Student Money Savers
10 Simple Steps to Save Money at Uni
For the majority, saving enough money to last the whole term at university is a forlorn endeavour. Indeed, according to research by vouchercodes.co.uk it will only take the average student 51 days to burn through their first student loan installment. Once that installment arrives it sits in your account menacingly and the temptation to spend is rife.
Students aren’t prepared for the consumer driven journey they are about to embark upon – whilst they may have passed their exams to gain entry to these establishments, they have been taught no life lessons on how to be “cash savvy”. There are a myriad of ways for students to cut costs however, and we at the Consumer Council have therefore constructed 10 simple steps, which we hope can prevent that first term loan becoming a premature groan:
1 GET THE BIGGEST 0% OVERDRAFT STUDENT ACCOUNT
Now you are a student, big banks are bound to pounce on you with the intention of attracting your custom for years to come. They often tempt students with 0% overdrafts and it is essential that you go for the biggest 0% overdraft deal possible (most students will need one so make sure you aren’t charged for it!)MoneysavingExpert.com.
Remember to never go over your overdraft limit (this is a lifelong rule). Charges will soon shoot up and you’ll be left in a vicious cycle, which can be tough to escape. Furthermore, you will be credit scored. When you apply for any debt product, including an account with an overdraft, the lender will credit score you to decide how desirable a customer you are.
2 COURSE READING LISTS – BUY TEXTBOOKS SECOND HAND/BORROW OR USE THE LIBRARY
Why splash out on new textbooks when second hand material is just the same but at a shade of the price? You’ll find a number of second and third year students desperate to sell their old textbooks for a sprinkling of silver – check your course Facebook page or explore Amazon. Better still, rummage through the library’s shelves for books.
3 STUDENT SAVING/DISCOUNT CARDS
Although you will automatically get student discounts in some places with just your university ID card, it is well worth investing in an NUS Extra card too. It costs as little as £12 for the year and opens the gates to over 150 discounts and offers from major retailers (ASOS, Dominoes/Odeon Cinemas/Co-op to name a few).
The 16-25 Railcard is another expenditure worth its weight in gold (especially if you’re on the move often/a long way from the nearest airport). It costs £26, but cuts the cost of your train journey by a third and can save you hundreds by the end of the year. It should also be noted that coach travel tends to be much cheaper, with National Express offering 30% discounts and Megabus offering coach rides from just £1.
4 TOO MANY COOKS SLICE THE COST
Another idea is to cook in groups. Rather than buying your food individually, head to the supermarket with your flat mates and buy in bulk. Rustling up a big meal is less work all-round, saves on cash and washing up!
5 HUNGRY/HUNGOVER? DON’T GO SHOPPING
Never shop when you’re either hungry or hungover as those impulse buys will drill a gaping hole in your pocket. You will be leaping round those aisles like a man possessed, unable to make rational decisions, whilst that growling stomach of yours is craving countless snacks.
Write a shopping list and stick to it – what do you need and what can you live without? You may want two fillet steaks but come the end of the term you will be counting the last of your coppers reflecting on any unnecessary purchases.
Furthermore, a good time to shop is late at night. You will find a lot of branded food at big price reductions, as they are on the brink of their best before dates.
6 SUPERMARKET DOWNSHIFT CHALLENGE
In your life prior to being a student, you would have become increasingly familiar with big name brands. They are often glamorized by hypnotizing star-studded adverts and have been a reliable food source in the past, but it is now time to waver you allegiance to the own brand club.
Challenge yourself – Drop one brand level on everything and see if you can tell the difference. If you can’t, stick with the cheaper one.
Drop just one brand level on everything and the average bill is cut by 30%. On a £20 weekly shop, that’s over £300 a year less!
7 TRY TO BUDGET SPENDING AND USE MONEY MANTRAS
Take ten minutes a week weighing up your income with your expenditure. It doesn’t take a genius to tell you that budgeting is essential at university and you will be giving yourself a pat on the back when others are struggling in the final few weeks of term. This will only help you in identifying exactly where your money is going and where it’s possible to cut back or opt for cheaper alternatives. Furthermore, “Money Mantras” is a useful mechanism to help keep those pennies in your pocket:
8 TIGHTEN UP ON TAKEAWAYS
According to research, your average student spends around £59 a month at the supermarket but £54 a month on eating out and takeaways (thisismoney.co.uk). Whilst these stats shouldn’t prevent you from having the odd greasy kebab or pepperoni pizza, you should try and limit yourself to such temptations. After a night out, you won’t be able to tell the difference between a frozen £2 pizza and one five times the price.
9 NIGHTS OUT – DON’T GET CHAMPAGNE FEVER
Your first week at Uni won’t be a cheap one. Freshers week for most is seven days of excess expenditure on too many shandys. Bars/clubs know that you have a fresh installment sitting in your account and aren’t remotely bothered whether you plough through it in the first week. They are quick to prey on any money naivety and their drink deals are exhibited to draw you in. Have fun by all means, but don’t get drunken wallet syndrome.
10 DON’T USE PAYDAY LOANS TO MAKE ENDS MEET
Whilst this is a booming industry, the only people it helps are the lenders. Interest rates are exorbitant and people are often left rolling over the debts from week to week until the amount owed is colossal. If you’re running out of money, talk to your bank, look for a part-time job or ask your parents for assistance. The National Association of Student Money Advisers (Nasma) will also be happy to help you find some far better alternatives.
Saving enough money to last you through your whole first term at university is sure to be a challenge, but we at the Consumer Council hope these ten simple steps will have you crushing any money matters down to a fine art by the end of your studies. Have dexterity and you’ll always stay one step ahead of the game.