As university beckons, millions of new students living away from home for the first time will be gearing up for study, learning and now more than ever, budgeting. Making money go further especially if you add living essentials, travelling to campus and socialising to the mix, can seem difficult.
However there are plenty of smart ways you can save money on the essentials. Sam Whillance, a savings expert at online discounts platform Deal.Town shares some handy money-saving hacks for uni students ahead of the academic year.
Be savvy with your supermarket shopping
University is a student’s first real taste of venturing into the world alone – and that includes doing your own food shopping. Keeping yourself fueled is important, especially whilst you are drinking and studying, and you can do it without eating through your student loan.
Here are some important things to remember when shopping
Shop at bigger stores. Whilst the closer store to you may be more convenient, often they are the smaller stores, and can be more expensive.
Try not to do a full supermarket shop at the nearest express or corner supermarket. Opt for cheaper, big stores like Aldi or Lidl for your food shop which often have the cheapest fruit, veg, meat and more.
For other store cupboard staples, cleaning supplies and certain brands, Poundland, Home Bargains or B&M are also great.
Shop at a certain time, normally, later on in the afternoon or evening. Supermarkets will add yellow ‘reduced’ stickers to items that need to be sold before their expiration date.
If you can, try to time your supermarket trips for later on and make the most out of discounted deals that will help you to fill your freezer up with meat, fish, and meals for the coming days and weeks.
Many supermarkets also have clearance sections where products that cannot be sold at their RRP or may have damaged packaging, can be found. Just make sure to check you are happy with the item and that the goods aren’t compromised before heading to the checkout.
Loyalty schemes can save you money by unlocking discounts
Sign up to loyalty schemes where decent savings can be made. It may seem a slight hassle signing up, but giving your email address and spending a few minutes confirming your details online is worth it in the long run, as some of the discounts and offers are great.
Tesco Clubcard, myLidl, Pret and other retailers allow you to build points over time, with customers benefitting from money-off vouchers and other rewards that can contribute to future shops.
Stock up on store cupboard and freezer foods
Store cupboard foods are much cheaper than buying fresh foods. We all love a fresh gourmet meal, but at university it isn’t always the priority for a student.
Pasta, cereals, noodles, tinned sauces and veg are quick, tasty and very cheap to stock up on. These canned foods are also super easy to make when you don’t feel like cooking.
Buying other items in bulk such as toilet roll, condiments, shampoo, conditioner and hand soap will save you money in the long run. Just be conscious that some of these items are bulky, so it’s great if you have space to accommodate them.
If you didn’t already know, milk is one of the items that can be frozen. Buy a larger carton to save money and decant some into an airtight, freezer-safe container.
Defrosting frozen milk in the fridge overnight means you are also potentially curbing food waste, as the milk would not be spoiling.
Take advantage of student discounts
When you leave university, there is nothing worse than not being able to take advantage of student discount anymore.
At the moment, some stores like the Co-op offer student discounts including 10% off items in-store with a TOTUM card. If the Co-op is close to your uni accommodation it may very well be a staple store for you.
Amazon Prime Student membership currently costs just £39 per year or £3.99 per month. This is 50% off the regular price of Amazon Prime.
There is a price increase coming from Thursday September 15. The price of the monthly membership will increase to £4.49 and the price of the annual membership will increase to £47.49.
To avoid this price increase, you can buy an annual membership at the lower price before the price increase kicks in.
Other great student discounts at clothing stores can be taken advantage of, such as:
ASOS – 10% discount all year round, with occasional 25% offers
Boohoo – 10% off all year round
Burton – 10% off all year round
French Connection – 10% off online and in store
New Look – Year-round 10% discount using a UNiDAYS code
Travel will always be a part of your day-to-day life as a student. Not only will you need to travel to and from uni each day, but also into the city centre for nights out, shopping and of course going home to see family.
There are several smart ways you can travel at a lower cost. The 16-25 Railcard lets you save a third off rail travel for the whole year.
Whilst many Universities have buses that operate services for students for free, a lot of journeys won’t be included. Companies like Stage Coach provide bus passes for students as well as local companies in other cities and towns.
If you can, try to research which bus you will need to get to uni and sort yourself a bus pass in advance.
If you’re studying in the Capital, an Oyster Card is available for London students. Whilst the Tube is one of the easiest ways to get around the Capital, an 18+ Student Oyster Card costs just £25 and will save 30% on TravelCards, bus and tram passes.
Another handy trick is attaching your 16-25 Railcard to your Oyster Card, allowing you to save 34% off pay-as-you-go off-peak fares and daily caps for the London Overground, the Tube, the Elizabeth Line and most of the other National Rail services across.
Depending on which city you are in, Uber can be one of the cheapest ways to get around. Do your research beforehand to see if you really are getting the best deal.
Before you book your Uber, a handy trick is to wait until the prices are at their lowest. This depends on time of day and if there are any huge events going on in the city centre.
If prices are surging, opt for a local service with a fixed rate, which will save you money on travel for that day.