Whatever your budget might be, you’ll want to know that you’re getting the most out of your money. We’ve rounded up some of the best ways to save money as a student. Make every pound count with our list of student money saving tips.
You can get student discounts on nearly everything – food, clothing, technology, travel, mobile deals, health and beauty and entertainment. Get a UNiDAYS account for discounts when buying things online, and flashing your NUS card or your university student ID can get you any student discounts that are available in store. Your NUS card is free, but there are paid options starting at £12 for extra discounts and extended time periods. You can track the latest student deals on sites like studentmoneysaver.co.uk and studentbeans.com. Get saving.
But be careful. One of the most tempting ways to stray from your budget is to buy things just because they are discounted. It’s going to take a lot of willpower at times, but try to make sure you only go for what you actually need.
Cheap uni books
Bag yourself some cheap university books by choosing secondhand copies – you’ll pay less per word with a pre-loved edition. You can find used books at heavily reduced prices on eBay and Amazon. Some go for as little as 1p plus postage. Looking for other places to bag bargain books? Compare prices on used book sites like AbeBooks, Alibris and Biblio.
Get prepared and find your course reading list early so you can buy books before term starts, when students from the year ahead will be selling theirs on.
You might not need to pay a penny for some of the books on your reading lis. Lots of the classic English novels are out of copyright and available free on the internet at sites like Planet eBook. If you’re only going to use a book once, it’s also worth checking if it’s in stock at your university or local library.
Your food spend will make up a large proportion of your student budget, but big spending means more opportunities for big savings. Make a shopping list with your housemates and buy in bulk when you can on store cupboard staples like pasta, as well as household essentials like loo roll and cleaning products.
Try to do your food shopping in the evening when supermarkets fill their reduced sections with cut-priced food that’s reaching its sell-by date that you could cook up in batches and freeze for another day. It’s also worth keeping a lookout for promotional packaging and vouchers that can save you money on future trips. Our guide to making the most of your food shop has more tips on sticking to your food budget – from batch cooking to budget recipes.
Bridging the gap with your student overdraft
Making a budget plan is one thing, but sticking to it is much harder. Impulse buys, unexpected bills, getting a takeaway because of a missed food shop – they can all knock you off your planned monthly spend.
Revisiting your budget regularly can help you stick to it, but if you do find yourself in a tight spot, the overdraft facility on your student bank account can tide you over. You can then cut back in the next month to get you back on track. Remember, it’s important to know your bank’s overdraft policy to avoid any fees. Check your balance regularly with mobile banking to make sure you know how much you have left.