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27 Money Tips For Students That Are Actually Useful

Economics made easy.

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1. Compare rates on your bills.

Columbia Records

If you're in halls, you probably won't have any say in who provides the gas, electricity...etc, but if you're renting a house you should *definitely* shop around. Don't just go with what's already set up in the house – see if you can get a cheaper deal from somewhere else. Money Supermarket is a great tool for this, as is the Cheap Energy Club.

2. Compare mobile phone deals.

Mobile phone contracts are highly competitive these days. Do your research to find the best deal for you, and ALWAYS HAGGLE. I know at least two people who called their mobile contractors to tell them they were leaving for a cheaper deal, and the company they were with then offered them an even cheaper deal to stay. Same goes for internet providers too.

3. Look up transport discounts.

I don't know about other countries, but here we have a 16-25 railcard that gets you a third off rail prices – it costs £28 a year but you easily make that back. You can also buy tickets in advance for WAY cheaper – like, I'm talking £25 instead of tickets in excess of £100.

4. Get a good bank account.

You'd be surprised how much of a difference your bank makes to your finances. Be sure to do your research: You'll want a student account with a 0% interest overdraft as a minimum. And don't be glamoured into an account by fancy freebies – will a free dvd rental account actually be that valuable in the long run?

Once you have your account, DON'T BE AFRAID TO SWITCH. Banks don't tend to reward loyalty – benefits are geared towards enticing new customers. Have your student account for uni, but as soon as you graduate, shop around for better deals; just because your bank has the best student account doesn't mean it also has the best graduate account, or regular current account.

5. Set up separate bank accounts.

Having multiple bank accounts is not as daunting as you might think it is, and it's so useful for separating out your finances. Set up an account separate from your main account and as soon as your student loan comes through transfer your rent and bill money into it. It'll stop you from accidentally spending it and immediately shows you how much money you have left to work with.


6. Avoid credit cards.

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I mean, if you're determined to get a credit card, don't let me stop you. They can be helpful if you need money in a pinch. But if you can avoid getting a credit card when you're at uni, do. Basically, try to avoid anything that will encourage you to spend money you don't have: Credit cards, huge overdrafts, and the most evil of them all: store cards (lured in by 10% off, I once spent £15 on a card from a popular accessory chain, promptly forgot about it, then went on holiday and came back to over £50 worth of late charges). At some point you will need to get a credit card to improve your credit rating, but honestly starting to worry about that at age 18/19 seems like overkill to me – especially if you're bad with money and are at risk of spending more on it than you can feasibly pay back.

7. Use cash.

Having actual money in your hand rather than a ~magic plastic card of unlimited money~ can really help curb your spending. Get cash out for a night out and leave your card at home so you can't drunkenly buy any rounds you'll regret. Work out your budget, and then keep the money for food/clothes/drink in cash in separate envelopes and be strict with yourself about not going over (just don't lose the cash).

8. Track your spending.

Money Dashboard

When I was at uni, I had a friend who used to write everything she spent down in a little notebook. At the time, I remember thinking it seemed excessive, until I started doing it too after graduating, and it totally transformed my finances. These days you don't need a notebook – you can just get a handy app on your phone. Not only will they help you track what you spend, they'll budget for you, and help you set saving goals. My favourites are Money Dashboard, MoneyHub and Toshl.

9. Set up overdraft warnings.

The great thing about being a student is those sweet 0% interest overdrafts. BUT, if you go a single penny over that overdraft, the bank will come down on you like a ton of bricks and charge you a breathtaking amount of money. Prevent this happening by phoning your bank and asking them to send you text message alerts when you're getting close to hitting your overdraft limit.

10. Save up an emergency fund.

Emergency cash, a financial buffer or a fuck-off fund. Whatever you want to call it, you should have one. "But how can I save enough, when I live off 50p a day and have to craft my clothes out of macaroni cheese?!?!" I hear you cry. Ok, it might not be easy, or even possible – I don't know your financial situation. But please, take a long hard look at your finances and if you can, put a little money aside regularly into a savings account.

Maybe it's £2.50 a day. Maybe it's £5 a week. Maybe it's whatever spare change you have going into a piggy bank. Build up your emergency fund and then if emergency strikes, you're not left maxing out a credit card or going over your overdraft.

And avoid pay day loan companies – the interest rates will never ever work out in your favour.

For some tips that will actually help you save, click here.


11. Cook!

You don't need to become a cordon bleu chef overnight, but learn a few basics, even if that's just how to pimp your ramen with egg and veggies. Honestly, it's not as hard as you might think. The more you can cook for yourself the better; it's SO much cheaper than ordering takeout, eating out, or dining at your campus cafeteria. For easy and cheap student recipes, click here.

12. Bulk is better.

Shop in bulk and cook in bulk. If something's on sale and will last a while (i.e. toothpaste, loo roll, shower gel) STOCK UP. If you know someone with a costco card, get a group together and bulk buy like crazy. If it's not practical for you to have a year's supply of loo roll in your uni halls, find a buddy or two to split a bulk pack with you.

If you can make big batch meals, that'll also save you money. Cook a big meal in advance then freeze portions for later. Here's a make-ahead meal plan to start you off.

13. Set up a Come Dine With Me group.

Channel 4

At uni, a group of friends and I set up a Come Dine With Me style situation, where we'd take it in turns to cook for each other. It actually worked pretty well – we paid for one meal a week rather than five which worked out as a lot cheaper. Sure, it's a bigger meal, but cooking one big meal from scratch is way cheaper than five meals for one.

