There’s no doubt about it that saving money as a student is hard.
With newfound freedom coming at a cost, with rent to pay, having to do your own food shops and endless nights out… it’s not surprising if you find yourself too scared to check your bank balance.
Financial difficulties can cause extreme anxiety and worry, and affect your mental health and your ability to focus on your studies.
So, to help out any students looking to save a few extra pounds and cut costs of their weekly and monthly expenditures, we’ve put together our top money-saving tips for students!
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Why is saving money important for students?
Starting a new life and making new friends, you’ll want to be going out and socialising which means one thing… spending money.
That’s why making the most of your money should be a priority as a student.
You’re entering into an expensive education system where you’ll be required to spend a lot of time writing assignments and revising for exams and so it is unlikely you’ll be able to work full-time alongside your studies.
Even if you do get a part-time job as well as a student loan, it’s likely you’ll have moved away from home and have been paying your own bills and expenses so you might find you’re short on money.
Unless you’re lucky enough to have the bank of Mum and Dad to fall back on that is…
In this article, we’re looking at how students save money, and we’ve compiled our tips and advice to help you save on your living expenses as a student.
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What are the benefits of saving money at university?
- Gives financial security for any of life’s uncertainties
- Increases feelings of security and peace of mind
- Enables you to go on holiday or treat yourself
- Provides financial freedom and independence from family members or friends
- Prevents mental health issues
- Limits debt and avoids paying interest
- Start building up a good credit score ready for buying a house
- Helps to finance further education
Now we’ve covered some of the reasons to save money at university, read on for effective ways to save money for students.
List of ways to save money on a tight budget
There are many different ways to save money, which we talk about in more detail later on, but here’s a summarising list of the best way to save money fast:
- Find a part-time job
- Start your own small business
- Track where you’re spending your money
- Set budgets for your money
- Shop in the reduced section at the supermarket
- Sign up for a student discount card
- Avoid taxis, instead, walk or cycle
- Buy second hand
- Sell your old clothes and other unused items
- Shop around and compare companies
- Keep a spare change pot
- Plan low-cost or free days out
- Make a meal plan and bulk cook
- Outdoor exercise or home workouts instead of joining a gym
- Suggest to friends a limit on presents spend
- Get a smart meter to save on energy bills
- Use price comparison websites
- Enter competitions to win cash (be careful to avoid scams!)
How to save money tips for students
1. Find a part-time job whilst at university – (in-person or online!)
Undertaking a part-time job at university is a great way to earn extra money, gain invaluable skills, and expand your experiences of life both within and outside the world of academia.
Contacting your university careers centre, visiting your local jobs centre and reaching out to your LinkedIn connections are all great ways to find part-time jobs.
Visit our student blog for more useful ways to find and manage part-time jobs at university.
Due to the current pandemic, part-time jobs may be more in demand and difficult to secure, however there are in fact many great ways to earn money as a student online.
Online tutoring, teaching English as a foreign language and becoming a virtual assistant are all great ways to earn a bit of extra money without having to leave your bedroom.
There are some great tutoring opportunities online – sites like Tutor Hunt are particularly useful, and you can advertise on notice boards at colleges, schools, and universities.
Somebody out there could probably use your expertise.
Visit our blog for more of the best ways to earn money online as a student.
2. Budget your money and know where it’s going
When thinking about how to save money each month, one of the best money-saving tips we can give you is to record your weekly and monthly spending.
Log in a spreadsheet all your outgoings for a week and month, and highlight any areas where large amounts of your money are going.
Then make new, smaller monthly budgets for each of your outgoing categories, food, shopping, travel, nights out etc, making sure that these are realistic whilst still able to help you save.
It may take a bit of self-restraint, but having a budget for each of your outgoing categories is a great way to limit your spending and control where your money is going.
These could be a huge help in terms of keeping your finances in check.
Also check the App store for tech tools that integrate with your online banking.
Another top money-saving tip is to have at least one ‘no spend’ day each week.
This may take some forward planning, but having a day where you are consciously aware that you won’t be spending any money is a great way to get yourself into the habit of not needing to spend and helping you save those pennies!
Other advice we’d give on how to save money for students specifically, is get out of your overdraft and stay out.
The interest-free overdraft is a classic ‘hook’: it comes in all shapes and sizes, with a variety of delightful repayment plans that kick in after you graduate.
If you’re going on nights out and ordering takeaways when you, technically, have no money, you could be paying for it well into your late 20s.
What are some budgeting tips for students?
- Use a budgeting app or Excel spreadsheet
- Get out of your overdraft and stay out
- Every month is different, you may need to budget more some months
- Have at least one ‘no spend’ day each week
- Include a miscellaneous budget category
- Set yourself some achievable goals
- Get out of your overdraft and stay out!
- Avoid using credit cards
- Don’t be too hard on yourself!
Knowing your are actively working to reduce your spending and save money can help relieve some of the financial pressures of university and protect your mental health.
For more ways to look after your mental health at university, check out our recent blog.
3. Get smart saving money with food shopping
Having left the comfort of home and being cooked for, a large outgoing for many students at university is on food and drink.
However, there are many food shop hacks that can help you save a lot off your weekly shop!
Here is our advice on how to save money on groceries…
One of the most obvious money-saving tips for food shopping is to shop at a low-cost supermarket such as Aldi or Lidl.
These supermarkets are renowned for their cheap prices and dupe versions for own brand products at a fraction of the price.
If you have one of these shops near your university campus or accommodation be sure to shop there in the evening.
After around 6pm, most supermarkets start heavily reducing prices on items they need to shift before the end of the day – meaning you can pick up items for pennies!
