If you’re heading off to university this year, take a look at our student money saving tips:
- Shop around for student bank accounts
- Make a budget for your student loan
- Invest in an NUS card
- Shop savvy with your weekly food shop
- Look for freebies online
- Avoid impulse buying
- Look around for a cheaper provider
- Ditch the TV license if it isn’t necessary
- Check your tax code to see if you’re overpaying
- Look for free software downloads before paying for the branded versions
Heading off to university comes with lots of expectations: great nights out, meeting lots of wonderful people and the freedom to do as you please. It also comes with an almost guarantee that your purse strings are going to be tightly drawn. UK based payday loans provider, Mr Lender, has put together a list of student money saving tips to get you by.
Choose your bank carefully
It can be very easy to simply stick to what you know, and take out a student account with your current bank. However, this may not always work in your favour. Some banks might offer great perks such as discounted rail fair, cashback in certain shops, money off particular purchases, etc. However, these can sometimes come with a fee. Always shop around and take out a student account with the bank offering the best perks, for the cheapest price. You may also want to look for a bank which offers interest free overdrafts, as these can come to the rescue when you find yourself short of cash.
Another perk you may want to look for, is banks who offer ‘save the change’ schemes. When you make a purchase using your bank card, your account will automatically round up the transaction and move the difference into a savings account. For example, if you spend £19.14 on Nando’s, your account will round up the transaction to £20, and put the remaining 86p into a savings account. While this certainly doesn’t sound like much, all those pennies will soon add up. This is a great idea if you find it difficult to commit to saving.
Make a budget
Making a monthly budget may not seem like it could help very much, but it will certainly prevent you falling behind on any bills. Knowing exactly where your money is going each month will also let you see how much spare cash you’ve got left over at the end of the month for any nights out and takeaways. Make a list of all of your recurring monthly expenses such as rent, gas and electric, and then add how much you spend on transport and your weekly shopping. When writing up your monthly budgets, make sure you take into account any upcoming birthdays or events which are going to cost you money.
Money saving incentives
Investing in an NUS card will certainly save you plenty of money while you’re a student. Having an NUS card gives you access to discounts and freebies at a whole variety of shops. If you haven’t got an NUS card, then it isn’t the end of the world. You can still take advantage of certain discounts using just your student ID. Discounts such as money off cinema tickets, freebies in McDonalds, and discounts in certain clothes shops.
There is a certain stigma attached to own brand products, however they are often equally as good as the leading brands, and just a fraction of the cost. It can also work out far cheaper to buy multipacks, rather than individual items. Another supermarket tip is to do your shopping at the end of the day where many items will be moved to the reduced section. A majority of the time, there isn’t anything wrong with these products, other than the fact that the packaging is slightly damaged, or they’ve gone past the ‘best before’ date.
The ‘best before’ date is widely misunderstood. Plenty of people will look at the date and assume that just because it is a few days over, that it must be bad and they throw it away. However, it is only food which has gone past the ‘use by’ date which needs to be thrown away. The ‘best before’ date is simply there to tell you when the food will taste at its best.
Buy in bulk
If you and your flatmates all get along and enjoy the same foods, it may work out cheaper to do the weekly shop as a house, and cooking dinner together instead. This could save you money, and will also reduce food waste too.
Look on freebie websites
Buying furniture is definitely a costly affair. But there are plenty of freebie websites online which mean you can pick up a whole range of goods – all for free. Sites such as Freecycle allow you to find anything from bookshelves and televisions, to teacups and books. The only catch is that you will need to go and collect the item yourself.
Keep the luxuries a luxury
Avoid impulse buying, and instead save up for those little luxuries. It can be very easy to buy on impulse when you have an overdraft or credit card to hand, but this is something you need to avoid if you’re trying to save money. By avoiding impulse buying you are also more likely to reconsider whether you truly need what it is you’re intending to buy.
Always compare your providers to ensure you are getting the best deals. You could in fact save money on your gas, electricity, broadband, TV packages and phone bills by switching providers. You may not always be able to find a cheaper deal, but it is always worth checking. The best time to look for cheaper deals is just before your contract is due for renewal, as your providers are likely to give you a discount to get you to stay.
How important is a car?
Cars are incredibly expensive to run, from the petrol and insurance to the MOT and tax, so have a think about how necessary a car really is. How often do you use your car? Could you walk instead? If you are using your car for long drives, weigh up how much it would cost to get a rail card in comparison to how much your car costs to run. Some bank accounts actually offer a discounted 16-25 railcard for customers who use their student accounts.
Check your tax code
If you have a part time job, you are not likely to be earning above the national Personal Allowance, currently set at £11,500. This means you could be overpaying on Income Tax if you have the wrong tax code. Not only could you potentially save yourself some money each month by checking your tax code, but you may also be entitled to a rebate if you do find that you have been overpaying Income Tax.
Do you need a TV license?
If you’re more of a Netflix kind of person, you may want to ditch your TV license. Of course, you will still need one if you watch television occasionally, but if you prefer to watch your programmes on catch up, or simply binge watch series after series on Netflix, then you can certainly cancel your licence. Though be careful, while most online catch up websites are free to watch and do not require a TV license, you will still need one to watch BBC iPlayer.
Look for free software alternatives
When it comes to buying software, there are plenty of cheap/free alternatives to the more well known branded products. If you intend to download Microsoft Office for example, take a look at Libre Office. This free download works just as well as Microsoft Word, and could save you plenty of money. There are also free alternatives to Photoshop and other pieces of software, so definitely look around before you commit to such a large purchase.