Living on a student budget can be hard, but there’s no need to spend the next 3-4 years living on cold baked beans. The temptation to spend money is everywhere, but if you want your cash to last until the end of term, have a look at our top money saving tips.
Manage your money
Draw up a Budget
Living on a student income can be a struggle. Make sure you match up the money you have coming in with the money that is going out by working out a weekly budget. Try to accurately work out your income from your loan, any grants or part-time work and aim to never spend more than this. Most students receive part of their loan quarterly, so make sure to budget well in advance so that it will last you the full three months.
We can send you a free Spending Diary or alternatively there are great free apps you can get for your phone to help you budget. Click HERE for our online budget planner!
Check for a Tax Refund
Working students are taxed through the ‘Pay as You Earn Scheme’ (PAYE) directly. If you earn less than £10,000 in the 2014-15 tax year you shouldn’t pay any tax. If reclaiming, watch out for non-official HMRC websites that charge you to apply for refunds.
Always make sure you’re on www.hmrc.gov.uk
Home Contents Insurance
If you're renting you need home contents insurance. Don’t risk losing your precious items! Shop around as there can be big differences in the costs you are quoted. Don’t always assume that policies specifically for students will be the cheapest option.
Click HERE for our insurance guide for those who rent!
If you’re in rented accommodation, make sure you have a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector and check that the battery is working at least once a week.
Be a savvy shopper
Downshift your Brands
If you normally buy premium brands try shifting down to a ‘regular’ brand, supermarket’s own brand or even an economy range. You may not notice the difference in taste, but may notice the difference in your wallet!
Ask everywhere from cinema, restaurants and online. You may be surprised at how many student discounts you are entitled to! A lot of shops offer 10 - 20 per cent all year with special events in shopping centres offering exclusive discounts.
Love your Leftovers
Households throw away an average of £470 a year. Eating anything past the ‘use-by’ date can be risky, so don’t take the chance - bin it. You can often eat food on/after the ‘best before’ date; trust your instinct and use taste and sight to decide but if in doubt - throw it out! Click HERE for tips on using up leftovers!
There are bargains to be found in discount shops! Things like shampoo, cleaning products and tinned food can be found at cut-rate prices, so don’t just rely on the large supermarkets. Buying all the books on your reading list can be expensive so think about borrowing from a library, buying second hand, sharing with friends, or accessing them online. Be aware of your rights in case you need to return anything to the shop or online.
Click HERE for our Consumer Contracts Regulations factsheet!
Drive Down the Cost of Transport
Car insurance is a huge cost for any student. Young people can be charged around £3,000 a year. Shop around to get the best deal, using price comparison websites and never accept a renewal quote without haggling. Remember: If you’ve moved away from home, don’t forget to update your address with the DVLA.
Click HERE for our Driving Down the Cost of Car Insurance Guide!
Sharing the cost of your car journeys with other students can more than halve your fuel cost, and reduce the stress of driving everyday.
Click HERE to find people to share with in NI!
Student Travel Card
If you travel by Metro, Ulsterbus, or Northern Ireland Railway services, look into getting a yLink card from Translink. yLink is a discount card for 16-23 year olds. There is a one off cost of £8 for the card and it gives you 1/3 off all Translink bus and rail services throughout NI and up to 50 per cent off the Enterprise rail service. Pick up a yLink application form from any Translink bus or rail station.
Click HERE for getting the best value!
Switch & Save
Click HERE to see ways you can keep your energy bills down!
If you’re living in a house with oil heating, savings can be made by shopping around suppliers each time. Try not to rely on emergency drums as they cost considerably more.
Click HERE to see the cheapest oil prices!
If you’re paying for electricity/gas, you can save money by switching provider or tariff. Pay as you Go meters can be installed and make budgeting easier, just remember to check with your landlord before making any changes!
Click HERE for our online Energy Price Comparison tables!
Opening a student bank account is essential for managing your money while at university. If you already have an account, make sure it is the best student account available. Many offer 0% interest overdrafts or additional benefits like discounts; if you need to dip into your overdraft remember that it does have to be repaid! Use with caution or in emergencies only, the interest rate may jump considerably once you graduate.
Price comparison websites will help – they sometimes list banks which don’t have branches in NI but if you can bank online, don’t let this put you off!
Click HERE for our Opening an Bank Account Guide or HERE for our Switching Bank Account Guide