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Top money saving tips for students from students

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

Essential money saving advice for anyone about to start uni – straight from the mouths of recent graduates.

You got the A-Level results you needed and a place at university. It won’t be long now until you flee the nest – perhaps for the first time – and your student loan hits your bank account.

For some uni starters, it will be the first time you’ll have total control over your purse strings. But as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. You’ll have to think about paying for food, bills, rent, textbooks, and of course, nights out.

It can be a daunting and costly experience. But it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of ways to keep on top of your spending.

Here, some recent graduates share their top university money saving tips.

“Don’t take the bus or taxis. Invest at the beginning of term in a mountain bike or a mini scooter,” says Liam, 26, who recently graduated from Sheffield Hallam University.

“The amount of money my friends wasted on transport when they needed to get to a lecture was crazy in my eyes. Look on Freecycle to get a bike for free. That’s where I found mine – it just needed new brake pads.”

Cook together

Flora, 23, who graduated last year from Exeter University, was a fan of planning meals in advance.

“Plan your meals and write a shopping list, then do a big shop online to find the best deals and avoid buying things you don’t need,” she says.

“Try and take it in turn to cook for your flat mates; it often works out cheaper per person to cook for four people rather than just yourself.”

Flora also suggests bulk cooking.

“Make double portions of your dinner then take the second portion as your lunch in tupperware rather than buying it on campus,” she says.

“And make your coffee at home and take it in a flask.”

Liam’s tip on saving money on food involves bagging a free meal: “When a new food place opens, they’ll usually want to test out their menu, so I would always ring them up and say I was willing to test out and give feedback for a free dinner. Worked a fair few times.”

Use discounts

A few of our graduates recommend money off discounts to save some pounds.

Flora used the app Drinki which gives you free drinks and drink offers.

Katy, 22, who graduated from the University of Surrey last year, suggests signing up to Unidays, a website that offers discounts on online shopping.

She also encourages students to get an NUS card: “We lived next door to a Co-op and got 10% off which saved a lot.”

Ditch the plants

Another tip: don’t go overboard on decorating your room. “Plants especially, they will just die,” says Katy. “Everyone does it in their first year, it’s a running joke with lecturers.”

Bevan, 23, a University of Surrey graduate, suggests getting a part-time job. “Jobs on campus in the union are a great way to make friends,” he says.

Liam earned money through student focus groups and questionnaires on a website called The Opinion Panel. Businesses ask for student input and feedback in return for a fee.

Pick your room carefully

Leanne, 23, another University of Surrey graduate, says: “If money is tight choosing the smallest room in the house is a great way to save. You only sleep in there anyway.

“Also, try and find houses that have bills included,” she says. “That way you know up front the total cost of accommodation.”

When it comes to saving money on accommodation, Katy adds: “Don’t be afraid of sharing options as you only get to make closer friends/flat mates.”

Talk about money problems

If you do find yourself with money problems, don’t keep quiet about them.

“Be open,” says Katy. “Student services can give you great advice but also help you if you are worried or tight on money. One of my friends was able to get a reduction in his accommodation rent in his first year.”