistics, from 2-3pm.

The statistics lecture was one I was dreading in all honesty. Back in Maastricht, they would go step by step but only showing us the formulas as they went. Trust me, once you reach an equation that has 5 or more steps before even reaching the point you want, it gets so confusing!

The guy who ran this lecture spoke with no microphone. He was confident, passionate and it actually put a smile on his face. Through his waffling, I could really take in what he was saying, as well as keeping on track with the slides of the presentation.

I left that lecture hall and my first week on a high!

Do you remember your first week of uni? What was it like? If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below.

The Frugal Frenchie x