Budget re-Fresher: 6 essential money tips for new students
Now that we’re well into September, new university and college students up and down the UK will be getting used to student life.
One of the biggest shocks is often how much life on campus can cost, which is why we’ve put together 6 savings tips for brand new students looking to maximise their budget.
Six money tips for new college and university students
1. Take advantage of your student Discount
As most students will know, one of the quickest and easiest ways to save money is by getting a student discount wherever possible.
While the discount is never as obvious as in freshers’ week (when it seems every store, everywhere is keen to attract new students as customers), it’s worth the money to do some research on which outlets offer year-round student discounts.
Student Discounts are available for everything from travel and entertainment, to food, clothes, and more. You can check out our Student Discount Directory on the Save the Student website to find some great offers.
It’s also worth signing up with organisations like Totum, the only student discount and offers platform that’s approved by the National Union for Students (NUS).
2. Think about where you live
For many students (especially first years) the lure of living on campus might be too much to resist. However, while staying on campus is convenient, it can cost a lot more than commuting from a little further out.
Student flats are often notoriously expensive, so if you can find somewhere cheaper to live then it’s definitely worth doing your research before making any decisions about where to put down roots. Many people choose to move to cheaper areas in the city after First Year, when they’re more settled.
If you’re looking for a student flat, forums can be a good place to start. One of the most popular UK student forums, The Student Room, has an entire subsite dedicated to student accommodation; a place where you can discuss your digs, get suggestions for the best places to live in and around campus, and even find yourself a roommate.
And if you are looking to find a roommate specifically, check out Spareroom, a safe and secure site where people post ads looking for rooms, roommates, and buddy-ups in student towns across the UK.
3. Budget for food
Many students find themselves eating out a lot more than they did before uni, whether that’s thanks to all those late nights spent cramming or socialising, or the struggle to get to grips with the culinary world once they leave their parents’ place.
The problem with eating out is that it can seriously damage your budget. The average price of a restaurant dinner for one in London (rated the best student city in the UK) is almost £60. That’s an increase of over 6% on last year.
Rather than regularly spending money on takeaways and restaurant meals, consider buying most of your food from the supermarket instead, and saving eating out as a once-a-week or once-a-month treat.
Not only is buying from the supermarket and making your own meals cheaper, it’s also healthier too. Try looking out for Student Discount offers at supermarkets (the Tesco Student Shopper card might be a good place to start).
4. Be careful with online shopping
When you’re not studying or at lectures there will be plenty of time for leisure activities – including retail therapy. It’s easy to fall into the trap of impulse buying when you have some spare time, especially as online shopping is so accessible. If you can, try to avoid spending too much money on shopping.
In particular, you should try your best to avoid Buy Now, Pay Later services. College and university students are among the most likely people to take advantage of schemes that allow them to buy clothes and other items on credit, and pay for these goods over time.
While Buy Now, Pay Later might sound like a useful service that allows you to make purchases more flexibly, companies like Klarna and Clearpay charge severe late fees if you don’t keep on top of your payments.
Buy Now, Pay Later can also lead to serious money issues – among Creditfix customers, 50% said that using Buy Now, Pay Later encouraged them to make purchases they wouldn’t otherwise make.
5. Look out for grants, bursaries, and loans
Many students don’t realise that student finance is not just student loans – there are grants, bursaries, and work-study schemes available too.
Make sure you check out the UK Government website to see what’s on offer – it can make all the difference in terms of helping your money go further during your course.
In addition to student finance schemes that provide money directly from the Government, there are also plenty of private grants available too, from Rhodes Scholarships to the Carnegie Trust.
These tend to reward academic excellence, so if you’re working towards a degree, it might be worth looking into whether your university or college offers any and, if they do, what criteria you have to meet in order to be considered.
While Student Finance can seem like a godsend, it won’t cover all the costs associated with university or college, unless you’re really fortunate. That’s why some students find themselves in the position where they may have to meet a little bit of extra cash.
6. Consider getting yourself a student job
If you’re struggling to make Student Finance stretch, or are concerned about how much time it will take away from your studies, consider getting yourself a student job.
There’s plenty of work on offer for students in the UK – whether that’s working part-time at your university or college during term-time, or looking for a job over the summer months when your course isn’t in session.
Not only is getting a student job an obvious money maker (you can earn money on top of student loans or other student finance arrangements you’re involved in), it’s a good way to meet new people and have fun, all while getting some extra cash.
It’s worth remembering, however, that student jobs can be competitive, especially if they’re linked to the industry your degree is related to.
You don’t want to end up working really long hours at an unfulfilling job, and finding you have less time to study, socialise, and have the university experience that attracted you to higher education in the first place. Before you apply, it’s worth considering how your student job will fit around the rest of your life.