While saving money as a student may seem impossible, there are plenty of ways to make every pound count – and to even help you stash away some cash for the good things in life.
Did you know that new full-time students in the UK are eligible for a tuition loan and a maintenance loan for living expenses? Depending on whether you live independently or at home with your family, in London or elsewhere, you can receive between £7,529 and £11,672 per year to cover your day-to-day costs – that’s around £627 to £973 each month. And although it’s not exactly a fortune, you can still succeed in organising your finances and find ways to cut back on unnecessary spending.
1. Bargain-hunting and (student) life hacks
So what does your budget need to cover? And how can you make it stretch as far as possible? Below, we’ve compiled a few tips and tricks that should help you on your way to becoming a more savvy-spender:
Rent – This is the biggest expense students face and sadly there are no real renting hacks apart from living in a shared house, or opting to live in a less popular (and cheaper) neighbourhood.
Food – As well as bringing a packed lunch with you whenever you can, try to cook in bulk with your housemates or friends if you live in a hall of residence. Freeze any leftovers for when you don’t feel like cooking and never go to the supermarket hungry – this will encourage you to avoid popping down to the local takeaway when you come home ravenous or making impulse purchases.
Utilities – Shop around to get the best price deals on gas and electricity. Changing suppliers is less of a headache than you’d think.
Internet/mobile – Every time your contracts expire, change providers to benefit from introductory deals for new customers.
Social life – Take advantage of free public spaces like parks, outdoor markets and museums. Head to your local off-licence instead of a bar and attend house parties instead of going clubbing. Register for a student NUS card (£12) to receive discounts on cinema and concert tickets, as well as gym memberships, restaurants and much more.
Clothes – Tap into the booming second hand clothing market. Explore flea markets, host clothes swapping parties, snap up bargains on social media groups such as “sell your stuff” and browse online vintage markets like vinted.co.uk
Travel – Sign up for a 16-25 Railcard to receive cheaper travel – it gives students 30% off all rail fares in the UK.
2. Getting on top of your finances
Once you know how much money is coming in each month, it’s time to set your priorities and goals. If you’re a fan of spreadsheets, you could tap into your inner accountant and keep track where your money goes in this way. You could also set up a savings account and hide some money in it throughout the month to avoid overspending. If you choose to do this though, keep a close eye on your current account balance to ensure you don’t accidentally go into your overdraft.
Prioritising fixed expenses
Better still, if you have a N26 current account, you’ll have two Spaces sub-accounts to help you organise your money. Like digital piggy banks, Spaces can be used to stash your cash out of sight so that you don’t accidentally overspend. Rent will probably always be your biggest expense and needs to be prioritised accordingly.
Create a Space called “rent” and create a “rule,” or an automatic money transfer, between the Space and your bank account. Set it up so that your rent money is transferred to the Space after pay day and then popped back into your account at the end of the month before your rent is due. That way, you won’t be tempted to spend it.
Saving for the things that matter to you
Generating savings is not rocket science – simply put, it’s all about reducing costs and increasing income – but it can be a real challenge when you’re living off a student loan. A spare change jar is great for funding a nice meal out or a trip to the cinema, but it’s not enough for that shiny new laptop you’ve had your eye on.
If you manage to juggle a part-time job in addition to your studies (well done, you!), you’ll have some additional money to put towards your savings goals. Otherwise it’s a case of gravitating towards the cheaper choices and squirrelling away what you can. But when all your money is sitting in a single bank account, it can be hard to know if you’re actually saving money at all.
If you have an N26 current account, you’ll benefit from two Spaces sub-accounts where you can stash your cash as you work towards your short or long-term savings goals. You can give your Spaces names like “Vietnam trip” or “cocktail dress” and even set targets and track your progress.
3. Don’t let your student budget dampen your student experience
Just because you’re living off a student loan doesn’t mean you have to go into austerity lockdown. By thinking ahead, sharing, recycling and keeping track of your money, you can make the most of your income and still treat yourself to an occasional night out or save up for that gap year.