The means of a student are never going to be mistaken for those of a Monte Carlo plutocrat, even if many students do their level best to live beyond those means. This leads to short- and long-term debts, cold sweats every time a utility bill comes in and blind panic when rent is due. It doesn’t have to be this way at all, though. Even if the most obvious money-saving tips seem unlikely to make a big difference to your pecuniary situation, you’d be genuinely surprised to find that when combined, tried-and-tested tips really will leaven your load and fill up your coffers. Read on for some of the best ones.
Get the best deals
Students can’t really get by in the modern world without broadband – but this costs, like anything else, so you need to ensure you get the best deal available. Student Broadband from Virgin Media will furnish you with a 9-month contract that can be used not just on your computer, but also your phone, tablet, console etc. Servicing and repairs are thrown in for free, too, so you can scarcely go wrong with this deal.
Get a student discount card
It would make little sense to be without one of these. You need to be a member of the NUS (and can you afford not to be?) and then you can acquire a card at a cost of £12. Thus armed, you can get discounts of between 10 per cent and 50 per cent (seriously) at high street favourites such as New Look and Superdrug as well as Odeon Cinemas and Amazon.
Get the best overdraft
You’ll always meet a smug fellow student who loftily announces they haven’t taken out an overdraft, but it won’t be long before they do: it’s practically an essential of student life. You need to find one without charges, ideally, and get the maximum amount you can – and preferably one that will last the entirety of your degree.
Downshift on food
The concept of ‘dropping down a brand’ then seeing if you really can taste the difference is something that’s really caught on. If you can’t, so the logic goes, then stick with the cheaper brand. You could even drop right down to the economy ranges, which, in truth, are in some cases (though certainly not all) as decent and tasty as the higher-priced versions. All you have to lose is your snobbery.
Don’t get a credit card or store cards
Despite what you might think, a credit card isn’t in any way essential for a student. While there persists an idea that they’re ‘good to have in an emergency’ you might find that the definition of ‘emergency’ suddenly and regularly stretches to include ‘night on the razz’ or ‘shopping spree up West.’ Store cards are worse – despite offering an initial discount to draw you in, they then go on to charge interest of up to 30 per cent. Avoid.
Save, save, save
There are other many and varied ways to pile up the cash and avoid getting into debts at all: use both the university and local libraries for much-needed texts; buy household items from charity shops; save all your shrapnel – both copper and silver – in a jar; look into council tax discounts; save on energy and water by switching of lights in all rooms but the one you’re in and switching off non-essential sockets when they’re not in use; don’t waste water if yours is metred and, finally and most obviously: get a part-time job.
By following even just a few of the above tips, you’ll soon see the difference in your finances. By following more and developing such things into habits, you might even end up . . . solvent.