Freshers’ week is in full force across the UK – a time where many students make their first steps towards financial freedom. If you're heading to uni, see how you can save while you study.
Fleeing the nest to start university is an incredibly exciting time. It’s your opportunity to start shaping your future – both career-wise and financially. Here’s our top 10 essential tips which could help you save cash and plan ahead during university.
1) Don’t blow your budget in freshers’ week
We know, we know… we hate to be a bore, but spending all of your cash within freshers’ week is a blunder you should avoid. That fancy dress costume might seem worth it at the time, but will you think the same when you’re struggling to fork out for loo roll at the end of the month?
Before you head off, you could withdraw what you’re happy to spend at the beginning of the week and leave your card in your room. That way, you won’t be splashing cash you haven’t budgeted for on nights out or day trips.
2) Plan your meals in advance
Starting university offers you the chance to test out your culinary skills. With a menu planner, you could jot down what you plan to cook for each day of the week.
Say goodbye to those impulse purchases which tip your budget over the edge – by following your menu plan, you could stick to your budget if you’re only buying food you’ve actually planned to cook.
3) Sell your textbooks
Whether you’re already at uni or just about to start, you’ll know that textbooks don’t come cheap. After term, you could cash in by selling your books – either to other students or by flogging them online. For your next set of books, you could check if anyone’s selling theirs before you pay full price.
4) Don’t treat your overdraft like your own money
Many student accounts offer you the option to apply for an overdraft. Overdrafts can be a handy safety net if you’re a student, particularly as many won’t charge fees or interest rates during your time at uni – if you stay within the limit, of course.
When it comes to overdrafts it’s good to remember that, while it’s there if you need it, it shouldn’t be dipped into without good reason. If you use up lots of your overdraft, it’ll be much harder for you to clear your debts when you graduate – and by that time, you may have to start paying interest.
5) Make use of student discounts
Got your eyes on a pair of jeans or need a new laptop for your studies? Don’t pay more than you need to – sign yourself up to student discount sites such as Unidays and you could shave money off your purchases.
6) Get student council tax discount
If you’ve moved out of your halls of residence – or if you moved straight into a student house – then it’s really important to make sure you’re not paying council tax if you don’t need to.
Chances are, if you live in a student household, you won’t be expected to pay council tax. But here’s the kicker: it won’t be automatically deducted. So you’ll need to head over to Gov.uk to apply for your tax discount.
7) Split your train tickets
If you’ve flown the nest to go to uni, you might face a long journey to get back home. And if that’s the case, then you might have to fork out for a costly train journey.
By splitting your trip into multiple journeys, you could save loads on your trip home. Check out ticket splitting sites, like TrainSplit or Split My Fare, and see how much you could save.
8) Protect your stuff
Student halls and houses can be a bit of a hot spot for thieves, so it’s important to make sure you’re covered should anything happen.
Your landlord or university will cover building insurance, but it’s worth looking at gadget or contents insurance to cover your valuables. Shop around and use comparison sites to find the best deals out there.
9) Choose a credit card wisely
If you’ve decided that you’re going to take out a credit card to cover extra costs, make sure you do your homework. When it comes to credit cards, the lower the interest rate the better. Plus, make sure your credit limit is easy to manage, as it could be tempting to spend beyond your means. Most student credit cards offer a limit of around £500 to reduce the risk of overspending.
10) Think about your credit score
At university, there’s a lot to be getting on with – and your credit score certainly won’t be at the top of your list of priorities.
But while you might not be thinking about improving your credit score, it’s important to be mindful of it. Anything like a late payment for your water bill or a missed phone payment can have a pretty damaging effect on your credit score, which could mean you’ll find it harder to access credit once you graduate.