Becoming a student marks a start of the new life era for young people. Tons of new knowledge, new friends, fun parties, and sleepless nights make college years memorable
Studying away from home is a period of increased responsibility. For some, student years coincide with their first jobs, but even those who still live on a weekly allowance get their first experience of proper money management.
According to the National Student Money Survey in the UK, the majority of students (over 70%) are worried about making ends meet. Moreover, these worries impact their social lives and mental health. At the same time, over two thirds of students arrive at university without a solid understanding of how to handle their finances, while about 10% have never budgeted before.
Therefore, these money-saving tips will definitely come in handy to all students before the holiday season.
1. Use your status.
Students in many countries have a privileged position when it comes to visiting public places and events. Many organisations offer student discounts on tickets, travel packages, subscription plans, etc. In fact, there are ways to cut costs by simply showing your college ID, on everything from clothing and food to electronics and software. You just need to do thorough research before shopping or going out.
Here are just a few examples of student discount offers from major brands.
- HP has the Education Store program for university students and teachers with exclusive discounts, free shipping and easy return.
- Apple offers a discounted monthly rate for Apple Music subscription along with free access to Apple TV+ for a limited time.
- H&M has occasional promotional periods when it offers about 10-20% off full price items for students. In addition, students may save extra as they join the brand’s loyalty program.
- If you’re a student or a teacher you are eligible to get the online version of Microsoft Office plus 1 TB of online storage for free.
- Adidas also has certain promotional periods when students can buy brand clothing and accessories with 20-35% discount.
- One of the biggest British supermarkets – Morrisons – created a Students Club for university students who join the loyalty program My Morrisons. Members receive benefits throughout the year such as money-off promotions, competitions, free products and discounts.
2. Search for coupons and deals
Great bargains are everywhere. Whether you’re planning a major purchase, going to order food take-away, visiting a cinema, or buying a new dress, there’s most probably a good discount waiting for you somewhere.
Some people don’t bother to look for the best deals. They find it too time-consuming. However, with loads of online resources and apps, your bargain shopping will be fast and easy.
Some of the best websites for shopping coupons and deals are:
- Amazon Coupons (some coupons are only available to Prime members)
Some coupon websites offer cashback instead of (or in addition to) an upfront discount on your purchase. The cashback amount is credited to the account you have created on the coupon site, and you can select how to receive the payout.
Furthermore, there are browser extensions like CapitalOne Shopping which automatically search for a better price while you shop at Target, Best Buy and more. Available coupons are instantly applied to your cart at checkout. You also get additional rewards for your shopping.
3. Save on food
According to USDA, a typical college student will usually spend between $163 and $367 a month on food. In the UK, the monthly grocery average is £101 ($133) plus £41 ($54) monthly on takeaway food. It is one of the largest expenses students have, second only to rent. Therefore, if you wish to save money, pay attention to this budget category.
There are many ways to cut your food and grocery expenses. Surely, you can apply at least some of them to your lifestyle and schedule.
- Cook at home if you can. If you have access to a kitchen and the Internet, you can try out numerous affordable, simple and wholesome recipes presented online. In most cases, homemade food is less expensive than takeaways.
- When you shop at the supermarket, you should try to visit the store later in the day (an hour or so before closing time, or at about 7pm in 24-hour stores). All the items that go out of date the following day, including ready-made meals and baked goods, will be heavily reduced.
- Don’t walk past the discounted section. This corner of the supermarket may be stocked with food that’s approaching its best before date, fruit and vegetables that may go bad soon, but are perfectly edible at the moment, and many good products with damaged packaging or other minor faults.
- Freeze the leftover products until they get spoiled.
- Buy seasonal fruit and vegetables. They are usually cheaper and grown domestically. You can freeze most vegetables and fruit too, to avoid buying them at a higher price later.
- You can check dedicated apps like Olio and Too Good To Go to find excess food from individuals and restaurants at very attractive prices.
- Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. You’ll likely end up buying too many unnecessary snacks.
- Make a shopping list and stick to it.
- Plan your daily meals ahead and buy groceries accordingly. Don’t aimlessly buy products.
- Try to challenge your eating habits for a while. Spend a day or two without meat, pizzas, sweets or whatever else you usually splurge on a member of a loyalty program to get the best grocery deals, discounts and cashback.
- Compare prices at various supermarkets, farmer’s markets and grocery stores nearby. Don’t just go to the closest store, especially when you buy products for a week or before a party.
4. Consider buying in bulk.
You can share costs with your roommates (if you have them) or fellow students to buy household items in advance. Many stores offer bulk prices or BOGOF promotions for items you’ll surely need (like toilet paper, soap, laundry detergents, stationery, etc). Canned food, seasoning and spices, cereals, butter or tea – there are many products with long expiry terms. If the wholesale offer is worth it, you can save a significant amount of money. According to some estimates, the average amount you can save on each individual item by buying in bulk is up to 20% of the regular price. Even if the difference is 10 cents, but you use the item daily (e.g. eat a yoghurt a day), you will ultimately save over $36 during the year. Furthermore, stocking products in bulk makes it less likely that you’ll need to make an unexpected trip to the store, which is usually a source for additional impulsive purchases.
Sam’s Club, Costco, Wholesalemart, Flipkart or AllBulkFoods are good options for both offline and online bulk shopping.
5. Make savings regular.
If you wish to turn money-saving into a good habit, do it regularly. You can use a budgeting app to automate your savings or simply set a reminder to put a suitable money amount aside on a regular basis. Weekly, bi-weekly or monthly – the deposit schedule is up to you. The main rule is saving before spending. Thus, you should make your deposit right after you get your salary or allowance. Even if it seems too hard to make ends meet, start with a small sum – perhaps, the price of a cup of coffee. The habit of saving will make you ready for emergencies which happen sooner or later.
It will also give you a head start in investments. As you may know, most experienced investors agree you should start your investment activities as early as possible. Funds to make that happen can come only from money-saving.