University: Why I Went

Going to university was probably the hardest decision I ever had to make. Sure, perhaps not the most life changing (that one goes to asking a tall, skinny boy to help me get to grips with A-Level chemistry), but probably the one that needed the most thought. It definitely wasn’t a decision I took lightly, it was far from easy, and I’m rather hoping I don’t have to make such a huge decision again!

 photo Why I Went to University_zpsncsnldpd.jpgYou see, I was never planning on going to university. I’m not a fan of alcohol (give me a glass of wine with dinner, or a cocktail and a burger and I’m your girl, but getting beyond tipsy is not something I enjoy), I’m not keen on crowded social situations (things like standing in a concert crowd gives me palpitations). I get insanely stressed over exams, I’m a perfectionist when it comes to coursework. And I like shopping. I honestly thought an apprenticeship scheme was the way to go for me.

 photo University Goals2_zpsrujei6ip.jpgAnd then I discovered a career. A job I thought I would love. A job that appealed to all the skills I thought I had at the time, that at the age of 16 I could see myself doing. A job that very much requires a degree.

Nearly six years on, preparing to graduate with a First Class Honours, with that job all lined up for September, I couldn’t be prouder of myself. I pushed myself to move away from home to get the best degree possible, I made the decision to put myself and W through an LDR for four years. I stayed true to myself under pressure to “drink more and enjoy myself,” I finally beat my own demons and realised that I don’t need to make myself ill to get the grades I want.

 photo FB_IMG_1466251622119_zpslhkyvahi.jpgI didn’t go to university for the ‘student lifestyle.’ I didn’t go to university to meet new people, to experience new things. The only reason I went was to get the degree I needed to get the job I wanted. Possibly not the best reason (what if I hated the job? At least a placement year means I don’t have that worry anymore!), but that’s why I went to university.

I don’t regret it. Yes, I might not have experienced the typical university lifestyle, but I’ve made some of the closest friends I could imagine having. The past four years have defined me as a person. I’ve learnt how to cook, how to eat properly. I’ve learnt how to study until the early hours of the morning, how to put up with working in groups where no-one pulls their weight. I can do food shops on less than £15 a week and still afford the bus home, I’ve become a whizz at finding discount codes.

 photo 2015-12-08 12.03.46_zps7ankjz1y.jpgMaking that decision to go to university is highly personal. I’d never, ever suggest doing it because “everyone does it” – I know that for me, had I not decided on this career route, university wouldn’t have been the path for me.

Why did you decide to go (or not go!) to university?

University: Finishing Up with BBQs, Summer Balls and Cleaning

“It’ll fly by” they said.

“It will be over before you know it” they said.

They weren’t lying!

 photo 2016-06-01 17.26.38_zpsgqsyavao.jpgIt’s hard to believe that four years of university are over and done with. Grades have been confirmed, graduation gowns ordered, and my house is pretty much all packed up and ready for me to leave. Whilst I’m quietly relieved that the hardwork is over, whilst I’m loving being able to read actual books again, I’m also struggling a bit a lot. It’s finally sunken in that I’ll no longer live with my friends, that there won’t be any more of the late-night girly chats. I’ll miss moaning about coursework deadlines, I’ll probably even miss my Friday-night train journeys up to W. Yes, I’m super excited to move in with him. Yes, I’m thrilled to be starting my dream job. But I don’t feel quite ready to let go of university, and right now, sitting at home, I feel a little lost.

That said, we finished off university in the most perfect way. A big BBQ (complete with cute bunting – oh so Pinterest!), dressing up for the summer “ball”, sunning ourselves for a few days in France.

 photo 2016-06-04 15.00.18_zpss3jxl8sy.jpg photo 2016-06-04 15.00.28_zps95hapdpu.jpgWith our final year house having a decent-sized garden and a massive conservatory, since paying the deposit we’d be planning a BBQ to end all BBQs for our final weekend. Armed with a fridge-full of burgers, a whole lot of Pimms and multiple disposable BBQs, we cooked up a storm. Tortilla chips and dips kept guests happy, soaking up the first batch of Pimms. Potato wedges and couscous salad bulked things up, peri-peri chicken drumsticks went down a storm. We may have slightly over-catered, but we weren’t complaining when the 2am munchies hit and there was plenty of garlic bread left!

 photo FB_IMG_1466251622119_zpslhkyvahi.jpg photo FB_IMG_1466251638281_zpsfnsdcsry.jpg photo FB_IMG_1466251647988_zpsouipswfz.jpg

The day of our BBQ also coincided with Kent’s Summer Ball – or rather the Party in the Car Park. I’ll be doing a full(er) post on my outfit soon as I LOVED my dress (once I’d tweaked it – the slit was so high it showed off rather more than I was comfortable. Including my belly button… ) but I will say we had a wonderful night. Us girls looked fabulous, our men looked smart, and of course we made the most of our outfits by making the bumper cars our first port of call!

