Live together, save together

Posted 9 months ago

5 tips on how to save money whilst studying

Being a student often means learning how to navigate a tight budget. Although, stressing about money is the last thing you want to do whilst enjoying your time at university. Don’t worry, there are some really easy ways to save whilst studying. So, here are 5 tips that have helped me and will hopefully help you too:

1. Work out your budget and keep track of your spending

To start saving your money you must first work out how much money you have to spend each week/month/semester and estimate your outgoings for the same period. I found this quite tricky to begin with as I had no idea how much I would be spending on things like groceries, social events and travel. Luckily, with time you will start to understand these costs more. Once you have done this, you should decide on a budgeting method that you think will suit you and your spending habits best.

I like to use the Monzo app to budget and track my spending as you can allocate different amounts for different categories like transport and groceries. Then at the end of every month, I check my spending trends to make sure I’m not overspending on any categories. Monzo is also great as you can create a ‘round ups’ pot so that every purchase you make will be rounded up to the nearest £1 and the excess will be transferred to said pot. It’s a simple way to save some extra pounds without even realising it.

Another way you could budget is by downloading a student budgeting spreadsheet that allows you to input your own data, for example here is one Save the Student have created. This will help you work out how much you should aim to spend on different outgoings each week/month.

Make sure you are being realistic with your budget allocations. If you know that you will inevitably end up buying coffee a few times a week, include that in your allocation so you know where the money will be going. The reason why I love Monzo is it gives you a spending report every month, so you can alter your budget allocations according to common trends or alter your habits if you think you’re spending too much on one category. Whichever method you choose, just make sure you’re keeping track of your spending so that you stay in control.

2. Be savvy with your groceries

Groceries can end up being expensive if you’re not smart about the way you shop. Different supermarkets tend to sell their products at different price points, for example, Waitrose and M&S tend to be more expensive and Lidl and ASDA are typically more affordable. There is no general consensus that shopping online is more affordable than in-store, so you may want to try both and see which suits you best. I personally like to do an online shop from ASDA for bulk, non-perishable and frozen items and then purchase fresh and other essential items from Lidl. Whichever supermarkets you choose to shop at, make sure to get their free membership card/app such as a Tesco Clubcard, Lidl Plus, ASDA Rewards and Sainsbury’s Nectar to get discounts and collect points to get money off future shops. Don’t be afraid to ditch the branded items, as supermarket “own” branded items are usually much cheaper and taste just as good.

I’d recommend roughly planning your meals in advance and creating a shopping list ahead of time so that you’re not impulse buying when grocery shopping. Another thing that has helped me save money on groceries is by making meals that share ingredients so that no food goes to waste. For example, if you bought a pack of 3 peppers in a weekly shop you could use them in fajitas, a salad and make stuffed peppers during that week.

3. Only buy brand-new textbooks if you really have to

One thing that really shocked me when starting university was how expensive textbooks are. Instead of buying brand-new textbooks for each unit, you can borrow the books from the library or access the online version of it (if available). Alternatively, if you do want a physical copy of your own, check to see if there are second-hand versions available. Check if students from previous years are selling them or check on websites like eBay, Amazon or World of Books for second-hand copies. Also, I’d recommend checking with your lecturers to see if purchasing an older edition of the textbook would suffice as these tend to be cheaper.

4. Utilise the advice and support available from ResLife

The ResLife team have put several measures in place for cost-of-living advice and support. If you’re struggling with spending, then make sure you utilise all the support that’s available to you. Look out for the £1.50 value meals across campus food outlets to save some money. Alternatively, try out the Munch Box scheme by bringing a container and filling it with surplus food for just £2.50 across a range of campus outlets at these times. To save money when cooking, head over to the @unibathfoodanddrink Instagram to find out how you can feed four for £5 with some simple recipes. Also, in Fresh and The Market, you will find price locks on some essential items, try and opt for those items if you’re shopping for groceries on campus. ResLife also provide free emergency period products across several toilets on campus, so make use of this when you need it. Finally, ResLife offer loads of free events all year round so come along to save yourself some money!

5. Always check if student discount is available

You would be surprised how many places offer student discount online and offline. Whether it’s a restaurant, tourist attraction, online subscription, pub, café or shop, always check if they offer student discount. Some of the tourist attractions around Bath offer free student entry too, so always remember to ask.

If you haven’t already, download UNiDAYS and Student Beans to get a range of student deals across hundreds of retailers. Student Beans tends to have some more niche and independent retailers too so make sure to check if a store is on there before you purchase anything. You can also use your library card in physical stores as student ID. Just always remember to ask!

If you are struggling financially and feel like you need some extra support, find out how you can discuss your options with the University of Bath Student Money Advice team.