Being a student can be a fun and rewarding time, and aside from exams and coursework, managing finances is among the most challenging aspects a student will face. The cost of living, course materials, accommodation and university fees quickly add up, which means making the most of money is a high priority.
Below are some basic tips to help your money go further.
Food and shopping
A significant proportion of your student money will be allocated to food. With this in mind, it is important to make your money go as far as possible by taking advantage of budget supermarkets, deals, and promotions. Consider buying in bulk where possible to save money and ensure ingredients can be used for multiple meals.
Late night opening (24-hour supermarkets) have some great offers. Turn up late at night to enjoy some of the best deals around. While takeaway meals are convenient and save time after a long day of lectures, they are not always value for money, so be sure to bear this in mind. If you’re not the best cook around, invest in some student recipe books for quick, healthy and cheap meal ideas.
When eating out, some basic research will uncover restaurants with happy hours, meal deals and student discounts. Some restaurants let you bring your own drink, which often results in a cheaper evening out. You may also be able to obtain vouchers online. See our Discount Vouchers section for a roundup of popular restaurant vouchers, or visit your favourite restaurant website to see the latest promotions.
The same goes for clothing. Try and avoid designer brands and consider lower-cost options. That expensive shirt or jeans may make you feel amazing, but think: do they really look any better than the cheaper alternative? If not, your money could be better spent elsewhere. Again, look for stores that accept student discount cards.
Academic textbooks are notoriously expensive and one way to keep costs down is to purchase second hand books. Another good method is to utilise the university library as much as possible, bypassing the need to buy textbooks, although this tactic can be hit and miss, depending on the number of book copies available. Another savvy method involves borrowing books from students in higher years, or from friends who have recently completed similar modules. Websites specialising in book swapping for students are also worth exploring.
Save on travel
At university, you will no doubt have to undertake some form of travel, whether that involves using the bus to attend lectures, going from university back to your hometown, or heading for a night out. If you intend to use the rail network, think about the best times to travel and book tickets well in advance. This way, you will gain access to the best possible deals. Many banks offer student railcards when a new student account is opened, so opt for these if you envisage plenty of rail fares. For bus travel, similar deals are available, depending on the local bus operator. Your university will be able to provide details on term time student tickets and student bus passes.
Often, student houses and halls of residence already come with basic furnishings. But should you need to lay your hands on an extra bed, a new sofa or wardrobe, don’t buy new. Firstly, check your student notice board for anyone selling second hand. Secondly, browse websites like Freecycle or Facebook groups specialising in second hand goods. While these are reliable ways to claim furnishings, the best items get snapped up quite quickly. Therefore, keep a keen lookout and if something is of interest, announce your interest early to avoid disappointment.
Students are well renowned for socialising – perhaps at times a little too much! While you will want to take full advantage of all the parties and enjoyment available, socialising comes at a price. For nights out, try and stick to designated student nights. These often have reduced bar/club entry fees and cheaper drinks. Bars on campus will normally have reduced priced drinks for students, so you may find it more beneficial to hang out there instead of pricier bars in town. Eating out can also be rather costly but if you’re a student, deals are readily available. Look for happy hours, students deals and vouchers. It is worth requesting an NUS card and other ‘student card’ memberships. All those pounds add up, so investing some time is well worth the effort.
While you’re a student, be sure to take advantage of the generous banking offers available, as you will no doubt never see such generosity from banks ever again. Most student accounts come with interest free overdrafts and additional perks, like free railcards, insurance, vouchers, or other bonuses. You can compare the vast majority of accounts online, but be aware of the individual account terms and conditions.