Being at a university will guarantee you two things; a magnificent time and an empty bank account. Being poor comes hand in hand with being a student; however, this doesn’t mean you have to live off Tesco value tinned beans for months on end. We’ve come up with eight ways to save money and make your student loan reach that little bit further. Stick to these tips, and you will be able to eat healthily, pay rent and even afford a night out once a week. No more substituting dinner to afford your gas bill, hooray!
Invest in a 16-25 Railcard, they were created for young people in full-time education and cost £28 a year. This gives you a third off all train tickets, perfect for those impromptu trips to surprise your mum back at home (or when you need your clothes ironed!) What’s more, if you open up a student account, shop around because different banks offer different perks, comparing student bank accounts are not easy. Natwest student account gives you an interest-free overdraft of up to £2000 and they give you a free Railcard for banking with them – even better!
Food plays a big part in blowing your loan, whether it’s on expensive ready meals from Tesco or those extra large kebabs we all regret eating after a night out. Believe it or not, cooking from scratch saves you a lot of money. Invest in a student cookbook which is full of cheap and easy meals and experiment in the kitchen; you may even come to enjoy it. Also, prepare your weekly shop before leaving the house. It’s all too easy to get distracted by those ‘Big Deals’ signs, and you will end up blowing the budget on something you don’t really need. Devise a shopping list with your flatmates and split the cost, cooking for one tends to be more expensive because there is a lot of waste. Once you get into the swing of things and are well on your way to becoming the next Jamie Oliver, you can ditch your bad habits of getting a Subway every time you have lectures. Make yourself a packed lunch, and take it onto campus with you. £3 a meal may not seem much but if you’re eating that three times a week, you’re spending £36 a month on top of your monthly food budget. You need to be smart, you need to think about what you’re doing with your money if you’re buying food, there are lots of ways that your house could save money at university!
Believe it or not, some things in life are free and are easily available to you. For example, it’s important to attend the nights at the SU bar where they offer free pizza; these are usually the quieter events such as quiz and hypnotist nights. For the cheap entry fee (usually around £4) you get a nights worth of entertainment and as much pizza as you can eat. (The savvy students may even sneak some back to halls for breakfast but we didn’t say that.) If you’re happy to watch television programmes a day after they air, you’re not required to pay the £125 television license. The license fee only applies if you watch the shows as they are broadcasted which means BBC iPlayer and ITV Player are there at your disposal. With most shows available to watch for a month after they are aired, you get good quality television completely free. Just use an HDMI cable to connect your laptop to your television screen, and you’re set, hours of entertainment without spending a penny.Something else students unnecessarily spend money on is condoms. Most GP’s and sexual health clinics give them out for free and in quite large quantities. With some packets of condoms costing as much as £12 for 18, you can save yourself quite a substantial amount of money. (Depending on how lucky you get!)
We’re sure we won’t need to convince you much on this one. Pre-drinking is vital to staying on a budget on a night out; invite friends round and split the cost of a bottle of vodka. Starting the night at home instead of in a pub could save you a lot of money when you consider the average pint costs £2.68. It’s also a good idea to research the club beforehand as some offer free entry before a certain time. Aim to leave in order to get there at this time, and you can save yourself money that can be spent on drinks once you’re inside. You can even look into some student drinking games, too!
Suggesting you buy something expensive in an article about saving money may seem odd, but we’re certain you won’t regret it. Use your student loan wisely when you first go to university and invest in a printer. This will save you on printing costs throughout the next three years and save you a lot of stress on hand-in day when the library printers run out of ink. Make sure that you know everything about student finance when you start to plan for a potential printer, though!
For the ladies who can’t bear the thought of budgeting on hair and beauty but are still looking at going to university can breathe a sigh of relief, we have found the answer. Scope out local colleges and ask if they have an on-site salon. More often than not, they will run a beauty therapy/hairdressing course and will offer all your favourite treatments at a fraction of the price. The only downside is a trainee and not a qualified beautician will treat you, but as the saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers…
This is very important when you’re out shopping, just because it isn’t advertised in the window it doesn’t always mean they don’t accept it. Don’t be afraid to ask; you can end up saving a lot of money just by flashing your NUS Card. This doesn’t just apply to the high street stores either; most of your favourite restaurants offer student discounts with some offering as much as 25% off your entire meal, the full list of participating shops and restaurants can be found on the NUS website.
Lastly, if all that 25% off food is making you a little squidgy around the edges, you may want to think about trimming down in the local gym. We will save you the hassle of price comparison now because we are absolutely certain your university gym will be the cheapest. They may not be as well equipped as your local Fitness First but what student can really afford the £30 a month membership fee? University gyms usually offer a fixed price which you pay at the beginning of the year, so you won’t have the worry of any direct debits coming out either.
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