How to: save money as a student

Congratulations, you are starting university and are about to take the first step to laying the foundations of your dream career. One thing that most students look forward to is their first instalment of their student loan, but how do you make it last without getting into more debt? This guide will give you some tips on making your money last longer than your first week.

Create a budget

A budget is a plan of action to help you manage your money more effectively, it helps you take an overall look at what money comes into your account, and what you have to pay out, to ensure it lasts the duration. Managing your money and sticking to a realistic budget is a key to avoiding borrowing more money or taking out high cost short term loans and other expensive forms of credit.

Right now, with your new student lifestyle, you will always be on the go. By downloading an app such as Money Dashboard or Emma, you can manage your finances between lectures. The apps will give you step by step instructions on how to use them. However, to begin creating your budget you firstly need to write down your income, and then your necessities (such as rent, bills and food) that need to be paid on a weekly or monthly basis and finally subtract that from your income. This will show you how much you have remaining for the week or month.

Eat well & help reduce waste

There are a lot of ways that we can eat well, whilst doing our bit to eliminate food wastage. Apps such as Too Good To Go helps consumers find local restaurants, cafes and shops that have surplus food needing to be sold. This means we can browse which meals are available and buy to take away for a fraction of the original cost. Not only does it help us grab a bargain, it even helps reduce some of the 4.5m tonnes of UK food waste that would normally go into landfill on a yearly basis. Other apps like OLIO allows users to give away food and non-food items to people in the local area, for free. This again helps save money, and ultimately the planet, as the amount of waste going into landfill is reduced.

Set up money pots

One sure way to budget is to move your necessity spending money from your main account into a savings account, or a money pot. This means you will always have the money for the important things you need, such as rent, travel and food. If you can lock the pot, even better, as then you won’t be tempted to dip into it.

Sign up for student discounts

Totum and UNiDAYS are great to sign up to as they are recognised across the country by retailers, restaurants and leisure facilities to give students cheaper pricing. A great feature is that you can sign up with your student ID for three years, which means you won’t need to remember to re-sign up each year.

Get a student bank account

Most banks offer bank accounts specifically to students, with various perks and offers to make your life a little easier. Some of these perks can be free travel cards or gift vouchers for supermarkets.

Get cashback on your essential shopping

Whether you are shopping online or in store, there are plenty of ways to get cashback. There are now websites such as TopCashBack which enable you to earn money and vouchers on your online shopping, and Airtime Rewards to earn money off your phone bill when you are shopping in store. There are also CheckoutSmart, Shopmium and GreenJinn, which have special offers where you receive partial or full cashback on supermarket items.

Do your food shopping at the end of the day

In the evening, most supermarkets start discounting items (some by 90%!) that need to be sold by the end of the day. This is great news if you have a freezer, as you can buy as much as you can fit in and then defrost it as and when you need it. Pair this with prepping food in bulk and you are on to a winner. Invest in some food storage containers and you can batch cook and refrigerate to eat later in the week. This is especially handy when you have a late night at the library and are wanting something you can put in the microwave on your return.

Do what you love, for free

There are ways for you to still do your usual hobbies completely free. If you are a cinema lover, there is ShowFilmFirst where you can sign up to film previews at your local cinema.  The BBC also offers free tickets to be part of their live audience when they are filming TV and game shows and concerts. If fitness is more your thing, join your university’s sports club – this helps you work out for less and make new friends along the way.

If you do find that you are struggling financially despite your best efforts, it is best to seek help. Speak to a trustworthy family member or your parents. Your university may have a financial services department or qualified financial advisor who may also be able to point you in the right direction for additional support.