Tips (part 3) Budgeting
Just before you continue reading, keep in mind that this post is for the budget minded student, so it may or may not be useful!
Even though I had heard many warnings of the unfavorable conversion to the pound currency, I’d have to say I was still unprepared for the pricing differences when I arrived in Scotland. The IFSA group here always joke that with the kind of prices you see on menus, you would expect to be paying in USD instead of GBP. But alas, a typical pasta dish does cost 10 GBP, and a coffee 2 GBP. It takes awhile to do the mental conversions, and understand what the fair prices are.
Budgeting for Food.
One solution to the expensive food options is to cook instead of eating out. It might seem obvious, but cooking will always be cheaper than eating out. It is more time consuming, but I’ve found that I’ve become much more efficient with cooking, and become a more savvy grocery shopper. Cooking or baking with friends is also a great alternative to going to a restaurant. Just to give a lay of the grocery shopping world, the main supermarket in town is Tesco, it’s not too big but it has pretty much everything you might need. Further away is a properly large Morrisons, and Aldi’s. I’ve found that the prices are not definitively better at one market or the other depending on the item. You can also order groceries online and have it delivered to your flat!
Of course getting to know a place and country also requires dining, so be sure to look out the lunch deals or student discounts. On a side note, to look at restaurant reviews try Tripadvisor instead of Yelp — yelp doesn’t seem to be as useful in the UK.
Budgeting for Clothes & more.
Second hand shops have always been a favorite of mine, for the thrill of the search and discovery at great prices. I was so happy to discover a whole slew of them in St. Andrews. They sell clothes, books, shoes, accessories, and kitchen items at great prices, and I don’t feel bad about buying things I will likely have to throw out when I leave. I’ve found that it’s also a great way to see what brands and fashions are popular in the town. I’m guilty of walking through these shops much too often, looking through the stock as it changes frequently.
Budgeting while Socializing
On a final note, I also had to get used to paying for all the event and membership fees at St. Andrews. Different from American University, where the costs are paid in a lump (a big one, at that) sum payment, here everything is separate. So if you want to join any societies, get a gym membership, go to any university events (concerts, parties, balls) there will usually be a fee. Definitely don’t forgo these opportunities, but choose wisely which ones you want to attend.
Keep an Expense Log
Finally, I’d say it will do you good to keep an expense log on excel, just to have a general idea of how much you’ve spent. It’s much better to know the truth than to have a nasty surprise when you run out of money! I’ve created a template off of the one I’ve been using, feel free to use it as you see fit. I think the best way to use it is to save a copy onto your computer. Please let me know if the link doesn’t work, (i’m not that tech savvy) I can send one to you individually.