The term ‘student’ isn’t exactly synonymous with ‘saving’ – however just because you’ve been stereotyped to be enjoying wild nights out, late stays in the library and £1.50 shots, it doesn’t mean you have to live up to this image. For me, University has been a real learning curve – I’ve discovered that I CAN live away from home, cook my own food without poisoning myself and be independent – and I can manage my own money and budget.
It’s taken me a little while to get into the swing of things of the latter, because while I’ve always been sensible with my finances, I do have a tendency to fritter away spare money on things I don’t need. Last January, I finally got ahold of this and shocked myself by going through my bank statements and highlighting all the bits and bobs (like coffees, teas, sweets, magazines) that I didn’t really need to buy. It wasn’t just £2 here and there, it totalled up to nearly £200 a month.
So, in order to get a tighter reign on this – I’d save the £200 every month and popped it into a completely separate account. I aim to use all this money for travelling next summer instead – definitely well worth giving up silly purchases for!
Anyway, the main aim of this post was to provide a few ‘student savings’ tips – whether you’re in your final year (like me) and want to save to go travelling or perhaps you’re in your first year and struggling to see where all the money is flying off to. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it might help with your student account:
- Set a food budget for the month. It sounds super boring and ‘grown up’ but it helps immensely in the grand scheme of things. Money spent on food is probably one of the biggest outgoings (aside from rent) and so it pays to plan ahead. In my first term, I was probably spending £220 a month on food – which is ridiculous for one person! This included meals out with friends, end of night chips and takeaways. Now, I probably spend nearer £70 a month on food and I eat far healthier – so it’s a win win! Buy your basics – pasta, rice, chicken, fruit, veg and cereal and then allow one or two treats a week. Oh, and don’t shop on an empty stomach!
- Shop around. Even though Asda was most convenient for me in my first year (and I thought they were pretty cheap), I could have saved a lot by venturing to Lidl, which was only a further 5 minutes down the road. Usually picking your nearest is easiest as you save on taxis etc – but if you can venture to your local Aldi (my favourite) then it is most definitely worth it. My weekly shop has been almost halved just by changing where I buy my food. It might seem like an obvious one, but if you are saving for something – it does make a huge difference.
- Buy a young persons railcard. If you’re likely to be going home a lot and using the train, a railcard will more than pay its way after just a few journeys. You’ll get a third off all travel – and it’s only £30 for the year.
- Don’t bother with an NUS card. Most places will accept your University card (yes, the one with the awful picture) for discounts and if you need codes for online stores, sign up to UniDays – which again, is completely free and offers the same discounts.
- Don’t buy all the textbooks – use the library! Although there are a few necessary ones you’ll need to keep on you (especially if you’re doing a journalism course – shorthand was the bane of my life for two years), you can usually get away with taking out textbooks at the library and photo-copying any pages of specific interest. If you do have to buy the textbooks, they can usually be sourced on eBay for about £1.50 – so don’t be fooled by Amazon’s pretty exterior, a book is a book!
- Be strict with yourself. If you rely on your student loan alone, then as soon as it comes in – budget it. This doesn’t mean not treating yourself to that new Topshop dress, but it all has to be relative to what you can reasonably afford. Budget some for food each month, some for treats, bills and ’emergency extras’. If it becomes too tempting to have it in your current account, set up a separate savings account to put it into.
- Take in your tea or coffee. Although student canteens are supposed to be cheap, they’re more than likely to still be a complete rip off. If you have to have a tea or coffee to wake you up, take it in yourself. When totalled up, you’ll probably have saved enough in a year for one large treat rather than loads of small (and unappreciated) ones.
- To overdraft or not to overdraft? I personally didn’t allow myself to even have an overdraft because I get anxious spending money that isn’t technically ‘mine’ however I do appreciate that situations differ and sometimes for University’s sake, you’ll need one. Make sure you look around and if you don’t know if something is a good deal or not, don’t be afraid to ask. You need to double check what happens once you are no longer a student – as finding yourself in a tonne of debt as well as looking for a job won’t be the best start to your career. Think ahead – and be sensible where you can, but obviously have fun too!
- Extra cash. If your University course isn’t too intense, you could look into getting a part-time job to boost your earnings. I’m lucky enough that my blog has been that so-called part-time job for my student life, which I’ve managed to fit in around my lectures, however even if you don’t have a blog and you’re not keen on pulling pints or working in retail, there are plenty of online part-time jobs which hone in on skills students are likely to have. If you’re a keyboard whizz (and can type up to 65wpm) then you could apply for some audio typing positions (Take Note Typing is a good website to start with). You can usually pick up jobs as and when suits you – and they pay around £25 per audio piece transcribed (equivalent to £7 an hour).
Do you have any tips to save money when you’re at University? If so, I’d love for you to share them below!
This post was put together in collaboration with TSB – however as always, the opinions and tips are all my own.