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10 Student Saving Tips to Help You Survive Your First Year

Updated on June 19, 2019
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Psychology graduate with a love of lifestyle and wellbeing tips.


Heading off to college or university is an exciting time - from moving into your own place to enjoying the freedom to do whatever you want, you’ve every opportunity to reinvent yourself. With all this change going on, it can be difficult to keep track of your spending, and before you know it you’ve blown what little money you had on this month and you’re living on stale bread and cheese. If you can afford the cheese. Not only is taking care of your spending at university important for learning good finance skills in later life, it can also make your entire experience so much less stressful. But how exactly can you save money when you’ve textbooks to buy and parties to go to? Fear not, as I’ve put together my list of top ten money saving tips for students! These tips helped me keep afloat financially, especially during my first year when money was particularly tight, so hopefully, they’ll do the same for you!

1. Learn to Cook

One of the top student saving tips is learning how to cook for yourself. Again, not only is it a valuable life skill, but the more meals you can cook, the less you’ll be spending on ready meals and takeaways! I’m not talking a full on three course meal, but learn a few basics and it’ll serve you well in the long run. Simple meals like soups, pasta and casseroles can be easily adapted so that once you build up your confidence, you can switch ingredients around and start experimenting. If you need a little inspiration, take a look at these delicious and quick casserole recipes!

2. Buy Second Hand

As tempting as it is to head straight to the campus bookshop to buy shiny new textbooks, they’ll often set you back a fortune. For a book that you may end up using for just one semester, it’s worth looking into buying your books second hand. Quite often you’ll be able to buy used or previous editions through sites like eBay and Amazon for a fraction of the cost.

3. Make Use of Your Library

Guys, it’s there for a reason! Quite often you’ll be given a huge reading list during your first semester, and of course you don’t want to be spending piles of cash on yet even more books. This is where your university library comes in. They’ll be well stocked with the most up to date editions of textbooks and journals, so you can use them for what you need and return them without spending a penny.


4. Use Voucher Codes

Every little helps when you’re a student, which is why one of the top tips to save money is to get into the habit of using voucher codes when you shop online. You’ll be able to get savings on pretty much everything, and certain sites like My Favourite Voucher Codes and Savoo even donate to charity every time you shop with them, so you’ll be able to do your good deed for the day too.

5. Make Use of Student Discounts

A lot of retailers offer a student discount, so use it! Most commonly it’ll be a nice little 10% off, but in some cases you could get up to a 30% saving. Some places will even hold special shopping events just for students where you can get your fill of savings too. How you claim your discount will depend on the retailer. Most will just require a flash of your student ID, others may require you to sign up through another organisation, such as UNiDAYS or Student Beans, but it can easily be done in a few clicks! Not sure if your favourite store offers a student discount? Just ask! You’d be amazed the amount of places that offer it but don’t advertise it!

6. Budget

Okay, so it’s not the most fun thing to do, but budgeting is so important to make sure that you’re on top of your finances. Make a list of your expenses and your monthly income, and from that you’ll be able to see how much is left over. If numbers aren’t your strong point, ask your parents to sit down with you, or you can use a student budget calculator to make things a little less daunting. Likewise, this article has some great budgeting tips for students along with advice on some of the financial products available.

7. Get a Job

One sure fire way to make sure you have a little extra cash coming in is to get yourself a part time job. Again, make use of your student union, as they will often advertise jobs on campus so that you don’t have to venture too far. Alternatively, if you’re studying a particular skill, such as photography or computing, perhaps offer up your talents to anyone who needs it for a small fee, or register with a freelancing agency to make use of your skills. Just make sure you only take on what you can manage with your studies.

8. Cut the Non-Essentials

Little things you buy every day mount up incredibly quickly, so cutting the unnecessary things can often be a great way to save money. Do you really need that latte before your lecture? Could you make yourself a lunch instead of buying it from the campus restaurant? Before you commit to buying something, just stop and ask yourself if you really need it.

9. Make Use of Markets

Do a little research to see if where you’re living has a regular market - if it does, head straight down there before you go to the supermarket! You can often buy fresh fruit and vegetables at a fraction of the price you’ll pay in the supermarket, and the quality is just as good, if not better! Not only that, eating plenty of fresh fruit and veggies will keep you feeling fit and healthy too. Win win.

10. Don't Buy, Borrow Instead!

If you have friends or housemates that are studying similar subjects, you can arrange to borrow and swap books, or you could even go one step further and host a study session where you can make use of each other’s resources. It doesn’t just work for the academic side of college either! Girls, if you’re in need of a new outfit for that big party, why not invite a few friends over for a clothes swap? How about instead of a trip to the movies, you borrow a few DVDs from a friend and settle in for a marathon? Provided you’ve got a group of friends willing to lend out their stuff (and you are too!) you’ll be able to save money on books, outfits, everything!


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