Just be sure to plan ahead and use these items up before the next couple days (or freeze them) as they will have a short sell by date.
For further ways to save money each month and cut costs of your weekly shop, buy your toiletries and other essentials at shops like Home Bargains and B&M, these shops will often have your branded products at a cheaper price and you can often buy things in bulk.
Cooking at home is a healthy, cost-effective and enjoyable way to save money at university.
Plan your meals for the week, write a list of all your ingredients and bring this with you when you shop, this will ensure you stick to what you only need and that no food is wasted.
Bulk make meals and take leftovers into university for lunch – and avoid those hefty on-campus café prices!
Cooking with friends or flatmates means you can share the cost of ingredients, and even take it in turns to prepare dinner.
How to save money on food?
- Shop supermarket basics
- Buy in bulk
- Shop in the reduced section
- Make a packed lunch
- Meal prep every week
- Grow your own fruit & veg
- Cook in bulk
- Reduce your meat consumption
- Look for discounts & offers
- Choose cheaper brands
- Set a weekly budget
- Bulk out meals with low cost veg
- Negociate at food markets
- Freeze food before it goes off
- Never pay for plastic bags, bring your own
- Don’t obsess over sell by dates
- Instead of takeaways, make your own fake-aways!
- Share cost of ingredients by cooking with friends
4. Enter student competitions to win money
As well as money saving tips and tricks, why not try to earn some winnings through entering competitions?
Visit our student competitions to win cash prizes, vouchers & more.
5. Make use of your student discount & other discount codes
One of the benefits of being a student is the vast array of discounts out there!
From travel to food and clothes, there are many ways to save an extra bit of money!
The National Union of Student is well known for providing invaluable student money-saving tips, and expert advice on many types of student issues.
Moreover, buying an NUS card enables students to get discounts on various commodities such as foods, health & beauty products, technological devices, clothing & accessories, educational resources, entertainment and much more.
UniDays card is another great way to receive student discounts on big-name retailers like Apple, Asos, Levi’s and more!
Martin Lewis is renowned for his top money-saving tips, and he has usefully put together a regularly updated list of all the current student discounts and deals! Be sure to visit his website, ‘moneysavingexpert’, for more of Martin’s money-saving tips!
6. Reduce the costs of your commute
If a large proportion of your monthly spend is on travel, think about some of the ways you can reduce this.
For instance, if you study in London and you frequently get the tube, see if you could replace this by cycling or getting the bus.
In London, you can get as many journeys within an hour for £1.50!
Or, if you commute to university by train make sure to buy a 16-25 railcard and buy a yearly or monthly travel card which can heavily reduce the cost of train fares.
7. Save money on your electricity bills
How to save money on electricity and gas?
When thinking about how to save money on electric bills, it’s important to think about how to reduce your electricity usage.
Top ways how to save money on electricity bills:
- Use a smart meter to keep track of your spending and energy use
- Purchase energy-saving light bulbs
- Don’t overfill the kettle – pour into your mug first for accurate measurements
- Wash your clothes at 30°C – saves 40% energy than washing at higher temperatures (Energy Saving Trust)
- Switch lights and plug sockets off at the wall
- If you have an electric shower or boiler, shorter showers will cut your spend.
- You’ll save money by ensuring your appliances are energy efficient
- Keep your fridge temperature between 3˚and 5˚celsius and your freezer at 18˚
- Let hot food cool down before putting in the fridge
- Using a microwave instead of the stove or oven is quicker, more energy efficient and thus cheaper
8. Boost your income by selling unused items
Have a clearout and sell your clutter, especially clothes you haven’t worn in a while, old electronics and the rest!
With your old clothes and other items, try selling them on second-hand apps for some extra cash.
It’s also a good idea to sell your old course books too. If you can bear to part with that signed limited edition textbook, dust it off and list it online.
Amazon, Webuybooks, AbeBooks and eBay tend to be the standard choices, but there are several other great websites where students and ex-students can pass on their used textbooks to new owners – for cash.
9. Buy second-hand course books
An easy way to rack up costs at university is to spend a lot buying course textbooks and books – especially if you study English or Law!
Many graduates will be looking to sell their old course textbooks cheap to make a bit of extra money and get rid of books they no longer need.
Be sure to check out any Facebook student groups, including ones specific to your university course and post in the group asking if anyone has the second-hand textbooks you need.
Join our Facebook community, ‘Go Graduate Network’ to keep up-to-date with all our job-hunting services, and meet other students and graduates!
10. Buy second-hand clothes & homeware
Need a new outfit for a night out? Hit up the charity shops and bag yourself a bargain!
Or download vintage clothing apps like Depop and Vinted to find yourself some new clobber cheap.
For second-hand homeware, check out Facebook Marketplace, Ebay or Freecycle.
Not only will you save your pennies this way, but it is also much better for the planet too.
11. Shop around and use money-saving advice websites
The best advice you’ll ever receive is to never settle for what you’ve already got.
Always compare energy companies: their pricing structures change constantly, and you can snag a really great deal if you’re clever about it.
The same goes for phones, car insurance (if applicable), and even bread – maybe the store-brand is a mite cheaper than that fancy stuff with pumpkin seeds in it.
If you’re wondering how to save money on car insurance, your best bet is to check out price comparison websites.
They’ll help you determine the areas where you can save the most money.
For example, MarketWatch makes buying car insurance online easy thanks to its comparison tool. Before these sites, drivers had to call insurance providers directly to get a quote, which was a long and tedious process.
List of money-saving tips websites
University is expensive, there’s no denying it, but there are a few money-saving tips for young adults that will help you save some cash along the way.
Implement our top money-saving tips for students and start saving your pennies!