“If it’s free, take it” – Every Student Ever
It’s a well-known fact that, as students, we spend a lot of our time on the edge of bankruptcy, or when that student loan finally drops, rolling around in riches. Money-saving can be tricky, and striking a fine balance between the two to manage your finances is an art form that seldom master, but understanding how to spend smarter is one of the most useful lessons you’ll learn as an undergraduate — one that you’ll hopefully keep with you for the rest of your life!
Your next few years will be a life of budgeting, so accept it or prepare for a cycle of debt that you’re walking in to. To help get you started on your path to monetary maturity, your spending-savvy friends here have put together five money-saving tips for students. Tag a friend who needs help “staying out of the red” in the comments below!
Money-Saving Tip 1: Tattered Textbooks
Your textbooks can cost serious cha-€hing, and if your teachers are anything like mine, they’re guaranteed to list the texts that they’ve written as part of your essential reading list for the semester.
You can save around 60% by buying used textbooks, or alternatively, renting your reading list from the university library can save you big bucks in the long term. Additionally, soft paperback versions of your books are often much cheaper than the hardback version, so get yourself onto eBay, Alibris, Amazon, or Google “second hand textbooks” before you part with your cash.
A key thing to remember is that when your term is over and your books are sitting on your shelf gathering dust, head to the same sites to trade them for cash or gift cards.
Money-Saving Tip 2: Budgeting Apps
As with everything else nowadays, there are apps out there to help you analyse your spending and deduce which aspects of your life you’re blowing your cash over. One such app is OnTrees. Free for iOS users, OnTrees links to your bank account securely and safely to track your usage. Displaying your incomings and outgoings in one place, users are able to create a budget plan and through the app monitor how closely they’re sticking to it. If you’re starting going over your budget, you know it’s time to draw back the spending.
Money-Saving Tip 3: Discounts
The key benefit of becoming a student is taking advantage of all the discounts available to you. If you’re studying in the UK, or plan to visit for a semester or two, it’s imperative to invest in an NUS Extra card. While there is a cost attached to it, you’ll make it up in no time. Offering 50% off Spotify, 10% off ASOS, 5% off Amazon and discounts at over 150 other retailers, you’d be crazy not to sign up for one.
In addition, if you’re a student in the UK, the 16-24 Young Persons Rail Card (YPRC) is the Holy Grail for thrifty undergrads. Travelling throughout the UK isn’t cheap, so whether you want to take your laundry home to mum for the weekend or visit friends at another uni, it can become a costly affair. The YPRC, however, gives you a third off rail travel across the UK, which over the course of a Bachelors can save you hundreds of pounds. If you do decide to buy one, remember that the best value for money comes from buying the three-year card, so make sure you apply for it before you become 24, and then sit back and reap the rewards.
Money Saving Tip 4: Cashback Queen
Although many people are skeptical about the concept of cashback sites, there are no hidden traps. Every time you buy something online, you can get some of your money back through websites such as Topcashback and Quidco. Both are worth joining, and between them you can cover almost every online retailer. You simply sign up with your email address and search the websites to find deals on items that you want to purchase. With cashback offers on anything from clothes and household bills, to mobile phones and insurance, there’s no reason not to sign up.
Additionally, remember to sign up to reward cards from supermarkets and pharmacies and rack-up loyalty points every time you spend. You can then redeem those points against other items you want to buy, helping you buy more with less!
Money-Saving Tip 5: Study Abroad
And when all else fails, go abroad to study. Finland, Norway, Germany, Poland and Austria are amongst the top destinations to study for free and offer the best cost of living. In addition to fattening up that piggy bank, the chance to study abroad will open up your mind to new cultures, will give you the opportunity to learn new languages, to try new foods, expand your horizons, and explore new places. Haven’t decided where to go yet? Check out the top ten European cities in which to be a student.
Thanks for reading this post!
Do you have any other money-saving tips for students? Let us know in the comments. And remember: if you need student accommodation with the best flatmates, you’ll find the perfect student home on Uniplaces.