University 101; Money Tips for the Broke Student

Hello lovely people!

It’s a running joke within my friendship group that I am the “Spreadsheet Queen”. Seriously, I have an Excel doc for everything, whether that be my annual finances or our house dream to buy a full Guitar Hero set up (definitely not procrastination during summative season or anything…). Armed with my spreadsheets, excessive budgeting and savvy spending I’m about to give you some awesome tips for how to save money as a student.

uni 1010

1. Budget as if your life depends on it

For most of us, university is the first time we have to budget just to live. Whenever I budgeted pre-university it was because I was saving up for things like my first car, but at uni all I’m saving for is the really fancy brand of toilet paper. I like to set aside a couple of hours at the start of the year to lay out all the money I have coming in and all the money that automatically goes out on things like rent, bills and food. That way you can work out what you have left each month for pints and pitchers. It’s important to log everything you spend so that you can keep on track, and review the budget every month and term.

2. Shop smart

If you go to the nearest supermarket to do your weekly shop chances are you’re going to be paying through the roof for it, especially if you’re in a city-centre (I’m looking at you Tesco Metro…). Take time to find the cheaper places. For me, that’s doing the bulk of my shopping in Aldi and heading to a local fruit & veg shop for the extras (shoutout to the one on North Road in Durham, would highly reccomend!). By doing this I rarely spend more than £20 a week on food, meaning more beer money.

3. Meal prep for days

A staple of every student house is the Tupperware cupboard. Your freezer should be rammed with boxes at all times, because what’s the point in cooking only one portion of a meal? It works out so much cheaper, not to mention quicker, if you bulk-cook in advance. This also means ordering a Chinese is much less appealing, at least most of the time.

4. Pre-drink hard

If you’re alcoholically inclined like most of us, predrinks is your friend. Unless your local is as cheap as mine (£2.30 a pint!! I stan The Swan) it’s almost always cheaper to pick up a bottle of spirit and make it last for the week’s nights out than drinking in bars or pubs. An added bonus is that you get to pick the playlist and can start the night in pyjamas; it’s a no brainer.

5. Packed lunches are for the cool kids

If you have a long day of lectures or heavy study day planned make sure you’ve brought your sandwiches with you. This avoids paying the often hefty prices charged in uni cafes, and is often the healthier approach too. During exam season this year me and my friends set off to the library with a coffee in hand too to avoid the lure of Starbucks on the way (then ruined it by going to the pub on the way home; we tried).

6. Don’t forget to save

Eventually, your phone is going to break, your car insurance will need to be renewed or your trainers will fall apart. Just because you’re at university it doesn’t mean that you don’t need emergency money, in fact you probably need it more than ever. Even if this means a little bit of your loan put aside each month or saving a portion of any Christmas/birthday money, it has to be done.

7. If you need it, get a part-time job

I’ve been working pretty much since it was legal for me to do so, meaning not having a term-time job in first year was a really odd feeling. I topped up my loan over holidays however, returning to 30-40 hours of full-time work each time I got a break from university. This approach works for some, others might prefer to work one day a week alongside studying. It’s important to decide early if you need to work, and how you’re going to fit it around university if you do need the money.

8. You do not need brand new stuff, however much capitalism is trying to make you think so

This goes for clothes, uni books, plates and so much more. University reading lists can be long, and if you pick them all up from a bookshop you could end up spending hundreds (which could be spent on more pints). My favourite formal dress was £3.50 from a charity shop, my favourite skirt was £2. You’re also living more ethically this way too, and saving the planet is the coolest thing you can do.

 

Follow these tips and you too can just about avoid being in your overdraft. People often ask me how I afford to go travelling and to gigs so much as a student, and this is part of the reason why. I’ve always been a saver, so uni is no exception.

-Megan, listening to the Daily Mix Spotify has somehow generated entirely in French for me (do I admit now or later that I adore trashy Europop)

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My Experience At Truck Festival 2018

Hello lovely people!

Around a month ago I made a 350 mile journey down to Poole (yes, I drove 700 miles on my own, yes I am mad) to visit some of my travelling team, aka the legends who visited Berlin, Prague and Budapest with me. After a few days of beaches, pub grub and a Spoons night, we made the trip to Hill Farm in Oxfordshire for a little festival called Truck. Here’s the lowdown on a weekend of bands, beer and brilliant times.

