How to save money on nights out, books, computers, food, travel and other useful stuff!
Student living can seem at once exhilarating and daunting. Probably the most difficult challenge you will face will be making sure your money lasts all year long and doesn’t run out as soon as Fresher’s Week is over. This guide is intended to help you make your cash go further while you are studying. It is divided into sections so you can jump to the most relevant sections to you
DO: Save on course books and equipment. Buying books for the new term is one of the most expensive parts of student life. Ideally, you would borrow all the books you need from the university or town library, but this may not always be possible.
Money saving tip: Hunt around on abebooks.co.uk, jscampus.co.uk, sellstudentstuff.com (and of course, Amazon and eBay) for a cheap second-hand copy, or see if you can get it for free via a book-swapping website, such as Bookmooch or ReadItSwapIt. You could also speak to students who are on the same course as you but one year ahead and ask if you can buy their books when they’ve finished with them.
DO: Question any deal that offers you a ‘free’ laptop. It will usually come with strings attached. However, this doesn’t necessarily make it a bad deal – read Is A Free Laptop Actually Free? for more information.
Money saving tip: Shop around to find the cheapest price for your computer using a ‘shopbot’, such as Kelkoo or Pricerunner. Then buy it via a cashback website to earn cash back on the amount you spend. For a list of some of the cheapest computers you can buy at the moment, read Get A Brand New Computer For Less.
DO: Plan ahead when it comes to travelling home for the holidays. The earlier you book those train tickets at the end of term, the cheaper the fares will be. Similarly, while at university, bear in mind that you can usually get a cheap student season ticket on public transport.
Money saving tip: When booking train tickets, use a train company website, such as NationalExpressEastCoast.com, rather than a ticket booking site such as the Trainline. This will save you hefty transaction fees. And don’t forget you can buy a railcard if you are 25 or under to reduce your fares by a third.
Stuff you dont want – and stuff you do!
DON’T: Underestimate the value of your clutter, when you’re deciding what to take with you to university. Sell the things you don’t need anymore, and your loss can also be your gain! Use www.ebay.co.uk, gumtree.com or www.loot.com.
Money saving tip: Once you arrive at university, join your local Freecycle group. This is a mailing list where local people offer up items they no longer want, for free – as long as you agree to collect them. One Fool recently furnished her entire flat using Freecycle! You can also put out ‘wanted’ emails, requesting items that you would like to own.
DON’T: Forget to budget for nights out. If you’re not realistic about what you spend your money on, you’ll find yourself falling into debt.
Money saving tip: Take advantage of any free entertainment on offer. Register with a TV production company, and you could get tickets to be in the live audience of your favourite show. Similarly, SeeFilmFirst and MomentumScreenings will send you complimentary tickets to preview screenings of new movies. If it’s nights in you’re after, DVD rental websites such as Lovefilm and CDwow offer a free trial to new customers – so you could hop around from site to site for months of free DVDs. Check your local student union for great cheap night out at Student Union.
DON’T: Spend a fortune on food. Food prices have risen sharply in the last year. Eating out, takeaways and other convenience foods are now very expensive and will make a huge dent in your budget. If you can’t cook then learning should be a priority. Check out YumYum.com and TheStudentCookbook.co.uk for free recipes aimed at students, or visit our Recipes & Cooking discussion board to get help from fellow Fools.
Money saving tip: Order your groceries online. This will make it easier to stick to your budget and shop for what you need, rather than making impulse purchases. Conduct your shop via mysupermarket.com, so you can compare prices across different supermarkets, and then look for discount vouchers on hotukdeals.co.uk to offset the cost of the delivery.
DON’T: Be afraid to ask shops and businesses if they can offer any student discount and check out our bi-weekly Discounts And Deals articles, which round up the latest and hottest discounts and deals available at the moment.
Money saving tip: Regularly check the discount offers available on websites such as studentbeans.com and the NUS.org, as well as hotukdeals.co.uk. But don’t be tempted to buy something just because you get a discount – or you won’t end up saving any money at all!