Managing your money as a student can be a constant struggle, with course books, travel and rent to pay for sometimes as a student your finances just won’t stretch far enough. That is why we have put together this guide for you, so that you can make the most out of your money. Please read on to discover our top tips for saving money as a student!
A student overdraft can be a very useful tool for any and all students when utilised correctly. It is important to learn the terms and conditions of your student account and the overdraft facility itself before you apply for an account. Being a full-time student is (usually) the only requirement for access to a student overdraft account, and you can secure yourself one prior to your studies starting, or during your study period. The limits vary from bank to bank but generally the highest amount that it is possible to obtain is £3000, depending on:
- The length of your degree, for example some banks will offer an increased overdraft over time, with the limit increasing in your 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th years, if this applies to you and your course
- Your credit score at the time of application
- Your chosen bank
- Your location i.e. inside/outside of London
The overdraft limit that you are able to obtain will be interest-free for the duration of your course, or even for a year or two following your graduation. It is important that you do not exceed the overdraft limit on your account as this can then mean that you incur fees, which can be high. Make sure you choose the overdraft facility that is right for you and make note of free offers – don’t be tempted by the banks that are offering the largest cash incentive i.e. a voucher to a particular store or shop. The banks that offer railcards, or NUS cards (which have now been renamed as the TOTUM card) are much more financially beneficial over time.
Keep A Spending Log And Stay In Budget
The best practice regarding spending logs and budgeting would be to start with a written or a digital account of all of your incomings either on excel or written in a book that you can use solely for the purposes of tracking your finances. Then, you subtract all of your outgoings i.e. your rent, bills, and your phone contract. The resulting figure is your amount for the month, which you should then divide by week, so you know exactly what your weekly budget is. You can also break this down further, by day.
A spending log may seem like an old-fashioned means of tracking your spending. However, it is a very useful way of highlighting where you are spending your money and you can then use this information moving forward to help you cut out unnecessary expenses. If you are wanting to engage with a more high-tech means of tracking your spending then you can get yourself a Monzo account. Monzo is a tech start-up based in London that now boasts over 2 million account holders. You can track your spending, set up monthly budgets, get notified every time you use your card, you can also use the card that Monzo provide you with abroad for free!
Shopping smart will save you a lot of money and will help you learn good habits regarding shopping on a budget. We have broken down this tip into the following points:
- Avoid takeaways (especially when hungover or feeling worse for wear)
- Buy your food in bulk (large bags of pasta for example) and cook more than you need for one meal and freeze the rest for another day. Also do this bulk buy shop at the start of the week/month
- Cook with your flatmates and share the overall cost of ingredients
- Make yourself a packed lunch and invest in a thermos – this will cut out the need for the daily meal deal and coffee
- Shop in the evening (especially at the coop) as they massively reduce their products at around this time
- Sites such as Approved Food offer people the chance to buy food that is close to its use by date or best before date. These dates are mostly (aside from regarding meat and dairy) used for quality and eating dry goods like pasta and frozen food poses no health risk
- Take advantage of money off first shop offers. Most supermarkets offer this deal, and it is well worth a quick google search to see which supermarket is currently offering which voucher
- If you are lucky enough to live close to an Aldi or a Lidl, then make use of it. These shops can be dramatically cheaper than other supermarkets, and can therefore help you save sizable sums off of your shopping bill
Student discounts are commonplace now and many, many retailers and shops offer an excellent range of discounts for students. To access some of the best of these we recommend picking up a TOTUM card, formerly the NUS extra card. This can save you a lot of money in the long-term. The following are some of the most valuable discounts offered as a part of the TOTUM card:
- 10% off purchases at the co-op (exclusions apply). This is a very good discount especially if your local store is a co-op. However, currently only stores located in the Mid-counties, Southern and Central England participate in this deal
- 30% off your food bill at Zizzi, and Pizza Express (Sunday to Thursday)
- 30% off plus free delivery at MyProtein
- 10% off at Topman and Asos
- Offers that run for a limited time
- And much more besides, for a full list please click here.
The close second best to the TOTUM card regarding discounts is the 16-25 railcard. This is not restricted to students and anybody between the ages of 16-25 can purchase one. By having a railcard, you are given 30% of all rail fares (after 9am). This can lead to massive savings on your travel expenses especially if you are going to be using the train to travel to and from your university, or back home during your holidays/weekends.
If you want consistent savings on food, nights out or activities then you can use the Tastecard. This operates on a 12-month membership system and can save you as much as 50% off your meal, or 2 for 1 meals at over 6000 stores across the U.K. Such as:
- Pizza Hut
- Pizza Express
- Frank & Benny’s
Make sure you sign up to UniDays and StudentBeans. As these two sites offer a wide range of discounts from multiple shops. All you need to do to register with these companies is your student email address. Lastly, if you currently use Spotify or Apple Music, then be sure to take advantage of their student discounts as each offer a 50% off deal for students, which takes the £9.99 monthly fee down to a much more manageable £4.99.
This is a popular tip, used by many, however, some people still aren’t aware that this is an option or just aren’t sure how to go about buying what they need second hand. Here is a list of places online and in-store that you can make use of for second-hand goods:
- Use eBay or Amazon’s “used” section for books, especially course books
- Use Depop for clothes, Depop is similar to eBay in some ways, but also very different in other ways. It only sells clothes, and is very simple to use regarding both buying and selling
- Use Gumtree, Shpock, or Facebook marketplace for items in your local area such as sofas or furniture
- Use Freecycle for a wide and diverse range of different things all of which are completely free
- Visit your local charity shops for clothes, ornaments and/or crockery and glassware
- Visit your local car boot sales, as you never know what gems you might stumble across
Get Control Of Your Bills
Whether you live alone or with a large group of friends at University, bills will play a large part in your money management and could be eating an oversized percentage of your monthly budget. Getting control of your bills therefore is vital and could end up saving your hundreds of pounds a year. To start, see if you could switch your bills to a different provider. Owing to new laws and regulations that have not long been introduced switching your energy providers has never been easier. Use sites like Uswitch to compare your bills, chances are there is provider out there, bet it for gas, electricity or broadband that could provide you with a cheaper deal. Once you have selected a newer and cheaper provider the onus is on the new provider to liaise with your old provider regarding the switch. Just beware of exit fees that your old provider might charge – though some new providers will actually pay this charge for you. When it comes to your bills, it really is important that you pay them on time. If you fail to do this then you could face extra charges or fines.
Consider Part-Time Employment
This may seem like a difficult tip to follow as your time as a student is severely limited, however it is a really valuable one when it comes to saving and/or making money as a student. Securing yourself part-time employment can help you with money management across the board and can also help you in obtaining further employment in the future.
We hope that you find the information enclosed within this guide useful. We are of the belief that if you follow some, or even just one of the tips we have provided in this piece then you can save yourself money, and as a student, money is very important. It is also useful to get into the habit of astute money management as early as you can as this will hold you in good stead later in life. For further information on money management as a student, please read our blog on short term loans for students.
Here at Wizzcash, we are not providers of student loans, nor do we provide loans to full time students. To find out more about our payday loans, then you can do so here.