It’s not all been fun, games and lying in the sun however. Packing up a house, particularly one which holds such good memories, is probably one of the most depressing things I’ve done. And that’s before we get started on all the cleaning… Luckily this year I’ve had help on hand to make it that little bit easier.

 photo 2016-06-05 13.05.21_zpslbnlv4fn.jpg photo 2016-06-05 13.05.30_zpsyuazohgg.jpgI wrote a post a while ago on getting your rental deposit back, and I’ve been following my own advice over the last few weeks. When Oven Pride got in touch to send me over their signature oven cleaner, I jumped at the chance. Call me weird, but cleaning an oven is probably my favourite part. Mainly because I don’t do it regularly, so when I do do it, I can see a difference. Whilst I haven’t used it yet (I’m waiting until the last minute!) it’s the brand I used way back in first year. And if it could clean that cooker, it could clean anything! I’m tempted to do a before-and-after once it’s done, if I can brave showing anyone just what it’s currently like without a clean! I’ve always considered oven and fridge cleaning to be one of the most important jobs when leaving a rental property – making an effort to tackle the ‘big’ things shows that you do care about the property – and these are always the more costly items for agents to sort out themselves. Fingers crossed we get all our deposit back – it’s earmarked for holiday money!

 photo 2016-05-24 14.52.33_zpsbi5fck6l.jpg photo 2016-05-24 14.52.00_zps1g6mp42m.jpg photo 2016-05-24 14.52.42_zps9zjpurcx.jpgAnd then there’s hoovering. A house of three girls should come with a hazard warning – there’s a LOT of hair shedding going on! The provided hoover just isn’t quite up to the job, so when Dirt Devil offered to send me their Stick Vacumn I was pretty relieved! In all honest, a hoover isn’t something I ever expected to be excited about (might as well start sending me slippers and chair lifts now guys, old age is clearly approaching fast!) I do like this one. It’s taking a little getting used to as it’s very top heavy, but it’s powerful, relatively quiet, and tucks away nicely into a cupboard or corner (it’s going to be ideal when we find a flat in London!).

Whilst the past few weeks have been taken up with cleaning, tidying, packing and sorting, there’s been fun, lots of food and a whole lot of laughter. There’s also been huge celebrations – finding out I’m graduating with First Class Honours bought me to tears last week, and there’s been plenty of champagne consumed since!

How did you celebrate leaving university? Do you have any tips for making sure you get all your rental deposit back?

University: Coping with Exam Stress

Now it’s March, all of a sudden exams seem an awful lot closer than they did this time last week. Things are getting serious, and as it’s final year there’s no fixing any mistakes made. I’m one of those people who gets hugely stressed around exam time, I pretty much live off adrenaline – and get ill 30 minutes after my last exam ends (true story).

 photo Revision Stress_zpsri2cebsk.jpgWhen PasTest offered to send over their top tips for beat exam stress, I was intrigued as to what they’d come up with. Turns out there’s some good advice here!

The trials and tribulations of everyday life can get to anyone, but when you factor in revising for your exams it can be the straw that broke the camel’s back. If you’re finding yourself getting increasingly stressed about your upcoming exams, try these tips for handling exam stress:

Look After Yourself

Stress manifests itself in various ways – from feeling anxious to random outbursts of anger – and when the pressure is on it helps to remember a few bits of advice to ensure your head remains in the game.

  • Look after yourself and maintain a decent work/life balance
  • Make sure you have a balanced diet
  • Exercise can be a great way of switching off from the pressures of revision and allows you to blow off steam. If you’re not a gym-bunny then a head-clearing walk will suffice
  • Socialise with friends who aren’t on the same course as you – hanging out with other students can sometimes cause more panic as you’re guaranteed to end up talking about revision
  • Don’t overdo the socialising as you don’t want to lose a day of precious revision to a hangover!

 photo Stress_zpsouoykg4g.jpg

Last Minute Revision

If we were all ideal students, there would be no such thing as last minute revision and everyone would be prepared well in advance. So if you’re a last minute reviser, how do you handle the stress and dread? Your first answer might be ‘CAFFEINE!’ but if you overdo this it can have the knock-on effect of making you even more anxious and reduce your productivity as a result. Far better to choose other last minute cram-revision methods…

PasTest offer a variety of revision aids each suited to how well you personally respond to learning – there are vLectures, paper lectures, past exam papers, and even podcasts that you can listen to to help you. Perfect for cramming.

