Money-saving tips for students

08 Sep 2016

Students and spending go hand-in-hand — how else are you going to fund your freshers’ week fun? However, before long, you’ll find yourself desperately hanging on to your last fiver and living on a diet of beans on toast.

It doesn’t have to be this way though. If you stay savvy with your money and save where you can, you can stretch your student loan even further. Stagecoach shows you how it’s done:

1. Plan your meals


What harm can picking up a Starbucks on the way to a lecture do? It’s only a few pounds, right? 

Everyone needs a treat every now and again, but problems arise when your treats become habits. Before you know it, grabbing lunch with friends after your 12 o’clock lecture is a regular thing and your weekly spend is mounting. 

Instead of forking out on pub grub, sarnies and snacks, plan your meals in advance and prepare your lunch at home. You’ll be amazed at how much you can save — and you won’t risk losing your spot in the library as you dash to the café!

2. Take advantage of student discounts

Of course, one of the main perks of being a student is the discounts! Isn’t that the reason you enrolled!?

The NUS Extra card gives you access to over 200 discounts both online and in-store. It costs £12 for one year, £22 for two years or £32 for three years, so you can even get a discount on buying the card itself.

Want to save even more? If you mainly shop online, sign up for UNiDAYS instead. Create an account, verify your student status and start saving without the expense of a card!

3. Get the right bank account

piggy bank

From free rail cards to vouchers, choosing your bank account has never been so exciting! However, don’t get blinded by the freebies — after all, what good are a couple of vouchers if you’re paying an extortionate overdraft fee every month?

The account needs to work for you. Look for 0% overdrafts with a decent limit, but remember they aren’t a free pass to go spending. Use them as a buffer and don’t go over your overdraft.

4. Save money on transport

Taking your car to university could be a big mistake. Not only will you regularly battle for parking spaces outside halls, you’ll have to cover the cost of tax, insurance, petrol and maintenance. Doing all this on a student budget is tough, trust us!

Public transport is a better option for students. Regular and affordable, it will help you get where you need to be without worrying about who the designated driver is. unirider is available on a yearly or termly basis and offer unlimited travel in your chosen zone for as little as 72p per day. Buy one at the start of the year and you’ll have one less thing to worry about!

5. Free food!

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch but there is (sort of!). Everyone’s favourite fast food restaurant McDonalds offers some great student perks — show your student card when buying a meal and receive a free cheeseburger, mayo chicken or original McFlurry. It’s perfect for curbing your post-pub crawl carb cravings!

6. Be book smart


Depending on your course, you’ll likely have a reading list as long as your arm. Most of the time, the books will sit under your bed gathering dust until you eventually dig them out for assessment season.

Books are expensive, especially if your lecturer specifies an exact edition. However, there are ways you can cut the costs and still remain a model student. E-books are usually cheaper than physical copies and they’ll make your backpack lighter — it’s a win-win!

If you don’t already have an E-reader, you can still save on good old fashioned paperbacks. You can normally pick up used copies for pennies on Amazon or, if you’re quick enough, you may be able to grab a copy from the uni or local library.

7. Clear out the clutter

When your bank balance looks low, you’ll need a way to make some cash. Getting a part-time job is a big commitment that will interfere with your party study schedule. 

If you want to make some money without lifting a finger, consider selling some of your old stuff on sites like eBay and Gumtree. Whether it’s old clothes or that Christmas present you’ve never got round to using, it’s amazing what people will buy and your profits will quickly mount up.

8. Don’t pay for Microsoft Office

laptop apple

No, we’re not suggesting that you commit any crimes here! You can actually get Microsoft Office for free from the Microsoft Office website — just sign up with your student email address.

Students at 99.9% of universities are eligible, so there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get the essential software straight to your laptop for absolutely nothing. It will make writing your assignments a little bit easier — although there’ll be no excuse not to now!

9. Ditch the brands

supermarket own brand


Buying big-name brands will seriously up the cost of your food shop — and to be honest, you don’t need to buy them. Supermarkets usually offer their own version of popular products and a lot of the time it’s hard to taste the difference! 

Of course, you’ll have your favourites that you’re not willing to sacrifice, but is branded pasta really that much different to your supermarket’s basic range? It’s little swaps like this than can save you a fortune over the semester. You could even treat yourself to a takeaway with your savings and celebrate your savvy shopping ways.

10. Stream music


What are pre-drinks without an epic playlist of tunes? However, when you’re catering to Death Metal Dave, Pop-Princess Polly and Country Music Carl, buying each song can end up being expensive! 

A much more savvy option is to use a streaming service. Sites like Spotify are free to use, you’ll just have to listen to a few ads every now and again. You can upgrade to a premium account without the ads for a small monthly fee. Streaming on the go? Hook up to Wi-Fi to avoid maxing out your mobile data!