Photo credit: Source: money via 401(K)2013 (flickr)

How to save money as a student

Martha Hughes

As we move further into the term, the ever-shrinking student loan is looking more depleted by the day. Saving money is something I never really mastered until my 20’s, but here’s a few words of wisdom I have acquired along the way for when it comes to making that loan last a little longer.

The first, but perhaps the hardest thing to do: quit the meal deals (particularly those extra expensive ones from Bute café). This might sound simple but over a year, these lunches out can rack up a ghastly bill of up to £500 over a year’s time! Try to do as much meal prep as possible throughout the week so that you’ll have leftovers to take with you for lunch instead.

Another way to save on food is to cook together with flatmates or friends. By planning meals together, not only is this great for money-saving, it’s also great for a fun night in (for when you don’t want to spend a small fortune on a Wednesday night at the SU). ‘BBC Good Food’ has a student section with affordable, but delicious, meal ideas.

A great way to keep on top of your finances is to download a free money tracking app. A lot of these are quick and easy to use and let you instantly see how you’re spending a lot of your loan. This can even be useful to pinpoint any spikes in your spending that could be avoided in the future. There’s also apps that will help you set a budget, and hopefully stick to it. Take a look at ‘Goodbudget’ ‘OnTrees’ or ‘Money Dashboard’.

Something else to consider is switching bank accounts; there are student bank accounts with great offers of larger overdrafts such as Co-Op, or NatWest offer free railcards or even cashback when you pay your bills. Not to mention some banks such as Nationwide offer a lovely lump sum of up to £100 for switching.

If you’ve not yet heard of Unidays, you’ve probably be living under a rock! Unidays has 100s of offers for both high-street and online shops, restaurants, gyms and more. It also comes in handy when you’ve misplaced your student ID and you need to prove you’re a student, and of course, it’s totally free!

Energy-saving is another easy way to save on the loan if you’re living in a student house. Simple things such as turning off all the lights when you leave the room, taking shorter showers and all using the oven at the same time can make a difference. It may also be worth considering getting a smart meter; you don’t need to ask your landlord for permission for this but it may be best to let them know. Installation should be free and it’s a brilliant way to accurately track your usage and help keep costs low.

These may only be small changes but they do add up over time; by the end of the term you’ll hopefully find yourself a little less stressed over finances and with more time and energy to focus on your studies.

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