Students often have the hardest time of making ends meet. When you spend all your time learning, it can feel like you’re constantly spending cash, and yet somehow never have enough money to pay for the things you need.
While student life is an exciting and enlightening experience, it’s also a serious challenge. The good news is that there are a few ways that you can save your money and make sure that your degree doesn’t come with too much debt.
1. Track Your Spending
One of the most important things you can do when you want to save money as a student is to track your spending. That rule can apply to anyone – even if you’re not in university. Tracking your spending helps you to get a better overview over where you’re putting your money each month. This will also help you to see where you can reasonably afford to cut back.
Start off by creating a list of all the sources of incoming cash you have, such as part-time jobs, scholarships, and loans, and then list everything you need to pay for on a monthly basis, such as travel, your rent, and your resources for school. After that, list anything else that you pay for that you don’t necessarily need, like nights out with friends. You can decide from there where you feel comfortable cutting costs.
2. Be Savvy with your Food Shopping
As a student, food is likely to be one of your biggest expenses, so it’s a good idea to look for ways that you can reduce your bills. The first and most obvious thing you can do is make sure that you don’t buy branded items. Instead, look for the “value” products in your local supermarket, and shop towards the end of the day when most of the items in the fridge will be discounted.
You can also look into creating a food schedule with your housemates so that you can buy ingredients in advance and save as much as possible. That way, you’ll be able to do a more cost-effective “big shop” each week to reduce your need to pay out on expensive takeaways.
3. Be Careful with Loans
There are few people that will be able to get through a degree without taking out a loan. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be cautious with the money you borrow. Make sure that you choose a student loan, as this will ensure that you don’t have to pay the money you owe back until you can afford it. If you need extra personal loans for things like a deposit on a student house, or the costs of travel and other expenses for the year, then compare your options carefully online.
Remember, the more you can save on interest rates, whether it’s the cost for your car loan, or something else entirely, the more you’ll have to put towards other expenses.
4. Make the Most of Student Discounts
There are countless shops and supermarkets that offer student discounts to help ambitious learners keep their costs as low as possible. Sometimes, even if you can’t see any obvious signs that a store offers a student discount, it might be worth asking a service rep if one is available.
Remember to double-check when you’re buying things online too, as you’ll often be able to find discounts through the NUS website. You may need to buy an NUS card to take full advantage of your student status, but it’s generally well worth the cost, as there are more than 200 different discounts you can access through this card alone. You can even save money on things like insurance and holidays if you look hard enough!
5. Buy as Much as Possible Second Hand
Finally, whenever you can, commit to buying the things you need second-hand, instead of brand-new. There are plenty of places you can find things like course textbooks and extra supplies for a much lower price just because they’ve been used before. Look on sites like eBay to get started and remember to check out local selling groups on Facebook too. Remember only to purchase the most important books that you’re going to need all the time, the rest you can borrow from your university library.
Other things you can buy second-hand include furniture for your dorm room or flat. You’d be surprised how much you can save just by investing in a perfectly good second-hand sofa.