Give A Past Paper A Go

Whether you’re an auditory learner or a visual learner, the proof is in the pudding which is why having a go at a past exam paper is great idea – this can provide a real morale boost when you’re stressing over whether you’ve revised enough or on the flipside can point you towards what you need to revise some more about.

Don’t Turn Up Late!

Though you might be stressing and panicking about the exam, this feeling will be nothing in comparison to how you feel if you’re running late for it. Not only is showing up late embarrassing but getting yourself in a fluster before even sitting down will have a massive impact on how well you perform during the day. Plan your arrival thoroughly and make sure to check the traffic before setting off for any accidents that might cause delay.

If you find your stress level is above what you’ve normally experienced, remember there are options available – whether you visit your student support service or GP or just have a quiet chat with friends and family they can provide help and assistance.

 photo Exam Stress_zpsxlvngalo.pngI’m a big advocate of looking after yourself, particularly around exam season. I also have a rule of a ‘treat’ meal, preferably something vegetarian (I had food poisoning the night before a GCSE exam once, so eating meat is something which stresses me out around exam times) the evening prior to an exam. The best tip for me here is to definitely try past papers – it gets you both learning the material and familiar with the exam layout and style of question. Kills multiple birds with one stone I guess!

*Sponsored post in associated with PasTest, however all opinions are my own as always!

Do you suffer from exam stress? How do you tend to deal with it?

University: Getting Organised for Exams

Now in my final term of lectures (sob) I can finally say I’ve worked out what works for me in terms of organisation. And also what really, really doesn’t. It’s taken years of trial and error but I think I’ve cracked it – a combination of organisation that keeps me on track, but doesn’t eat into precious study time. I’m pretty sure, given how my pre-Christmas assessments went, that my revision technique is working out pretty well too. Though I’ll never agree with negative marking…
 photo Getting Organised for Exams8_zps3nclisgt.jpg photo Getting Organised for Exams7_zps2bgnxj9y.jpg

Keep Lists

I seriously don’t think I could live without a good to-do list! I like to list out big things – such as examinable content for a module. This is something I started doing wayyyy back in AS levels, going through the specification and ticking bits off as I went – it’s an exam technique that could work for all stages (so to those doing your GCSE’s, get on it!) and it’s super useful. I also like to write daily to-do lists. Seeing what I want to achieve each day really motivates me to get on and do it. And yes, I’m that person who puts ‘clean teeth’ on my lists. We gotta start somewhere!
 photo Getting Organised for Exams2_zpsy8i8uxtt.jpg

Print

I don’t know about you, but I get seriously distracted the minute I open up my laptop. I just absolutely cannot practise exam questions by just having the paper open on screen. Before I know it I’ll have 4 Facebook conversations going, I’ll be debating on Twitter and scrolling through my Bloglovin’ feed at an alarming rate. For me it’s all about making sure I’ve got hard copies to hand.

All this printing can get expensive (and annoying – how many times have you been halfway through printing an important bit of coursework when your ink dries up?!) – but luckily Epsom is on hand to (hopefully) change all that. I have to admit I was skeptical when they sent me a cartridge-less printer*, where you should only have to top up the ink once during your degree. Obviously I can’t test the latter claim as that would be a very long review process (plus, y’know, I’m almost finished my degree!) but I have noticed that the ink seems to be lasting better than previous printers. I managed to print a good 20 exam papers and genuinely can’t tell whether the ink level has dropped (should have drawn a line on!). That’s almost the biggest bonus of this printer; you can see the ink levels as you go. No more getting halfway through a document and realising you have zilch! It’s also quiet (no waking up housemates when you’re the one who likes to get up early) and it’s no horrendously bulky or unattractive. I mean, it’s a printer, but as far as they go it doesn’t look tooooo bad. I’d be fine with not hiding it away in a cupboard (the same cannot be said for W’s 3D printer…).

