My son has just returned from his first year at uni and I had all those thoughts myself. To me it was important to sit down with him at the start of the academic year and talk about how he would manage financially, and look at ways to budget and save money. Some students pick up this knowledge anyway but it was reassuring to talk about it and know that he had some of the skills needed as well as discussing further ways to save with him.
Here are my top 5 tips on saving money as a student.
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1. Work out a budget and stick to it
I know it's not exciting but work out how much money you have coming in, how much your outgoings are and how much you will have left at the end of the month. The Money Advice Service has a great online budget tool if you need help with this.
Money Saving Expert works this out by 'count your student loan and any grant, any cash from parents and any work income, then minus your outgoings and don’t spend more than that.' .
It is worth signing up for a student bank account as many give perks like a 0% interest free overdraft which can help with emergencies.
2. Get the benefits and loans you are entitled to
A student loan is available for tuition fees and living expenses for the majority of students in the UK and it's the lowest cost loan you will ever get. Check out the Student Loans Company for further information.
As a full time student living with other students or on your own you don't need to pay council tax. Make sure you fill in the relevant forms from the local council so you don't have to pay. If you live with a non-student, you still receive a 25 per cent reduction in your council tax. To get your discount, make sure you apply to your local council via www.gov.uk.
If you are a parent, have a low income or a disability there may be benefits you can claim from the government, and financial help and assistance you can get from the college or university, so it's worth checking this out.
If you are predicted to get high grades, there may be scholarships available too, contact the finance department of the college or university to find out.
3. Get an NUS Extra card
The National Union Of Students run a scheme, where for £12 for 12 months students can get an NUS Extra card which gives discounts on eating out, fashion, shopping and much more. Nationwide companies are involved and you can get 5% off on Amazon, 10% off at Co-operative food, and 10% off at Superdrug for example.
4. Sign up for travel cards
As a student and/or a young person you can travel for a lot less with a student bus pass or a 16-25 rail card. The cost of transport can be a big part of a student's budget, especially if they are travelling from home, so any savings here will help a lot.
5. Only pay the TV Licence if you need to
Yes you can legally so this! If you only watch TV on catch up and limit it to you mobile, laptop or computer you don't have to pay the TV licence fee which is £145.50 a year. My son successfully did not pay last year as he doesn't watch live TV. Be sure to check out the TV licence website for up-to-date information on this, and you will have to complete a form online or ring them to speak to them about this and make a declaration.
If you do get a TV license and leave the accommodation in the summer months you can apply for a rebate for that time, which can be up to £40.
For more information check out this guide to student money saving by Money Saving Expert.