Saving money can be easy whilst you are a postgrad student at university because believe it or not students are targeted more than any other group when it comes to deals, offers and loyalty schemes. And although a 10% off voucher may seem small, these small savings really do add up over a year of student spending. But it will take more than just a voucher to maximise your savings so here are five areas you could look at very easily.
Why changing your habits and combining that with apps and loyalty schemes can turbocharge savings and rewards.
1. Budget, budget, budget!
Yes I know that sounds dull, dull, dull. However, budgeting can be easier than you think using apps like quidco.com, mint.com and topcashback.com to name just three sites that aim to help you shave off pennies at every swipe of that lovely debit or credit card. Mint.com automatically allots each purchase you make into categories and gives you graphs so you can see just how much of your money is going on fast food, travel, or coffee etc. This is invaluable because every time you decide to grab a burger, that graph will haunt you and you may just decide that financial peace of mind is more important than the temporary and regrettable relief of fast food. Mint.com also comes with a bill alert system so you can keep track of those nasty direct debits and avoid overdraft charges (which hurt your credit score, article on credit scoring coming next week). If you want general budgeting advice then you can download the 'bank workers charity' budgeting guide for students and browse other great sites like the money advice service.
2. Look Out For Offers
Ok, its November right now but even so you can still jump on the Freshers' bandwagon as many Freshers' offers extend right through until December as retailers know you have more important things to sort out in your first few weeks like studying and drinking (you choose which comes first. And don’t forget that now so many universities are promoting January start dates for postgrads, Freshers’ Week can now be in January too. You can access free stuff and free events where food and drinks are free and basically eat for nothing for your first month or so at university, so keep your eyes open and your hands receptive to leaflets that are thrown at you (if they are unsuitable, the worst is that you throw them in the recycling bin). Also, when you are a student there are some great loyalty schemes such as Tesco Clubcard or the Nectar points card.
Travel can get pricey at university as many campuses are either out of town, or in a city centre where you need to use public transport daily. This can cost over £1,000 per year in cities like London, so buying a bike is a wise investment as it bypasses this cost and helps you to keep fit. You can buy a decent bike for £50-£100 on auction sites like eBay, you can choose to rent a bike as there are schemes on most campuses. The Leeds Beckett University Bike hire scheme is a great example where you can rent bikes for the year or for a term for very little cost. Cycling is better for the environment too so you can save money and be green whilst also improving your fitness, you know it makes sense!
4. Food and Drink
Eating and cooking can be costly if you don’t economise. Bulk is the way to go and to do this try working with housemates or dorm mates on a food plan can help you all save money and time by sharing cooking/shopping trips. It’s also a great way to foster new friendships. If you cant convince them to help then make sure you are planning your weekly meals. Have a look at eatingonabudget.co.uk for inspiration. Eating healthy food is actually cheap, you just have to plan ahead so you don’t waste your freshly bought produce.
5. Scholarships and Bursaries
There is only so much money you can save by economizing, so if you are yet to go to university then it’s worth looking into scholarships and bursaries that in some cases could completely cover the cost of your degree. Discuss the various options and criteria that you need to get them and see if you can work on improving your chances. Are you working or volunteering in your chosen field (this can help your Scholarship application immensely). If that’s not an option, can you fit in some paid work while at university? Do it the smart way by registering early. Most universities have part time work on offer for students, so get proactive and ask them.
If all else fails, don’t panic. Just try and make one change a week that could save you a few pounds and eventually you will find you have more money at the end of every month. Saving and budgeting is very much a learning curve, but you can help yourself by at least trying one or two of the money saving ideas mentioned above.