Make sure you're cooking with like-minded people though. One person "forgetting" to cook, or another making instant noodles when you made salmon en croute is a recipe for an argument.

14. Figure out your local supermarket's schedule.

Go to your local supermarket often enough, and you'll eventually see when they mark stuff down. Our local Asda was 24 hour and we figured out that a lot of things went on sale in the stupidly early hours of the morning. There's nothing quite like running through an Asda at 3AM with a trolley full of discount potatoes to make you feel alive.

Meat, fish, bread and veggies can all be frozen so don't be put off buying food that's about to go bad. Just take it home, wash it, cut off any bad bits and freeze it until you need it.

15. Get cashback on online shopping.

I used cashback sites religiously when I was at university and after I graduated, buying as much as I could online (with free shipping) – over a year, I got nearly £100 back via the sites. You can get up to 12% cashback on loads of sites, which really adds up over time – Top Cashback was the one I used most frequently, but check out as many as you can, as they all have different deals.


16. Always carry your student card.


A lot of places offer student discounts, but they're hella strict about you having to show them your student card for the discount. Believe me, I drunkenly tried and failed to convince the McDonald's staff to give me my free cheeseburger sans-card enough times to know.

17. Work where you shop.

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First of all, getting a job full stop will help supplement your student loan, plus will help add a bit of structure to your student life – as an English student I spent far too much time sleeping in until 3pm and staying up all night . But if you manage to get a job at your favourite clothes shop there's the double whammy of also getting a discount on whatever you buy there!

This also works for food and drink – my weakness at uni was always nice meals and fancy cocktails. Working behind the bar at the local cocktail joint and as a waitress in my favourite restaurant made for a lot of free food and drink (the restaurant in particular would feed me every shift, and always gave me a discount when I ate there as a customer).

18. Find out where your local pound shops are.

Finding the local Poundland and Poundworld when I was at university was revolutionary for me. EVERYTHING WAS A POUND. They've got bulk packs of loo roll, kitchen towel, toiletries, cooking equipment and IT'S ALL A POUND. Amazing.

19. Pre-drink

iStock/Thinkstock/Ailbhe Malone/BuzzFeed / Via

To save money on booze you should always pre-drink rather than pay for expensive drinks when you're out. You can find a bunch of great pre-drinking games here.

20. Have a booze-free night.

Paramount Pictures

Don't get me wrong, I like a drink as much as the next person. But no one at uni ever explained to me that you didn't have to drink just because everyone else was. I don't know if this is still the same, but back when I was studying there was a lot of pressure to get really fucked up all the time – which was both unhealthy and pretty expensive. Now with the benefit of 100% hindsight, I can tell you that actually, it's totally fine if you just want to spend a night drinking juice and coca cola. If your friends are actual good friends it won't be an issue, and speaking from experience, you can still have a great night out going booze-free.

For some great alcohol-free drink options, check out this list.


21. Don't buy new books.

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There are literally so many ways to not have to pay full price for your course textbooks. Call your library to see if they have them on reserve, then go and photocopy the relevant pages you need. Rent them. Buy them second hand. Find some buddies on your course, split a book between you and share it (the photocopier is your friend). Just don't go paying full price because those things ain't cheap.

22. Use your library card. / Via

Hello my name is Emma and I am a number one library geek. And from my many years spent holed up in libraries, (school, public and university), I can tell you, they got everything there. Don't spend money on a Netflix or LoveFilm account – borrow dvds for free! Internet on the fritz? The library has wifi! Want to get out the house but can't afford to go to a cafe? LI-BRA-RY. Don't pay for anything that you can get for free at the library.

23. Save on tea and coffee.

I'm sure some people will disagree strongly with me on this, but I reuse teabags. A breakfast tea bag will last you at least two cups; green tea, as far as I'm concerned, is unlimited refills; and I'm notorious for making a pot of tea and continuing to top it up with hot water throughout the day (I'M SORRY, I KNOW I'M A TRASH PERSON).

Other ways to save on drinks: find out where in town does free refills (*cough* Subway *cough*), and if you're really skint bring teabags with you to cafes/coffee shops and ask for hot water, which is usually free. NB. Do NOT go into a cafe and only ask for free hot water without buying anything else, because that is a douche-tastic move. It's only acceptable to ask for free hot water if you're also buying food or it's part of a group order of actual paid-for drinks.

24. Take photos of your house when you move in.

I'm not saying every landlord is a miserly scrooge. But.... better to be prepared just in case. Take photos of every flaw, stain and broken item you can find when you move into your house, otherwise you may well find the cost for it taken out of your security deposit.

25. Pay attention to university events.

Our Christian union did free toasties late night on certain days, and there was always free booze and pizza ~somewhere~ on campus. Keep abreast of campus events and be sure to show up to the ones where there's free food.

26. Apply for scholarships and bursaries.


This seems obvious, but check out the grants and bursaries on offer and apply for them. Even if you're unsure if you'll qualify, you should still apply – there's nothing to lose and you might be surprised to the tune of several hundred (or even thousand) pounds.

27. Let yourself be experimented on.

There are so many psychology and science students out there who need someone to eat a cookie, fill out a form, or in my case, stare into a machine that monitored my pupil movement, for money. Find those students. Participate. Get cash in hand.

For 26 other nifty (non-spammy) ways to make money in your spare time, click here.


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