Timetable

Like with the lists, I just like having my time planned out. This is where I’ve changed though! Before I would make pretty revision timetables, with every hour accounted for. Now I’m a bit less prescriptive. I give myself a day where I concentrate on each module – which works now at degree level because each has enough different topics and ‘bits’ so I don’t get bored. Perhaps not the best idea for A-Levels but for me, it works.
 photo University Room Tour 1_zpsy3lofhfl.jpg

Prep

I like to take a few hours around this time of year to work out what stationery I need to get me through the rest of the year. Flashcards always tend to sell out everywhere come May, I always run out of black pens and paper, so I bulk-buy them now. Keen? Definitely. But it makes me feel much more prepared!

Take Time Out

Trust me, when I’ve got a list with a hundred different bits on, I know that the last thing I want to do is give myself a break. I’m actually really bad at taking time out to relax but when I do I definitely notice the difference. I come back more energised and motivated, and often looking at things with a clearer head makes them seem so much simpler. In the run up to my final year exams I’ll definitely be making a little more time for myself…
 photo 2016-01-23 16.25.16_zpsjg2zdiq9.jpg

Look After Yourself

And that brings me onto my next point: it’s really important to take care of yourself. Whether it’s making sure you get enough sleep, three good meals or plenty of water, it all makes a difference. You will never do your best in exams if you aren’t well, so these little things can really boost your performance.

 photo Getting Organised for Exams4_zpsfidsmn1s.jpg photo Getting Organised for Exams1_zpsbn8ljcrd.jpgAnd so that’s it, the little bits I’m already doing in my prep for exams. Yes, they might be many months away, but by getting this out of the way now I’ll be all set to start serious revision come Easter.

How do you prep for exams? Do you start early or are you a crammer?

 

University: Goals for Final Year

Despite being a term in, I’ve realised that I’ve not really set myself too many goals for the remainder of university. Whilst I have already given myself plenty of New Years Resolutions to work on, I reckon I can set myself a few university specific targets too. Nothing like aiming high!
 photo Final Year Goals_zpsvjxmlueh.jpg photo University Goals4_zpsv4l1mdmh.jpg

Graduate, Achieving The Best Result I Can

Up until last year I was fixated on the idea of getting a First. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still love one, and I know damn well I’ll still be disappointed if I don’t get one – BUT I’m not going to kill myself trying. I have very nearly done some lasting damage to my arm by writing too much, for too long, in the wrong position. I’ve had sleepless nights thinking about an assignment question, I dream about spreadsheets. Whilst I’m going to push myself to do my best, I’m not going to let it be detrimental to my health.

Make the Most of Living with my Best Friends

Not much I can say about this one! I’m dreading the summer when we pack up for the last time as it will be a definite ‘not living together again’ – though I know for sure we’ll be staying in regular contact! Having a gorgeous room, lovely house and the best housemates has so far made final year the best year!

Budget Properly

Whilst I do tend to keep control over my (sparse) finances I want to be doubly careful over the next few months. I’ll hopefully try and write (AND stick to and update!) a proper plan, and it will definitely mean no more sneaky New Look purchases…

Do my Physio Exercises Daily

I was really good at these up until mid-December, but then life got in the way and I’ve found myself sitting down to work without exercising, then an hour later wondering why I’m so stiff and in so much pain. I’m meant to do a couple of exercises morning, night and during the way too – I normally do the morning ones, so now it’s time to up my game a little.
 photo University Goals3_zps5uenjr5f.jpg photo University Goals5_zpsz9svlojm.jpg

Keep on Top of Revision Notes Before Revising

I think this was my biggest downfall in second year; not having revision notes even started before Easter. This year I’ve been a lot more on top of it; with two ‘courseworks’ in exam-conditions during my last week of term for one module I managed to get those notes all done and dusted, I’ve done two modules worth so far over the Christmas break, and I’m planning on getting ahead with another module before we start it next week. Perhaps a little keen, but whilst I’m feeling productive why not?!

Cook Something New Once a Fortnight

I often find myself getting into a rut with meals and snacks at university. I have my regular meals which I batch-cook and tend to rely on, I eat far too much carbonara, I stick to pretty much the same baked goods (Nutella Banana Muffins anyone?!). I want to challenge myself to cook a few new bits and pieces over the next few months, I really fancy trying to make a tagine.

