Students spend £1,070 per academic year on books and equipment alone and your student loan will only stretch so far, especially when you discover that the average (non-London) student can expect to spend £22,189 a year! WOW! BUT there are ways to save as a student and still have money for beer!!
1. Make sure you renew your NUS card each year and ask around for discounts. Not all stores will advertise their student discount but many large high street stores (and small independents in fact!) will offer them and you don't know until you ask! Take advantage of freebies and check out Student Beans and UNiDAYs for even more student discounts and deals. Buy an NUS Extra Card for £12 a year and loads MORE shops will give you money off.
2. Cashback is a MUST for students - it is FREE MONEY! If there's an option to buy via a cashback site like TopCashback or Quidco then go for it. Remember to withdraw any earnings promptly and put them into an account where you can earn interest on them (I know, I know, students aren't known for their saving prowess!)
3. A 16-25 Railcard currently costs £27 online (instead of £30) and will save you up to a third on train fares. As long as you're in full time higher education you're eligible, whatever your age. Also book train travel as soon as you're able through sites like thetrainline and redspottedhanky to get the best fares available. The BEST and most cost-effective time is 12 weeks before you travel, but sometimes even booking the night before will bag you a cheaper fare
4. If you only watch on demand TV (BBC iplayer, 4OD, ITV player etc) then you DON'T need a TV licence. So if you have a laptop and decent broadband you could stream your favourite programmes after they've aired and save yourself £145.50 a year. PLUS if you leave your student house for three months over the summer, you CAN claim back part of your TV licence, this is sometimes as much as £37! Search 'student holiday' on the TV licence site for more details.
5. Don't be afraid of buying second hand and that includes charity shops! According to a survey by Gumtree, Brits are the most charitable in Europe with 67% more likely than their European neighbours to donate unused items and gifts to charity! Clothes, shoes, kitchen items, instruments... have a look and you could kit out your whole student house using charity shops and second hand sites like eBay, Preloved and Gumtree. Don't forget Freecycle too!
6. There are also websites like Sell Student Stuff that sell on second hand books and sites where you can swap books with other students like Read it, Swap it. You also don't need to buy everything, your university library WILL have the books on your reading list and check out student noticeboards for people selling on their old textbooks. Just double check which edition you need as you don't want to spend your whole life searching for the right page references!
7. Find a student bank account with an interest free overdraft, it is the BEST perk on offer. Many students live in their overdrafts so you REALLY don't want to get stung by fees. Halifax and HSBC will give you up to £3,000 interest free, although they will consider your credit rating before allowing you the full amount and Santander is brilliant with a £1,500 interest free overdraft and a FREE four year rail card.
8. Check to see whether your belongings are covered by your parent's home insurance policy when you take them off to your uni house or Halls of Residence. Students and young people are often targeted by thieves so make sure your valuables are covered. If in doubt, then take out your own policy and check that things like downloaded music are covered - a biggie.
9. Don't get caught out by car insurance. If you are the main driver of your car, it is ILLEGAL to 'front' (be a named driver on your parents car insurance) and if you have an accident the insurer DOES NOT have to pay out, resulting in a hefty unpaid unclaim! To ensure you are fully covered, you will need your own policy with your University address. If you don't have a car check out zipcar for daily, even hourly rentals - perfect for a quick trip home.
10. Depending on your circumstances (how much your family earns, the price of your course etc) you may be eligible for help. Help with tuition fees is not means tested but maintenance grants and loans are. English Students should visit GOV.UK and use the Student Finance calculator to see what they are entitled to, Welsh Students should visit Student Finance Wales, Northern Irish Students should visit Student Finance ni and Scottish Students should visit SAAS
For more student money saving ideas, read my One minute guide to saving money as a student