As a student you spend about 40% of your time worrying about uni work, 35% pondering Netflix possibilities, and the last 25% trying to make your money stretch further than it possibly can.
Student life is known to be a poor life, it’s what’s expected. My grandad asks me every time I see him if I’m okay on the money front – I don’t think he believes I’m actually a pretty good saver. So I’m here to share what little wisdom I’ve gained over the past few years! I’m quite proud of the savings I’ve got, and I want more people to feel like this and be more money savvy rather than worrying where every penny goes.
A few tips to consider – apply them to your own life and surrounding – everyone can save in different ways. Let the tips inspire your own money saving techniques. And share them with me! I’m all for more ways to save.
1. Learn to budget.
At the start of each academic year I work out how much student finance I can afford each month (after taking out rent and bills). After that I work out the minimal I can spend from that initial amount and stick to that every week – with my student finance I give myself about £40 a week for food and travel, with a little extra for the occasional take away treat or clothing purchase. That way I know I’ve enough for impulse buys, and any I don’t spend gets rolled onto the following week so I don’t need to take out as much money that week.
It all adds up over the year! Those few pounds easily mount up.
2. Buy in the reduced section.
Sales aren’t only for shoes and clothes!
Nip to your local Tesco/Asda/wherever between 5pm and 7pm for the best reduced food. They have a reduced section all the time, but I’ve noticed that at about 5 o’clock they load the shelves with reduced food. And between these times they slash the price a LOT more than earlier on in the day. The later the cheaper! Just expect all the good stuff to be gone by then. I usually buy my meat from here so that I can freeze it straight away to use whenever I remember to defrost it.
3. Freeze excess food.
I see so many people just throw away leftover food if they’ve cooked too much. I don’t know how they do it, it makes all my insides feels like they’re turning trying to eat themselves.
Just pop it in a lunchbox! Perfect for lunch the next day, or freeze to eat another time. I’m not ashamed to say I ate pasta bake three days in a row for lunch and dinner. Though I probably should be. But hey, I ate for three days on about £2, so there’s that. Use leftovers to make entirely new meals as well, student life is the perfect time to create weird new creations that can become family favs!
4. Open a savings account.
I’ve had my savings account basically from when I was born – thank you Dad for the budgeting skills you’ve passed down, you are a lifesaver!
So when I turned 16 it got handed over to me with a few hundred pound in it. Since then I’ve added money to it whenever I got money at birthdays, and put £50 a month away into it to make sure it keeps adding up over the years. How else will I afford a masters?! Setting away £50 or so – whatever you can manage – every month will make you feel SO proud with yourself.
Like you’re the most adulting adult around with their life going in the right direction. Rather than wandering around like a headless chicken wondering why you bought that dress last year that still has tags on instead of just putting the money away.
5. Sell unwanted clothes.
Having loads of clothes with tags on… I can’t be the only one who has done this. I’m FINALLY getting around to wearing some of my clothes now summer is back because I bought them as summer was ending last year because I’m super clever like that.
How many of those do you really need? Going through your wardrobe every 6 months or so makes a world of difference! I went through mine when I was moving out of my last flat and wondering why I even had most of it, I knew I’d never be wearing it again. Such a hoarder. Oh well.
Get yourself down to Ebay or your local car boot sale, you might find yourself some bargains too!
6. Try different brands.
It’s so easy to find a good brand that you know and love and not bother giving anything else a go because it might not work as well. This goes for clothes, beauty, makeup, food, everything. Try Primark, it’s a wonderland in there. Try shops own brand stuff – Tesco jam is where it’s at. Even things like floss, of all things, I love my cheapy cheap Superdrug floss. Cheaper doesn’t have to mean worse.
You could find a brand new holy grail shampoo that will change your hair forever.
7. Research the best deal.
Whenever I buy something online I always have a quick google search for any voucher/promo codes that are on the go. See if you can use your student card anywhere, you’d be surprised where you can use it that doesn’t advertise it! The worst they can do is say no. Buy a railcard if you’re using them a lot to see family – I made up the price of mine with the first journey. Use the deals at supermarkets; clubcards, nectar card etc etc. Your little weekly shops add up to some pretty sweet deals on things for summer activities like the cinema, city attractions, theme-parks.
The list goes on and on. Google is your friend.
8. Book in advance.
Event tickets, train tickets, bus tickets, holiday tickets.
This goes hand in hand with the researching. More often than not booking things in advance works out way cheaper, long gone are the days that I book train tickets on the same day! The price difference is ridiculous. Any local events you’re interested in often have early-bird tickets. Weekly/monthly bus tickets works out a lot cheaper than buying them daily if you’re using it often enough. And attractions/tours/events at your holiday destination offer cheaper tickets online rather than in person (lots of European museums etc. allow under 25s in for free!).
9. Exercise at home.
Hands up if you have a gym membership that is sorely neglected.
Go for runs in the local park, use fitness videos on YouTube, dust off your bicycle. There are so many ways we can exercise for free if we put our minds to it. It does exactly the same job as the gym and you keep extra pennies in your pocket as well. I know a lot of people buy the membership as motivation to keep going, but once you’re in the routine it shouldn’t be too difficult to simply change location.
(And if you’re stuck for motivation, and your bed is calling to you, read ThisGirlCan‘s Twitter page. It’s great at making me feel super lazy and encourages me to get up and do something about it).
10. Walk more.
I know I’m guilty of whipping out my bus pass for a five minute walk just because I can. And it’s super easy to simply nip in the car to Tesco which is actually just a 10 minute walk away.
By taking the time to walk those short walks you can end up saving a lot of money. Petrol money from those short drives, bus ticket fares to go into town just because you’re craving a chippy. Far too often. A little walk here and there adds up the the pound coins in your piggy bank.
Do you have any helpful tips or advice I could use?