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Student life-after you start

Top tips to save money as a student

Making ends meet on a student budget isn't easy, but there are ways to make your money stretch further. Read our tips for saving as a student.

Pile of money and coins in and outside a glass jar

Worrying about money when trying to study can lead to stress, and affect your chances for academic success. 

Scroll through our strategies of how to manage and save money as a student and avoid student debt.

Take advantage of all possible sources of income

Student funding

Make sure you apply for student finance early and check out what grants and bursaries are available.

If you have a disability or a child or are from a disadvantaged background you may be entitled to extra support.  

Part-time work

If you can work in your free time to earn extra money it can help to make your maintenance loans and grants go further. 

Make the most of the bank

Get the best bank account by weighing up your options. Keep an eye out for features that will save you money.

Overdrafts

An overdraft is a good safety net to have to ensure you can still pay essential bills if you find yourself short on cash. If you get an overdraft, try to save it for emergencies, not to spend on treats as it can leave you in extra debt when you finish university. It’s better to budget for emergencies in the beginning.

If you are looking for an overdraft, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the overdraft interest-free?
  • If it is, what are the repayment conditions?
  • Is the overdraft guaranteed?
  • How big is it?
  • Can I repay it?

Bank statements

Keep an eye on your bank statements, and regularly track your spending. You can do this easily online. Monitor to ensure any errors on your statements are spotted quickly. Report fraudulent use of your account if it occurs. Checking it regularly as a habit can help you monitor your spending and ensure you don’t get carried away.

Coupons, vouchers and money-saving incentives

With a little research, you should be able to save money on almost everything.

Student discounts

Shops that offer student discounts usually have a sign on display. The NUS TOTEM card is an excellent investment to help find a wealth of discount opportunities.

It can be used online to obtain discounts on takeaways, clothes, dry cleaning, books, music and more.

Thrifty shopping

Buying second hand is not only good for your pocket, it’s good for the environment too. If you can’t find what you need secondhand, there are plenty of online bargains to be found. 

Textbooks

Textbooks can be expensive, but you can often find used ones for sale. Check the student union message boards, bookshops close to your campus and online marketplaces such as eBay to find the best deals. Make sure to buy the most up-to-date publications and when you have finished with them you can make extra money by selling them on. 

If you're able to share textbooks with other students you can divide the cost equally between you. Alternatively, borrow from or read them in the library.

Online shopping

Use the internet to buy and sell on secure sites (ones with the padlock in the address bar). This saves time and money. Online retailers don’t have high overheads, so they can apply discounts that traditional retailers can’t. You can also find voucher codes via a quick google search for many of the top online retailers.

Look at websites like Freecycle and use it when looking for items and when you have belongings you no longer need.

Charity shops

You may not have extra money to donate to charity, but by purchasing items such as clothes and books, you can bag a bargain while helping those in need. You can also purchase essentials such as crockery, pots and pans at the fraction of the price of new.

Close Up Of students paying with contactless Phone

Careful budgeting

If you formulate a budget and stick to it, your finances will be more manageable. You can do this by making an Excel spreadsheet, or by using a money management programme to list your income and necessary expenditure. There are many free apps you can download to help you do this.

Budgeting will indicate how much money you have left to spend on yourself. To help to eliminate the possibility of overspending and getting into debt, set a cash limit each week and draw it out from an ATM, then go out of the house without your bank card. 

Careful food shopping

You can be thrifty with your food shopping and still eat well. It can be one of the easiest ways of saving money as a student and there are plenty of websites dedicated to cooking on a budget. Check out #onepoundmeals on Instagram or the Cooking on a Bootstrap website.

Supermarket brands

Supermarkets often have their own brand products which are cheaper than the big brands. Many people believe own brands are inferior to well-known brands, but often they are all made by the same manufacturers. Keep an eye out for special offers to treat yourself to your favourite brands. 

Reduced food

Supermarkets often reduce fresh food later on in the day. Look out for these discounted items, as well as food nearing its sell-by date. You can always put these in the freezer.

Online shopping

This can help to save a great deal of money, even if you pay for home delivery. When online shopping, deals are suggested to you, which you may miss when physically at the supermarket.

Don’t waste your loaf

A lot of fresh bread is wasted because if you don’t eat the whole loaf, it can go rock hard. If this happens, put the bread under the tap, wrap in tinfoil and place in the oven at 225°C for around 10 minutes. Remove the foil and place back in the oven for a further five minutes. You will have a completely fresh loaf again. You can also freeze sliced bread while it’s fresh and toast the slices individually. 

Pay your bills when they're due

Making payments late can attract extra charges. Make it your mission in life to pay all of your bills on time! This includes your rent, service bills and any other regular payments. This is a good habit to get into for the rest of your life and may be one of the most valuable life lessons you learn at uni. 

Credit  

Understand how credit works, and how to use it wisely. The Money Charity has useful advice on what you need to know about credit. Understand how credit scores work by reading more on Money Saving Expert.

If you have a credit card, try to pay it off as soon as possible. At the very least, be sure you pay the minimum each month to avoid charges.

Communal cooking

If you and your flatmates are happy to agree, you can buy your groceries together in bulk. You could even plan meal schedules and share the cooking.

If food is cooked at the same time, this will save you money on energy bills while you also improve your culinary skills! 

Free money advice and support

Every problem has a solution. Some solutions may take longer than others but help is available – not only to resolve your debt problems but to assist you in managing your money better in the future.

Your university and Students' Union will have advisors to help you. There are also free and confidential services you can contact for help. Make sure never pay for this advice. Don’t be embarrassed, the advisors are not there to judge you.

The following organisations and companies offer free money advice and support:

  • StepChange Debt Charity
  • Money Advice Service
  • National Debtline
  • Citizens Advice
  • Christians Against Poverty

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