The first few weeks of University seem to be all about making an impression. It’s easy to see why too, you’re away from home and completely out of your comfort zone with no, or very few, of your group of friends around. This means it’s down to you to make new ones and many resort to “talking points” such as showing off the latest tech to their new flat or course mates, like the latest all-singing all-dancing smartphone or the latest laptop off the production line from one of the tech giants.
But while this desperation for popularity is all well and good, it isn’t that great for the financial situation, something notoriously perilous for students. For months, students can be waiting for their next loan installment or donation from the bank of mum and dad, and all because they went big on the gadgets and “essentials” at the start of the semester. But, for the benefit of first-time students, and even those returning for second or third years, what are the “essential gadgets” and how can you save money on them?
Well, obviously, you have your phone. The must-have right now is the smartphone, the likes of the iPhone and BlackBerry or Samsung Galaxy. With the ability to text, ring, email, play, organize and listen to music, it’s easy to see why everyone has one, but they don’t come cheap. Unless you can use discount codes, the handset itself can be very expensive, with contracts to sign and agreements to make, but you can get discounts or perks on your package, with extra minutes, messages or data usage, you’ve just got to look around the various providers for who offers the best deal for you.
You obviously need a laptop, something you can do all your work on and get your revision in order, (and socialize of course). Laptops by their very nature are expensive, particularly at the top end of the scale with the very latest models from the biggest names in the business, but you can make huge savings by investigating the mid-range laptops from similar brands who – in many cases – offer great computers, just without the price tag worn by the big guns.
Then, in addition to your laptop, you need a printer to actually hand in your work. The common mistake here is to invest in a model that offers everything you could possibly need…if you worked in an office. For a student, you only really need a printer that produces your work and allows you to read through all your notes. Sure, you might need to do the occasional piece of scanning or photocopying, but this could be done in the library, saving you extra cash.
Other than these, you wouldn’t say that anything was particularly “essential.” One of the latest must-have gadgets is a tablet computer, but if you have a smartphone and laptop, you can survive without one. Then you have a television, but again, you could survive with the one in the communal area, and you can easily play all your music through your laptop.