I’m also determined to come up with some more healthy snack ideas and recipes. All too often I find myself with a handful of biscuits (and when your boyfriend fiancé demands you keep them in the cupboard on medical grounds it’s not an easy habit to break!). I got a few healthy-eating cookbooks for Christmas so I’m hoping there’s a bit of inspiration there!

Write Some University Fashion Posts

I’m really happy with some of the outfits I’ve been wearing on a more day-to-day basis for uni over the last few months, and I’m also pretty chuffed with my figure at the moment (I went and tried on a certain kind of dress last weekend and was pleasantly surprised by how good I looked – it’s the first time I’ve felt so confident about myself!) so I really should take the plunge and do some outfit posts more regularly.

 photo University Goals2_zpsrujei6ip.jpgSo, some typical ‘study hard’ goals, but also some bits that are more personal, but that I really want to achieve before I finish university and end up wearing a suit each day!

Do you have any goals for the next few months? Any advice for final year?!

University: Final Year So Far

My recent (and rather stressed) posts may have hinted at it, but I’m currently battling my way through final year of (though I do say it myself!) a bloody hard degree. The few months since September have been some of the busiest and stressful of my life, but equally some of the best. It’s bittersweet really – I’m torn between being fully done with studying and not wanting to leave!

 photo Final Year_zpsnvlwtx6e.jpgI’ve come to realise that attending university and applying for jobs is a lot tougher than I first imagined. I know realistically I’ve actually done very well in my job applications, but it’s still disheartening to end up being rejected at final stages, especially when every single other interviewee had already graduated. My goal is to still have a job lined up before I finish university, but equally I’m beginning to slow down applications, concentrate more on uni work and try and relax a bit more. Easier said than done though – give me until tomorrow and I’ll be stressing all over again!

Obviously with all these applications there ends up being a few rejections. I’m not ashamed to admit there have been many times I’ve been in tears on the phone to W, though somehow I haven’t yet opened an email and cried in public. Time will tell…

 photo 2015-12-08 12.03.46_zps7ankjz1y.jpgThen there’s the actual studying, what’s supposedly the important bit. And that’s going quite well. It took me a while to remember how to do things admittedly (the downside of a years placement!), but the work ethic I gained over last year has definitely helped. Settling my alarm for 6am and starting work early is not something I would have done in second year! I’ve found final year has brought a lot more “work through this in your own time”, a lot more reading for some modules (which as a maths student is really strange!). It’s also brought a lot of work for the last week of term – I’m that person who doesn’t finish assessments until midday this coming Friday, that person who is still ploughing through the work when I should be thinking about Christmas.

My degree is so cheery… #mortality #studying #notes #uni #universitylife #finalyear

A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on

Oh, and it’s brought a lot more cheery topics too – with a whole module dedicated to estimating future lifestyle and mortality rates…

 photo University Friends_zpshmypdash.jpgHowever final year has also meant living with some of the loveliest friends ever. We’ve gone back to having house Sunday dinners, film nights, late night trips to ASDA to buy snacks. Having been so stressed I’ve seen just how important my friends are to me, whether it’s W on the end of the phone to hear me rant and cry, or my housemates to make me laugh. So whilst I can’t wait for the stress of studying to be all over, I’m dreading the day in the summer where we pack up and leave. One minute I can’t wait for university to be over, the next I’m praying for time to slow down!

How did you find final year? Were you torn between wanting studying to be finished but not wanting to leave?

University: Stretching the Student Budget

It’s coming to the end of the first term of university and my bank account (and probably most other students’) is looking a little empty I know that my own budget is normally really stretched at this time of year, espeically over the Christmas period, so I was really interested in this infographic produced by TransPennine Express aimed at helping students save money during term time. There’s some great money saving tips here!

 photo Stretching Budget_zpszl2yruee.jpg9 tips to keep your student overdraft far from red

I definitely agree with the railcard bit – being in a long distance relationship means a LOT of train journeys, so I’m pretty sure my railcard has saved me hundreds of pounds since starting university in 2012. I also never buy anything without checking for student discount (or another cheeky voucher code!), I eat out using a Taste Card (I get mine free with my student bank account), and I’ve found an excellent local cinema with £2.80 (!) tickets. Little things like this mean I am still treat myself without breaking the bank – like going to see Mockingjay Part 2 (so good, though the ending felt a little weak). I definitely miss Orange Wednesdays though!

What little tips do you have to save money? How’s your Christmas budgeting going? 