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Thursday

After arriving at the campsite, complaining a lot about how difficult it is to carry 22 cans across a field in 25 degree heat and fighting over putting the tent up, we were set for the weekend. Our first band was Jaws. I was surprised at how little I actually knew of their music, but they were awesome nonetheless. They have the perfect balance between chilled songs and more upbeat stuff, meaning they were an ideal setup for Peace, who were the main reason I pushed for Thursday entry. As you’ll know if you’ve read my post on 2018 releases, their new album is a favourite for me, so I was excited to see them play a lot of tracks from that. The set was made for dancing, and weirdly, even moshing! I was surprised that some of the best pits of the weekend came from an indie band, yet the feel-good energy carried those of us used to heavier stuff.

 

Friday

Friday was a chilled start. I wandered around the festival site a little, and caught a couple of awesome smaller bands called Mint and Magique, because everyone needs a break from drinking every now and again. The music really started with Little Comets who I really need to listen to a bit more, considering they hail from Newcastle. After a nice little set we waited around for what I really wanted to see on Friday – Circa Waves.

I’ve loved Circa Waves since I saw them at Leeds in 2015; they are the ultimate feel-good summer band. Perhaps what I loved more though was their heavier stuff from the second album; they’re starting to find a new identity and you can tell it fits so well with their stage presence. I found myself in another moshpit (what can you do?) and loved every second of how high-energy it was. We stuck around at the main stage for Coasts, another band whose music is made for dancing.

By the time Moose Blood’s set rolled around it was absolutely pouring down. I was drenched, but I couldn’t have cared less. MB are a very important band for me, as they’re the music I’ve turned to when life has gone sour for the last few years. There was no better feeling than being truly and genuinely happy listening to them with some of my favourite people in the world; I’m pretty sure I was beaming the whole set. I even converted another friend to the lovely world of pop punk moshpits, which were as always filled with energy.

We finished the night with Friendly Fires, Friday’s headliner. I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of their music, so I left early in favour of avoiding the rain. We ventured back out to a disco tent after a lot of few beers later on, which was surprisingly enjoyable!

 

Saturday

I woke up feeling a little worse for wear on the Saturday, which caused the start of many morning naps for the rest of the weekend, oops! After sleeping off the hangover we ventured out to The Nest to watch Lady Bird; a Slaves-esque up-and-coming Kent punk duo. These guys get the award for most energy of the weekend, as considering it was only 2pm in the afternoon they were fully riled up and powering through a big set. Afterwards I popped into The Barn to see The RPMs, a tiny band I saw supporting We Are Scientists last year. This might sound a bit patronising, but it’s so nice to see them finding their feet within music. Last time I saw them they seemed very young and played mostly acoustic stuff, whereas now they have a definite confident stage presence.

Most of Saturday however was spent at the main stage. My smaller artist highlight of the day was definitely Tom Walker. Armed with a guitar and small backing band he really captivated the crowd, with one of my favourite new voices of 2018. I’d even argue he performed better than the much bigger Jake Bugg, who I’m decidedly not a huge fan of. I find Jake Bugg very overrated, as his performance had no real charisma or power to it for me.

Everything Everything were the most confusing set of the weekend. I didn’t really know them at the time, and upon listening to their very odd lyrics I was nothing but baffled. I also had to stand through an hour of watching 15 year olds try and pit to music that just isn’t designed for pits, and after 5 minutes of circles collapsing in on themselves being amusing it just got plain annoying. I will admit however that now I love this band; I just didn’t give them a chance at Truck.

George Ezra closed the night, and I was pleasantly surprised. I shouldn’t like him at all, as he’s textbook pandering pop artist trying to look like the boy-next-door. The difference is that with George Ezra it feels completely genuine. He has an amazing voice and has written some total bangers. I also enjoyed how he interspersed the songs with stories about how and why and where he’d wrote them, which was a lovely personal touch. The crowd was very family-oriented too, which is always lovely to see.

 

Sunday

Sunday began by popping out at midday to watch the Oxford Symphony Orchestra, who played everything from your usual classical to Meatloaf and Abba. Classical music is my guilty pleasure, and so despite the absurdness of an orchestra on the same stage as the Courteeners, this was a great start to the day.

It was a quiet day, which meant by the time The Amazons rolled around I was actually quite drunk as a result of the combination of being able to finish off my weekend alcohol and having nothing else to do. From my slightly hazy memory The Amazons really proved themselves with this set, as even though they haven’t been around too long songs like “Junk Food Forever” had a great reception.

I was supposed to go and see The Magic Gang next, but decided instead to drink more eat dinner. I then headed out to see We Are Scientists, who did not disappoint. I think my favourite thing about this band live is how they interact with the crowd; there’s always time for a bit of banter in between songs. They played a good mix of old hits and a few from the new album, and due to my slight drunkenness I was properly belting out every word on the second row. Sadly I had to leave the set early, but not without good reason. I ran back to the main stage to meet my friends for Courteeners, who were quite frankly, fucking awesome. I spent the entire set dancing and doing a lot of shouting in a very Northern accent, aka my two favourite things in life. GOD BLESS THE BAND.

