It’s the common stereotype that students everywhere are living off instant noodles and energy drinks – and, unfortunately, while this applies to a lot of students, it doesn’t need to. It can be a challenge to save money when you’re used to spending freely without thinking, but there are many great way to cut back on your spending without giving up your social life. Here’s a few words of wisdom…
Don’t buy new books
It is a known fact that textbooks are expensive – with the cheapest ones usually around £30 – and seeing as you’ll need multiple books throughout the school, college or uni year, it can really drain the bank. Borrowing books from the library is always an option, but with a whole class wanting the same books and only a limited number in the library, not everyone is going to get one.
This is where sites like Amazon and eBay come in – offering discounted prices for the books you need. Most of the books are second hand, but seeing as after a few months you’ll probably never look at the book again, it doesn’t really matter if someone has used it before you. Check out charity shops near your campus too – many have former students’ books at knock down prices.
Selling your used books online when you’re done with them is also a great way to get some extra cash too.
Budget in the first week
Fresher’s week for all students is a time for partying, having fun, and spending way too much money – and while it’s great for making new friends and catching up with old ones, it leads to everyone spending more money than they actually have. Getting your student loan and SAAS payments in on the first week can also give you terrible impulses to spend it all; thinking you can afford to spend more than you actually can. To help this, come up with a rough budget on your first week so you know what you can afford to spend throughout the semester.
Technology is on your side when it comes to budgeting too. Free app mySupermarket (iTunes or Google Play) allows you to make a shopping list, calculates how much your basket amounts to and then tells you the cheapest place to buy it. This handy app also compares all the leading supermarkets and shops like Boots and Superdrug and shows you any current deals on offer.
Another great app is OnTrees (www.ontrees.com) – this links to your bank account so you can create a budget and it will see if you’re actually sticking to it. OnTrees also tracks your spending allowing you to see what you need to cut back on when you’re overspending.
One of the perks of being a student is the huge amount of discounts on offer. Many stores like ASOS, TopShop and Schuh all give 10% student discounts with the use of student ID. UNiDAYS is a great app and website that shows all of the student discounts and gives you codes to redeem online. Students can also buy an NUS Extra card for £12 a year to get access to over 150 different discounts and offers.
All these discounts doesn’t give you the green light to buy something new every day however – you won’t save much money doing that – but is a great way to save a little when you do go shopping.
Take control of your food
Going food shopping can be expensive, so why not sign up for mySuperMarket (www.mysupermarket.co.uk) and save up to 20% on every shop? Sharing food costs with your flatmates if you have them is a great way to lower the costs of food too. On top of that, cooking your own food instead of constantly going out for meals really saves cash. The costs of dining out every other night (even if it is just to KFC or Nando’s) adds up and you end up spending a lot more money than you actually realise.
Living with your parents is obviously the cheapest way to live when you’re a student – you have no bills to pay, no food to buy and you are free to spend your money on whatever you like. And your mum will probably do your washing. However, staying at home isn’t always an option; you might go to university or college in a different city (or country) or you might just want the true student experience.
If you aren’t going straight into uni halls and you’re opting to rent privately, the best way to save money this way is to get some flatmates. It is great to have flatmates – you get to make new friends, you’ll never be lonely, and most of all, you will save a lot of money by splitting the bills. It is easily thought that living outside your parents’ house only requires rent, but there are so many extra bills, from your broadband to the electricity, so it helps massively to have others around to split the costs.