University: Things I Wish I’d Known Before Moving Out

I can’t quite believe I moved out of my parents home three years ago – the time has quite literally flown! Admittedly I haven’t properly moved out. I still go back for holidays or weekends where I just need a bit of looking after (c’mon, we all get those days where we just need our mums to make us a cuppa and a boiled egg with soldiers!), but for the most part I’m away from home.

 photo Before Moving Out_zpsy3zdt3fh.jpgI’ve been thinking recently about how moving out was for me, whether it was easy (it wasn’t particularly easy, but I wouldn’t say it was difficult either – just strange!), and what I wish I’d done differently. I’ve put together a little list of things I wish I’d known before heading off to university – thought it might come in handy to some of out. And potentially make quite an entertaining read…

How to Change a Lightbulb

Believe it or not, I hadn’t actually changed a lightbulb before I moved out to university. In fact I didn’t need to change one until a few weeks into my second year – and then I had to wing it. It didn’t help that the light in question was a dodgy fitting, above the bath, and we didn’t exactly have stable chairs to stand on! I managed it, the light still worked after and I didn’t kill myself, I just wished I’d known how to do it beforehand.
 photo University Room Tour 8_zpsg9vm9b9h.jpg

How to Make a House a Home

Where you live has a huge impact on every aspect of your life, from your financial circumstances to your health and happiness. Whether you own your home or rent it, it should be the place where you feel most safe and secure. I don’t think I did too badly in making my halls a home (read about my university halls here), however I wish I’d known the importance about separating my life and study – I did far too much studying on my bed and my sleeping definitely suffered!

How to Pick a House

Whilst I’ve ended up with two lovely houses, I do think we could have gone about picking our houses better. The Rough Guide to Property has a great checklist for property viewing, though for students points I’d add would be to check for any mould in kitchen cupboards, and ask current tenants views on the property and property management. The other financial guides are pretty good too!
 photo 2015-11-09 14.52.59-2_zpsxi64uvdv.jpg

How to Make My Mum’s Beef Stew, and Make A Boiled Egg

Something I’ve never quite got the hang of! Sure, I can make a pretty good beef stew but it isn’t a patch on my mums. I have no idea how she gets her gravy to be so thick and meaty!

It also took me until this summer to be able to boil a good dippy egg – pathetic right?!
 photo University Room Tour 3_zpsovbo3xie.jpg

The Costs of Renting

Before signing a contract, it’s so important to check what is included in your monthly rent, as general running costs may or may not be included. Also bear in mind the initial upfront costs involved with renting, what part of your deposit is refundable and what you’ll never se again. Also make sure to check how is in charge of garden maintenance – I know several friends who have been stung by having to pay for the lawn to be mowed.

How to Downsize Possessions

Yep, I’m still failing on this one. I have a LOT of stuff and I really need to slim it down before properly moving out into a real flat (hopefully with W, permanently this time!) next summer.

How to Find a Single Room

Something more for graduates I guess, and luckily I experienced this when searching for accommodation for my placement year. I ended up using Spareroom, a site which lets you search for rooms in shared flats or houses, and lived with a lovely lady and her three dogs. Got to say, though, I was terrified trying to find somewhere as I didn’t know the area at all! It’s definitely more nervewracking searching for a place on your own, as if it goes wrong it’s all on your head.

 photo University Room Tour 11_zps5lkerh8w.jpgAnd now I’ve probably scared all of you who haven’t moved out yet! But in all honesty I’ve never found it overwhelming, I’ve enjoyed pretty much all of it. Bar some of my stew attempts…

*Disclaimer: sponsored post in association with Legal & General, as always all opinions are my own!

What do you wish you have known before moving out?

University: Reducing Bills

Bills are becoming such a bugbear of mine. I’ve previously lived in rented accommodation inclusive of bills so never really had to worry about accidentally leaving a light on, or the costs of having weekly baths (with several top ups of course!).

 photo Reducing Bills_zpscfoitbiy.jpgThis year we’re paying our bills separately so I’m more conscious of the energy I’m using. It’s only been a few weeks but I’ve already started picking up a few times that might just help save a few pennies.

Keep The Heating On

Might sounds strange, but I really do advise against turning the heating off completely! It takes more energy to turn the entire system on that it does just to up the thermostat if it gets chilly. Plus it prevents pipes freezing in the holidays. I always keep the heating on and have never received an overly expensive bill!
 photo Falling for Autumn 6_zpsn9gpuxil.jpg photo 2015-09-23 09.23.39_zpsroq6am6x.jpg

Wrap Up

Rather than turning the heating up, I’d always put a few extra layers on first. Do this before you get too cold and you’ll find that you’ll notice the benefit more than heating up the whole house. I personally have to constantly make sure my feet are warm – with our kitchen tiles slippers are a must or I’ll never get warm!

