Plum is a finance savvy chatbot that uses AI to help you manage your money and be better off. In ‘Savings Squad’, we feature all the best tips and tricks to help you make the most of your money. You can also join our Facebook group of people saving with Plum for more tips and advice from real users.
Here are some simple things you can do to reduce your student debt and maybe even grow your savings.
...that don't require you to get a second job, do Flu Camp or eat only noodles, even though noodles are great.
1. Be wary of your overdraft and credit
As a student it's easy to dip into your overdraft. In fact, being in your overdraft as student is pretty much accepted as the norm. While lots of banks offer special rates for students in overdraft or limited fees, it's worth keeping an eye on. Banks are unlikely to let you know when you are going to start getting charged and no-one wants a nasty surprise.
Try to avoid overdrafts, no matter how tempting, be especially wary of short term credit. Buying things on credit more often means they are more expensive in the long run. That’s where services like Plum can help, while you have been living your life, Plum has been busily squirrelling away in the background. If you need to dip into your savings, then do, it’s far better than racking up debt and Plum will save you up another pot in no time.
To check how much your bank charged you last year take a look through your bank statements or use tools like Fee Fighter.
2. Save yourself from yourself
Even with a perfectly planned budget an extra round of drinks here and there and you might find yourself short of rent money come the end of the month. Put the money you need for bills in a separate account after your loan comes in so it's not so easy to go into. That way when the bill comes you are ready, you don't dip into overdraft and you can spend your unallocated money all month with a little less stress.
3. Get the most for your money
You don't have to clip coupons to save money on your weekly shop. Try using services like Pouch to make sure you are not missing out on any offers. Pouch automatically find the best voucher codes while you shop online. Just download the handy browser plug in and when you are shopping on 1000's of your favourite sites any available voucher codes will pop up ready to be copy and pasted so you never miss out. The founders say it could save consumers 10% of the cost of every purchase they make with it. If you shop online as much as I do, that is a pretty significant saving.
Make the most of things like loyalty cards, avoid missing out on deals and savings by using apps like Stocard. Just download the app and add all your loyalty cards to it by scanning them in, no need to carry a stack of cards about everywhere. You can even get straight cash back for shopping. You heard me. Check out Quidco or TopCashback to start cashing in on your shopping.
Budgeting is a bore. We know it might also be tricky when you don't have a monthly income to rely on or stable expenses, but thanks to smart tech you don't have to do it the old fashioned way.
We all know trick to start a habit and stick to it is to make is as frictionless and easy as possible. What better way to make something easy than to automate it completely so you don’t have to do a thing? Enter Plum to analyse your spending habits and automatically save small amounts for you.
Knowing that you’re saving in the background will relieve some stress, and seeing how far small but regular steps can take you will motivate you to save even more!
5. Travelling home
With train prices and fuel prices soaring it pays to be prepared. We all know the sooner you book the cheaper, but what you might not know is you can usually still get advance tickets on the same day. Apps like the Trainline can be a great place to look. What’s really good is that they now have a Price Predictor tool on their mobile app which does exactly what it says on the tin. Using the tool you can see when prices will go up on train tickets and plan your journey accordingly.
Take a look at Fare Splitting tools often it pays to buy multiple tickets for different parts of the same journey rather than one. E.G. For a London to Durham return, the cheapest ticket was an anytime return at £301, but four singles stopping at York (which the train already did) was only £82.
6. Boost your budget
There are lots of ways you can quickly boost your pot of cash. But as much as it might make sense to clear out your wardrobe and sell unwanted items, this time of year we have enough on our to do list without running a small ecommerce operation. A really quick and easy way to boost your income is by utilising referral schemes. We recently did a blog post about how our top referrers made over £1k a month using simple tricks. Many companies offer referral bonuses so it’s worth checking out!
7. Don't get ripped off
You know you don't have to pay council tax, but what if your rented house is stuck with high energy bills from a expensive provider? Don't be fooled, you CAN switch energy providers even in rented accommodation, you do not normally even have to speak to your landlord to do this.
Chances are you are overpaying, spend the time doing the research to find a better deal or use services like Plum which tell you when you are and switch for you. If your bills are included in your rent, speak to your landlord, chances are if you can find them a better deal that requires them to do nothing they will pass on the savings to you.
8. Track your spend
Sometimes we have the best intentions but life just gets in the way. Temptation is too much and subconsciously we are wired in ways that make saving hard.
Try tracking your spending for two weeks. You may be surprised to find that your spending is not aligned with your priorities. Realising what you spend more than you would like to on certain “low priority” items will really help you to make small savings in those areas. Choosing the tube over Uber is much more motivating if you know the direct impact on your commuting budget! Don't worry, you can use Plum to track this for you and avoid spending your free time sifting through bank statements.
9. Check your eligibility
You might be eligible for grants and bursaries that you may not even have to pay back. That's right...FREE MONEY. Take it. Speak to your uni student services or use a tool like Grant Fairy to find out what you could be eligible for.
10. Make your money work
If you are studying economics, this will be old news to you, if not listen up. When you do manage to save some money consider investing it to start earning interest.
Investing always feels like something you do if you have a lot of money and ‘know the markets’ but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can start investing with Plum as little as £1 and choose the risk, return and even sector you want to invest in.
Leaving any money in low interest savings accounts (which is most of them) is essential costing you money as the money held there will likely being losing its value due to inflation. Don't forget investing does come with risks so it’s always best not to invest money you need or will be in trouble if you lose.
If you don’t fancy investing, do some research into the best top paying savings accounts for you and move your money there. Usually banks will also give you a signing on bonus (£100-250) for swapping to them too!
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