The idea of heading back to college or university may mean friends, essays… and meals of beans on toast!
If you want to ensure you have the money to treat yourself to something a little more exotic from time-to-time, then you might be looking for a few student saving tricks to help.
There is no better time to get into personal finance habits which will stay with you long after your time at university 🎓
Get a specific student bank account 🏦
Applying for a bank account specifically for students may seem like an obvious task but it is important to scout the market for the best deals, rather than settling with the bank provider you already have.
Although not a necessity, student bank accounts are useful as they are specifically geared towards student needs. They often come with perks such as an Amazon Prime subscription or railcards which can help you stow the pennies away as you go.
Amongst other things, student bank accounts usually offer a predetermined fee-free overdraft. The overdraft, a pre-approved amount of money that you can borrow from a bank on your student debit card, may come in handy for covering any unexpected costs. If you’re already struggling with an existing overdraft, then you can take a look here for help.
When deciding on a student bank account, it’s important that you weigh up the perks and overdraft amounts carefully. Although the overdraft may not come at any extra cost whilst you’re at university, the fee-free aspect does not last forever. Make sure to read all terms and conditions carefully before choosing which provider you’d like to open an account with.
Budget, budget, budget 🤓
Once you know how much you will be spending on essentials such as rent and bills, creating a student budget will help you keep on top of your incomings and outgoings.
Despite not being the most exciting task, budgeting will give you an indication of how much you can afford to spend per day, week or month, without having to dip into the money you would normally use to cover your basics.
A simple trick for creating a budget that won’t make you stretch your maths skills too far, is to first write down how much money you have coming into your account, this could be student loan installments or money from your parents.
From this, subtract all of your essential costs e.g. rent, bills and transport costs. Divide whatever you’re left with by four (the number of weeks in a month) and… ta dah, the amount of money you can safely spend per week.
If this still seems like rocket science, you could simply watch a youtube video walking you through the art of budgeting 🤓 Our personal favourite is MamaFurFur’s Budgeting for Beginners.
Plan those meals 🍲
There is a common theme here, to plan, plan, plan. Your meals are not exempt!
Before you even attempt to hit the supermarkets, draw up what you plan to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner that week. Once you know what you’ll be cooking, you can make a shopping list of what you need to buy.
Planning in this order tells you exactly what to buy and why. This way you can save money avoiding the classic mistake of buying more pasta when you already have two bags at home.
Never shop when you’re hungry 🥴
You have most likely come across this nugget of wisdom before. Going grocery shopping when you’re hungry is a sure fire way to spend more than you need to.
Being hungry and in a supermarket will make you more inclined to buy food that you don’t necessarily need to satisfy those hunger pangs. Going food shopping after dinner for example, will help you stick to your shopping list inspired by your meal plan.
Food shopping after dinner is not only useful for avoiding an overspend but also for saving pennies with reduced food. Food baked that day or that hits its ‘best before’ date the following day are usually heavily reduced in the evenings so that supermarkets do not have to throw them away.
Consider a holiday job 🏖
University is a time intensive commitment that should always be taken seriously. But if you find you have spare time in your Christmas, Easter or summer holidays, getting a part time job would be useful for gaining both valuable work experience and earning some extra money to boost your savings.
Once your budget is set and your meals are prepped, the following tips and tricks will help you save money on everyday items.
Always look out for student discounts 🔎
Receiving discounted items because you’re a student may seem too good to be true, but it’s not!
Many companies, such as Apple, ASOS and food stores, offer student discounts, usually in the form of a percentage taken off your total spend amount. This can help you save money on your toiletries and your meal plans too. Smaller highstreet companies, such as gyms and hair salons may also offer discounts on gym memberships and haircuts. It is always worth making sure that your Student ID is to hand and that you ask if a company offers such discounts before completing your purchase.
Student discounts are not restricted to shops but can also be applied to experiences too. Restaurants, takeaway places, cinemas and attractions often offer a student discount or a student price. Apple Music and Spotify also give students the opportunity to save on their music services.
Having a TOTUM card (formerly an NUS card) or using websites such as Unidays or Studentbeans will give you a better overview of which companies are offering student discounts and what exclusive deals they are offering at any one time. These discounts can also be used outside of the academic year, giving you access to discounts all year round. Who said saving money has to be boring?
Out with the new and in with the old 📚
Long reading lists and expensive books are part of the package of student life. Although you can’t control the length of your reading lists, you can drastically lower your costs by buying second hand books.
At the end of the year, there will always be students graduating and looking for a way to pass their books on. University forums may help you contact them to buy their books that they will certainly be happy to be rid of. Amazon and Ebay also have a wide selection of second hand books to buy.
Switching to second hand buying does not only apply to books. Looking into second hand homeware and asking relatives for any freebies they don’t use, can help you save money when decorating your student accommodation.
Save the planet and your wallet at the same time. 🌱
Save on transport 🚅
Despite costing £30 a year, buying a 16-25 railcard is a straightforward way to save on train tickets.
Using a railcard, you save ⅓ off train travel within Great Britain and if you live in London, it can be added to your oyster to give you a ⅓ off TFL prices too!
Using cashback is another no brainer for saving money on everyday spends. It’s worth checking if your bank account has cashback partners that you can shop at.
Doing so will give you a percentage of your total spend back, helping you save some more of your precious student money. Our Plum subscribers can also earn rewards when they shop with one of our partner merchants through the Plum app.
Create a dedicated savings space 💰
Now that you have a list of tips and tricks for becoming savvy savers, you need to create a place where you can collect them. There isn’t a one size fits all approach, some savers like to use piggy banks, savings accounts or even apps like Plum.
Plum’s smart algorithm tucks money away little-but-often 💸 It adapts to your spending, calculating how much you can afford to set aside at any time by using an algorithm that automates your savings 🤖
Small amounts of money are tucked away every few days, without you needing to think about it. And because the amount is tailored to you, you’re never left short for what you need 🤝
Get Plum 📲
If you'd like to learn more about Plum then you can check out our website.
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