Find Alternative Heating Sources

Our house this year has a lovely conservatory, perfect for studying in. Only problem is it gets bloody cold! Rather than upping the heating up to try and warm it up, we’ve gotten hold of a little electric radiator. While electricity is more expensive per unit than gas at the moment, it certainly is cheaper than (over)heating the whole house! Turning it on for five minutes every hour or so keeps it cosy enough – though I’m beginning to like studying with a blanket over my lap!
 photo 2015-11-09 14.52.59-2_zpsxi64uvdv.jpg

Warm Lunches

I find that if I’m at home all day, eating a warm lunch keeps me a lot warmer – saving me upping the heating! Making a batch of soup to blast in the microwave is my favourite, with this lentil one being super-cheap anyway. And I’m loving a good egg and soldiers too (and turning the hob on warms the kitchen up nicely)!

Use A Slow Cooker

Some of my favourite winter-y meals are stews and casseroles, but it can get expensive to have the oven on for four hours at a time. A slow cooker makes it possible to cook up these meals whilst using less electricity, and it also means I can leave things cooking whilst I head off to lectures. There’s nothing better than coming in to the smell of dinner already ready to be eaten!

 photo Report Done_zpsftdrj8vk.jpgFollowing these tips has already begun to save a few pennies – fingers crossed it continues as the lure of Christmas party dresses is starting to take it’s toll…

Do you have any tips for saving money on bills?

University: Making Extra Money as a Student

As a cash-strapped student, I know just how tough it can me to scrape up enough pennies to join your housemates when they’re heading out. There are few worse feelings than being skint and unable to join in with the fun, so it’s worth considering ways to make some money on the side to help pay bills and fund your social life. Newcastle-based letting agent Letslivehere have put together some great tips on making extra money as a student.
 photo Lets Live Here_zpsyuuhwpq9.jpg

Blogging

Starting with the most obvious method to readers of the site, blogging can be a good way to build a future portfolio for those who want to work in marketing, communications, journalism or anything writing-related. It can also be lucrative if you start attracting good viewership, as you can monetise your blog with advertising and PR requests. I will say however that it takes a lot of time and dedication – it’s not an easy option, and ‘making money’ is not a good reason to start a blog!

eBay Selling

Anything you have that you don’t use can be sold on eBay. Whether it’s for a few pounds or gadgetry that fetches more, it’s all profit from items you no longer touch – so get them listed and pocket a few extra pennies a month.
 photo shutterstock_258726044_zpsqnx4hspq.jpg

Editing

If you’re a strong writer with a severe case of grammar-fever, you can land a role as an editor for self-published writers. Besides setting up your own blog, you can advertise your services on freelancing websites like PeoplePerHour and Fiverr.

Freelancing

Whether you’ve got some skill with graphic design, writing or photography you can turn your talent into a money-making venture while you’re at uni. Getting started can be tough, but once you have your name out there you’ll see more offers coming in.
To begin with, register a website and try to get some examples of your work on it – if this means working for free it’s a small sacrifice at first. However, you should never agree to work for free once you have a portfolio – it undervalues the creative sector.
 photo shutterstock_141207505_zpsqgst19ar.jpg

Tutoring

Depending on your subject of choice, there are plenty of tutoring opportunities that are available to students. You can either independently get CRB-checked and then head out advertising your services by knocking on doors or posting leaflets, or you can use a website such as First Tutors, which is an open marketplace that you can advertise your services on.

Promoting

We’ve all seen people stood on the high street getting drenched by rain as they hand out leaflets that you don’t really want to take. You can be one of those, if you can stomach the experience. It’s a paid job and doesn’t take much effort. Done in pairs, it can even be fun. Ring up your local nightclubs and ask if they have any promotional jobs.

Alternatively, you can promote a brand by becoming a brand ambassador. Brands like Red Bull and Smirnoff have representatives who help promote and sell their product in bars and clubs and accept students for roles. If you’ve got charisma, you’ve got a good chance.

*Disclaimer: post in collaboration with, all opinions are my own!

I never knew just how many options there were for making a few extra pennies – I wish I’d had this information sooner!

What are your top tips for making a bit of extra cash?