5 Ways Students can Save Money
Already wondering where half your student loan has gone? Try these tips and tricks for saving money.
1. Take advantage of being a student
As a student, you have access to many different discounts and offers as long as you can prove you’re a student. It’s worth getting a 16-25 Railcard if you travel a lot…you have to pay £30 but from then on you get 1/3 off train tickets that can really add up if you often use the train. As a student you can save money at a large range of shops, businesses, and on products including Apple, Topshop, Odeon/Cineworld cinemas, Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Cloud, gym memberships and many more.
You can also join the Amazon Student scheme at Amazon.co.uk for free for six months (afterwards you need to pay a discounted fee) to save on shipping costs, similar to how Amazon Prime works.
I highly recommend taking your student card wherever you go, signing up on UNiDays, and getting an NUS Extra card.
2. Don’t waste food and stop being so picky!
It is absurd how much edible food goes to waste and that can be a costly mistake, especially for a student. There’s no need to throw away a large pack of chicken that is going to go bad in a day, just portion it out and freeze it! If you go out to eat or order takeaway, save the leftovers for the next day… don’t throw them in the bin.
You have to be more careful when it comes to food products such as meat (stick to ‘use by’ dates), but with vegetables and fruit you don’t have to throw them away just because they’ve reached the ‘best before’ date. Even if fruit and vegetables are past their ‘best before’ date, if they look, smell and taste fine then they won’t kill you.
I also recommend trying to buy store-brand products. Some items will taste exactly the same for a fraction of the cost. For example, you can buy supermarket own-brand cornflakes for half the price of the big brands – and they taste the same!
3. Make the freezer your friend
I highly recommend taking advantage of your freezer if you can. To save on time and money, you can bulk buy/cook meals, store them in plastic containers and freeze them. I often do this with big batches of bolognese or lasagne (portioned out) so I can just defrost it and pop it in the oven or microwave when I want it.
Having frozen vegetables means you often have fresher veggies and they don’t go bad like fresh ones. Items such as bread and muffins can be frozen and thawed quickly in the toaster or oven.
Another quick tip that I have for those who have a sweet tooth – you can make a big batch of chocolate chip cookie dough, separate it into single portion balls of dough and wrap them individually in plastic wrap. Place the wrapped dough balls in a ziplock bag and freeze them…when you want a cookie, take a frozen ball of dough out (or a few) and bake in the oven straight from frozen…adding 1–2 extra minutes onto the baking time. And voila! Freshly baked cookies.
4. If you’re not using it – turn it off!
The amount of times I’ve seen students in the dead of winter with their windows wide open is crazy. I find people can sometimes have the bad habit of being cold when they first get home and blasting the heat. Later on, they get too warm but instead of turning off the heat they choose to open the window and let the heat out. This is just silly as it’s literally letting your money fly out the window. I often find after I get home and I make myself a cup of tea – I may not even need the heat on.
It’s also important to turn off lights and any other electronic devices when you’re not using them or when you’re leaving your accommodation as it’s an unnecessary waste of money and energy.
Another tip for those living in flats during term time – if you pay for hot water and gas with a top-up card remember to turn off your boiler when you’re away so it doesn’t eat up your credit.
5. Make lists!
One of the simplest and easiest ways to save money is to just keep track of what you’re spending, and when. If you write down what you buy in a spreadsheet, it may help you realise that you’re spending far more on something than you originally expected.
It’s also important to write out lists when you go shopping to ensure you stay on track with what you’re supposed to be buying and not what you want to impulse buy.