As Courteeners played “What Took You So Long?” (tune), fireworks were lit behind the main stage, and here lies my one of my favourite realisations of the weekend. I had driven hundreds of miles to stay with people I’ve only known for a year, and had been genuinely and completely happy the whole time. I never thought I’d be here this time last year. My phone was off, social media was far away, the music was insane and the company even better. Some of the stories are definitely not blog-friendly, but it’s safe to say Truck this year was a life highlight.

 

And afterwards I got even drunker and went to watch Kurupt FM, a parody grime act. I do not remember most of this set, but do remember being sat down in a camping chair by my friends afterwards to sober up. I’m a classy gal, what can I say?

 

If you take anything from this post, take that Truck Festival is a genuinely lovely little festival. Their lineups are shockingly good for a fairly cheap price, the vibe is amazing and you always feel safe onsite. I would definitely return, and may even do so next summer.

 

-Megan, definitely not listening to the Truck playlist and definitely not being extremely nostalgic

Shuffle Songs Tag

Hello lovely people!

I was tagged in the “Shuffle Songs Tag” by Katie & Harry over at Nerds, Numbers, Natterings. I’ve seen this doing the rounds for a few weeks, and I won’t lie I’ve been waiting for someone to tag me ever since (attention seeking? me? never…), because it is right up my street. Essentially, you have to put your playlist on shuffle and write about the first ten songs to come up.

Now, I have a lot of playlists. I’m talking like a good 30. Thankfully I have one entitled “ensemble”, which consists of pretty much everything I’ve ever listened to. Let’s dive in!

Pixieskies (1)

1. Brianstorm – Arctic Monkeys

Back in the good old days of Arctic Monkeys, before Alex Turner turned into a beardy vegan wanker (yes I still love that joke). I remember this being absolutely mental when I saw them live, and I still love it 5 years later.

2. Fear of The Dark (Live at Donnington 1982) – Iron Maiden

I was raised on bands like Maiden, Sabbath and Whitesnake, so this is no surprise. I rarely listen to Iron Maiden’s studio albums; it’s just something about the nostalgic energy of their live albums that I love. This comes from Download Festival way before it was ever called Download, and there’s every chance that my Dad was there in the crowd that year. Fear of the Dark will always be a classic.

3. Suzanne – Creeper

Why don’t Creeper have more albums? This is the song I actually discovered them through, and it’s such a great single. Fast, catchy, and a big built-up chorus; Creeper are bringing goth punk back and I’m here for it.

4. Sockets – Slaves

This takes me right back to a sweaty Cumbrian venue in late 2016. From memory Slaves opened with this song, starting 45 minutes of total adrenaline and insane moshpits. I don’t listen to much pure punk, but this is an exception.

5. Any Port – Dead!

I’m still completely gutted that these guys split up a few months back, because their debut album is one of my favourites of the year. I managed to see them live back in March, and almost didn’t go as I was so sick with a flu that felt more like the plague than anything else, but I’m so glad I did now. Any Port is a tune, even though they’re gone you should still give the music a listen.

6. Kathleen – Catfish and the Bottlemen

Kathleen reminds me of summer 2016, mostly spent with an old group of friends going on our first adventures with our own cars. It’s feel-good, summery, and just outright lovely.

7. House on a Hill – The Pretty Reckless

I love this song almost entirely for it’s spoken introduction – “They have created a repressed society and we are their unwitting accomplices. Their intention to rule rests with the annihilation of consciousness”. It’s all about how powerless we are as people against those who control us, and I think it’s crazy that this song was written in a pre-Trump world.

8. Something From Nothing – Foo Fighters

This is actually one of my least favourite Foos tracks, but I think that’s because I don’t have the same emotional connection with their newer music than with the songs that have been around my whole life. I do really love the groovy pre-chorus riff though.

9. Poison in Your Veins (Live) – Alter Bridge

I’m glad these guys came up, because it gives me an opportunity to shout out an extremely underrated band. This song is live from the O2 Arena, and shows off the beautiful combination of Mark Tremonti’s lead guitar skills and Myles Kennedy’s extremely unique voice. Seriously, if you love rock even a little bit, give them a listen.

10. No Roots – Alice Merton

Honestly I just like this because it’s catchy af and Radio X played it so many times when it came out that I learned all the words in about two days. No shame.

ensemble

So, that’s it! I could keep blabbering on about my favourite songs for days on end, but that’s for another post. Let me know what’s top of your playlist in the comments.

-Megan, shuffling through my main playlist (wow no shit Megs)