6 tips to become a money savvy student

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It's easy to save money on books

It’s easy to save money on books

It’s that time of year again, when students take over Argos and IKEA to buy furniture for their digs, and flood the supermarkets with trolleys full of food.

In light of this, the recent news that 753 of the “Inbetweener generation” (those aged 18-19 years old) contacted us to seek advice on how to deal their debt, and the release of our new free student debt guide, our very own part time student, Suzannah Evans, has compiled a list of money tips for students.

1. Get the discount

There are student discounts everywhere. There are high-street ones such as New Look, PC World and Topshop/Topman. Most cinemas offer a student discount too and you can save money by going outside of peak times. If you pay £11 for an NUS Extra card you can gain discounts in a wider variety of places.

I have discovered student discounts in a range of local businesses as well. My local hairdresser gives a student discount on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, for example. Sometimes these things aren’t advertised, so it’s always best to ask.

2. Travel cheap

Petrol costs are still on the rise but you can get a good discount on coach and rail travel. A Young Persons Coachcard is £10 for the year and a Railcard is £28. You get a third off tickets with each.

If you get a bus or train regularly it may also be worth getting a monthly travel pass. This can save you money too as a lot of them give student discounts.

3. Bank right

Banks will be lining up for your custom and student bank accounts come with all sorts of incentives. From free music downloads and cash to free five-year railcards, it’s easy to feel a bit spoilt for choice.

Students normally need to have use of credit during their days at university and most bank accounts offer an interest-free overdraft, a safer borrowing option than a credit card or bank loan.  Most of these overdrafts remain interest-free for a year after graduation so you’ve got time to focus on paying it back.

Think about the kind of overdraft you need and don’t just go for the biggest. Don’t forget you’ll end up paying it all back once you’ve graduated.

4. Work

One of the best ways to avoid total student poverty is to get a part-time job. Some courses are more suited to this than others but if it’s not possible during term time see if you can get temporary work during university holidays. Most universities also offer casual work, for example showing next year’s intake of students around on open days.

If you work for the university, for example in a campus bar or restaurant, your employer is usually more likely to be understanding if you want to drop your hours during exam time.

5. Save on books and software

University books are notoriously expensive so if you can get books out of the library without buying them, then go for it. A good alternative is to buy second hand if you can, from a shop or online service such as Amazon Marketplace. And at the end of the year, don’t forget that a lot of university bookshops will buy textbooks back from you for a reduced amount too.

You can get a lot of alternatives to patented software such as Microsoft Word and Excel for free. For more information on this, here’s a brief guide from Money Saving Student.

6. Budget!

Student loans tend to be paid in one large lump at the start of each term and it can be very hard to resist going on a spending spree once you get it. But will it last you until the end of term? The best way to work this out is to write out (and stick to) a budget. This budgeting tool from Money Saving Expert is a good place to start, read our articles on budgeting, and regularly visit the excellent website Save the Student.

Are you a student who has wisdom to share? Please let us know your thrifty tips. And if you find yourself in a pickle, you can use our free guide to student debt to help you survive and thrive at university.

I live in Leeds and have worked for StepChange Debt Charity for two years in the aftercare team. I am also studying part-time for a Masters' degree in writing poetry, so I know all about having to budget! I also enjoys going to gigs and walking.

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