Talking Points

A female student holding textbooks & a piggy bank

8 smart ways for students to save money

I think we can all agree that being a student in the UK is expensive these days.

The tuition fees alone are astronomical, and then there are living costs on top of that such as rent, bills, food, and so on.

Additionally, you’ll want to have a good time while you’re studying at university, so you’ll want money to spend on nights out and all that fun stuff, too.

With all the above to take into consideration, you might wonder how any young person can ever afford to go to uni!

Well, there are some costs you can’t avoid when you’re a student, but we have loads of tips on how to pay less for everything else in the eight sections below.

Learn to budget

The chances are, you’ve not had a vast amount of experience in budgeting your money yet.

However, it is crucial that you do so now a student loan is being paid into your account regularly.

On the day it gets paid in, it is essential that you put a chunk of it aside (in another account, if need be) to cover all of your future outgoings — rent, bills, food budget, etc. This is a must.

Once you’ve removed all the money that is essentially already spent, you can divvy up the rest into monthly allowances for yourself.

Don’t forget to leave a little extra for emergencies, too.

We’re not saying don’t treat yourself. We’re just saying be sensible, make a plan, and then treat yourself within your monthly budget!

Consider your accommodation

A male student arriving at his student accommodation and meeting his housemates
Always choose a reputable student landlord

Most students choose to leave home and move into university halls of residence or a student house share when they start university.

While this is often seen as the only way to fully immerse yourself into student life, it’s important to remember that this isn’t your only option.

You could commute from home for your first year (if that’s a viable option) and give yourself more time to adjust to your new-found independence, which would save you plenty of money on rent and bills.

Alternatively, if you are determined to go it alone from day one, opt to rent from a reliable student landlord or letting agent.

Don’t automatically choose the cheapest landlord, as they could end up costing you more in the long run.

Instead, choose quality and reliability, safe in the knowledge that if something goes wrong regarding your accommodation, your landlord will act fairly.

Find the best student bank account

Each year, banks battle to attract students to their accounts with a dazzling array of attractive perks.

While it may be tempting, resist jumping straight in with the first one you see.

It may not be fun, but it’s essential to shop around for your student bank account and secure yourself the best possible deal.

When it comes to student banking, the most important feature a bank can offer you is a 0% interest overdraft. Always check how long the overdraft will last before interest is added though.

Your overdraft will have your back for those tighter times of the month (or year!) but make sure you don’t live in it as you will need to pay it back at some point.

Some student accounts come with gift vouchers or cashback, too.

Claim those student discounts

You won’t appreciate this fully until you’re no longer a student but, there are so many discounts available to you when you’re at university, it’s easy to save a fortune on most things.

Firstly, you need to bag yourself a TOTUM card. It costs £14.99 for 12 months but gives you access to significant discounts at hundreds of your favourite retailers, including Topshop, ASOS and Boots.

Secondly, ask about discounts everywhere you go — you’ll be surprised by how many places can offer you a cheaper price or rate, sometimes just with the production of your student ID card.

Don’t buy your entire reading list

Female student holding textbooks
Save money by only buying the essential student textbooks

Especially in your first year, when you’re full of enthusiasm, it can be tempting to dash out and buy a copy of every textbook mentioned on your course’s reading list. Don’t do it!

Wait until your course starts and your lecturers and tutors will give you an idea of which books are the most important.

Instead of buying them new, find them second-hand from older students or online, and you’ll save a fortune.

For the less crucial textbooks, head to the uni library — there will be loads of copies of each.

Get a part-time job

If your course schedule leaves you with enough time for it, getting a part-time job would be highly beneficial for earning some extra dollar. It would also look great on your CV.

Need some inspiration for student employment? Check out the part-time job ideas here and here.

If you want some extra income over the festive period, there are always plenty of Christmas retail jobs available that involve mostly weekend and evening work.

Make the most of pre-drinks

Instead of seeing ‘pre-drinks’ as a necessary but dull part of your evening, make the most of the situation and have some fun.

Play a few games with your mates and get into the party spirit before you head off into town. Depending on your group’s vibe, you might opt for drinking games, a card or board game, or a competitive session on a console.

Staying in for just an hour longer than you usually would, could save you loads of money on drinks, as even the student bars are pricey when it comes to booze.

Pay less for food

A female student cooking for her housemates
Cooking with housemates can help you to save money

Food can be expensive — especially if you have a to eat a particular diet, such as lactose-free. However, there are a few easy ways to reduce the amount of money you spend on food each week.

Firstly, choose to eat at home more often instead of dining out. Just a pizza and drink can end up costing you £20 in a restaurant, whereas the same at home might cost only £5.

You can make meals in your house share even cheaper by cooking and eating together. Make an event of it and plan to eat together at least once per week, with different housemates cooking and washing up each time.

Not only will you save money, but you’ll also strengthen the bond with your housemates, too. Unless someone doesn’t do the washing up as planned, that is!

Another simple way to save money on food is to only go food shopping when you’re not hungry. Otherwise, you may be tempted to buy things you’d usually be able to resist.

Finally, it can be worth travelling a little further to do your food shopping. Your local corner shop may be convenient, but I guarantee the prices will be higher than the big supermarket down the road, or your local market.

Don’t forget your reusable bags, too!

If you’re studying in Leeds, you can browse our wide selection of top Leeds student accommodation at any time of day or night.

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