If we’re not hitch-hiking our way home at the end of each semester, we are at least looking for the next cheapest alternative. As soon as our student loans kick in it is so easy to forget our student status and ‘live like a king or queen’ for a week or two without realising that after this our finances will be drained. Remember that nice, slap-up meal you had out four times last week? Well, it doesn’t quite compare to living off home brand super noodles and tinned tomatoes for the rest of the semester, does it? Here are a few tips on how to save money, pain-free in order to stretch those pennies and make those pounds go a little further.
This sounds boring but it is so important to do. Work out from your loan, wages and allowance from your parents (if you’re lucky enough to get the latter!) how much money you can spend per week without making yourself bankrupt. Once you’ve done this, be organised with it. Limit yourself on how much you can spend on food, going out and other types of activities throughout the week and try and make a mental note every time you spend money in order to keep on top. You always have your overdraft for emergencies, but try and use it on only those situations that really need it. If you’re under your budget at the end of the week, treat yourself to a takeaway!
Draw money out
This may sound like an odd one but it can work wonders in the grand scheme of things. Something I know I’m guilty of is succumbing to buying things on my card for the sake of convenience and then losing track of it; before you know it that bottle of pop you got at the co-op and the new pack of pens from the supermarket along with other things I’m sure, will add up and you’ll have no idea how much you’ve spent. If your budget works out at £10 per day, draw £10 out at a cash machine at the beginning of the day – that way you’ll know exactly how much you’ve spent and how much you have left.
Buy travel cards
Travel cards are godsend and will save you a LOT of money before no time. Railcards give you 1/3 off of all rail travel across the UK, and the average annual saving is an impressive £161. That’s half of your summer holiday paid for! Even though they initially cost £28, it is well worth the price you pay and some banks even give you one for free if you open a student account with them. There are plenty of types of railcards to choose from too – you could get a 16-25 railcard for yourself, or perhaps, split the initial price with a friend and get a ‘family & friends’ railcard that allows two named adults to be the cardholders. I’ve had a railcard since the age of 16 and have probably saved hundreds of pounds with it.
Always ask for discounts
One of the perks of being a student is being eligible for student discounts. Whether you have an NUS Extra Card or just your University student card, showing them to the cashier at the till usually earns us a handy 10% off of our purchase. The bigger shops will publicise this but often smaller independent shops and restaurants will offer students some sort of discounts but won’t actually publicise it, so it’s worth asking. Even if a student discount isn’t on offer you could always try and haggle your way to a cheaper price. There are also handy discount websites that will keep you in-the-know with the latest discounts, so check those too.
Don’t buy contents insurance
One of the big worries we have about living in student houses is whether our possessions will be safe once we leave our houses. We’ve all heard the horror stories and some of my friends have even been burgled, but don’t rush to buy contents insurance. Nine times out of ten your belongings will be covered, or if not inexpensively extended, on the ‘contents away from home’ section of your parent’s home insurance – obviously you will need to check this, but you could save yourself quite a hefty sum of money by double checking!
These are just some money saving tips that will help make your money go further. If we’ve missed any, make sure you comment as we’d like to know as many hints and tricks that will make our money go further.