Learning to save money may not come too easily to many students. With tuition fees at an all-time high and the cost of living ever-increasing, young adults must rapidly learn how to balance bills, accommodation, education and leisure, all through three annual lump sums if reliant on student loans alone.
Here are five of my best tips to save you a few pounds when it matters based entirely on my own experiences. By following them, you’ll be able to enjoy all of the perks of a student lifestyle without the usual money concerns.
Arguably the most important purchase for any student heading to University further away from home, a 16-25 year old railcard will save you a third off the cost of any train travel in the UK. This is perfect for those of you who don’t want your parents to forget you and are keen to travel home as often as possible. Railcards cost £30 a year or £70 for 3 years, which is a real bargain considering the amount of money this will save you. The more you travel , the better value this railcard will be to you, and if you have an NUS Extra card, you can get an extra 11% off the cost of the railcard.
Far overshadowing the first I received for my first year at uni was a greater achievement: the discovery of Flubit.com. The amount of money I saved due to this site was immense. Forget Amazon and Ebay; you simply cannot beat Flubit in terms of buying any new product online. All you have to do is copy the URL of any product you find on the web, paste it into their homepage, and they will offer you the product at a lower price almost without fail. There is often a 10-15% discount on the price you find elsewhere, which means there’s little need to scour the web for hours hunting for a book/DVD/game/laptop that’s a measly £0.50 less.
Student Discount Card
This is probably the most obvious tip that is bandied around, but shockingly, the one that is ignored or forgotten more often than not. Many stores – both on the high street and online, offer savings ranging from 5% to 20% just for students. Some may require an NUS Extra purchase, but many will simply accept your student card. This is definitely the case at Topshop and Urban Outfitters to mention just a couple. Also, don’t forget to show your student card while ordering a meal at Mcdonalds, where they’ll offer you a variety of free food products such as an extra hamburger, Mcflurry or portion of fries. Being a student certainly comes with its perks!
Cheap Mobile Contract
Why some students continue with iPhone contracts costing up to £40 a month and stuck in 24-month contracts is not only bizarre, but quite frankly stupid. Do people not realise that by doing so, they could be spending almost £1000 over the course of two years – and that’s excluding the additional cost of the phone itself that so many providers slap on top! By choosing an alternative to the iPhone, such the Nokia Lumia 520 available through Carphone Warehouse at a mere £7.50 a month, you could spend just £180 over two years. Similar smartphones are available for the same price. If you’re set on an iPhone, consider picking up a second hand or unlocked version (buying it for less on Flubit.com might help here!) and grab a great value sim-only contract such as those provided by giffgaff.
A student bank account with a 0% interest overdraft
Listen up. This may not sound as interesting as the likes of some of the other short-term money saving strategies. Rather than relying on a maintenance loan entirely, consider using an interest-free overdraft, often up to £3,000, to cover any extra costs you might incur at University. Unlike your maintenance loan that you will be charged around 6% on every year, this similar system allows you access to up to £3000 with no interest charge whatsoever – you will start paying back once you have graduated. Choose your bank wisely: ensure you’re guaranteed that there are absolutely no costs for using your overdraft, and be clear about when you’ll be liable for interest. If you choose a Santander student account, you may even be able to pick up a free railcard, leading to savings all around!
Author: Alex Watson is a student who has completed his first year and is studying at the University of Sheffield. He is currently working for Crowdbait – a content marketing agency.