It's no lie that being a student is expensive work. Trust me...I'm approaching my 5th and final year (cries inside) of being student and my bank account does not thank me for it. Anyway, being an eternal student has taught me a few things when it comes to money;
- How to budget it.
- How to live within your means.
- How to really make the most out of what you have.
Now, being the generous soul that I am (not with money coincidently- with advice), I have compiled a quick, useful and handy guide that can help you do all of the previously mentioned 3 things and save a bit of cash here and there- which you can then stretch even further!
(1) Know your discounts
No matter how much money you have or don't have, it always stings hard when you could have bought the same thing for less money. Multiple companies offer student discounts across a large range of products, and they're normally pretty big companies too.
Now, the key to knowing your online discounts is half as much actually knowing as it is knowing where to look.
Luckily, with UNiDAYS you can find all your discounts in one place, so you don't really have go searching and checking every site you go on.
The registration is simple, as all you really need to do is register with your student email which you'll have handy anyway.
With some epic discounts on everything from technology- (student essentials) and clothing (another essential) to food (the most essential), UNiDAYS has all the (guess what) essential discounts in one place. My personal favourite is 50% off Spotify Premium which I definitely get my out of, so go on check out what discounts work for you!
If that fails, Student Beans is also a great shout- offering similar discounts, just on different (sometimes lesser known) companies, it is really worth having a subscription to both.
(2) Don't be scared to bargain hunt
This one just sounds like pure common sense; I'm fully aware. However, be warned there is an art to it though...
My best and most student-esque piece of advice is supermarket searching. Something a lot of people will be disgusted at, but you gotta do what you gotta do, and there is nothing disgusting about it to be quite honest.
Going to the reduced aisle of a supermarket you can find products that are slight misshapen, 1 day before said-expiry date or on their expiry date. If you're making a meal for that day or just want an in-the-minute munch, this is a great stop and a great way to save money. Not to mention, it's good for the environment too and cuts down on food waste.
In my earlier student days, I would buy something from this aisle and make a meal around it. It really helped me get creative with my cooking, made me try new things, saved me money and reduced my carbon footprint. So, why not give it ago? It really pays off (haha! get it?).
These get a really bad wrap, but are you really going to pay €1 more for the same product just to say that you bought it from a better quality or better-known supermarket? Well I tell you one thing, I'm not.
Discount stores are the best and although their stocklists aren't as consistent, and it's probably not the most ideal place to do your weekly shop, you can get some really good deals on some great, branded munchies.
(3) Who's the FAIRest of them all?
Now one thing I know for sure is that companies want your business just as much as you want a discount on their products, and they're willing to just literally hand it to students.
Universities have been known to hold events for newbie and veteran (like myself) students alike where multiple local and national companies will come together and hold stalls offering their discounts, freebies and promotions.
These are often known as freshers' fairs and trust me, don't buy any stationary for university before attending this, because you'll regret that unnecessary expense later.
(4) Wave that student card in the air like you just don't care
When you start uni, you get given your student card for library entry, examination identification....and of course just to get the epic discounts available. So, whenever you go to a shop and buy a new garment, a meal or even a sarnie, there is really no harm in ever asking if they accept student discount... after all, the worst they can say is no.
ESN (Erasmus Student Network) is an international organisation for international students doing Erasmus. Most universities that are big on Erasmus (or receive a large amount of students as a result of the programme) have an office or at least a society or staff member on campus. These organisations often run trips for foreign students flooded with cultural and fun activities for low prices. So, if you are studying abroad and want a good, fun time whilst seeing the country, it's definitely worth checking out.
Additionally, you can also get an ESN card which will give you exclusive discounts on travel, accommodation and all sorts whilst you're away- really worth having!
NUS (National Union of Students) is a UK organisation and campaign for further education in the UK, also home of student discounts. You can buy the card for £12 which will give you exclusive discounts in person and online.
(5) Sign up, sign up and sign up some more
Receiving annoying emails with a promotion every 5 minutes can be nothing short of frustrating- I can definitely vouch. However, by signing up to email lists for companies and services that you actually use, you can really save some money.
A lot of companies also run loyalty schemes as well, so grabbing a card or a loyalty stamp card can really benefit you at the end of the day, even if it does way your purse down a little bit, being loyal really does pay off- quite literally.
Another great way to find exclusive discounts in your area is through Groupon. This is not exclusive to students at all, but whilst we're talking about discounts and all things deals it doesn't hurt to mention.
I honestly swear the amount of times that Groupon has saved me money (and my life) is unreal. All you have to do is enter your email address and your residing location, and Groupon will email you with great local discounts on products, events and services that you may be interested in.
After something specific? No worries, you can just type it into their website and see what magical money-saving wonders you can find.
(6) Sharing is caring
We all know that the best things come in twos, and normally when buying food this is no exception, and it is usually cheaper to buy things in bigger packs or in bulk. So, why not split the cost and cook with a friend? This way you can really take advantage of big offers, save some money and have a bit more of a varied diet. It can also be great for your social life, and if you live near or with your friends, it's really no effort at all.
Only room for one?
You needn't worry. One of my favourite student chefs, who really can help you cook on a budget is Miguel Barclay and his revolutionary £1 meals, which really defined my final year cuisine. Miguel compiles recipes that in theory only cost a pound (UK currency) and his recipes go by portions for one, so you can expand it based on how much you have of every ingredient available.
(7) Need a (second-) hand?
Now, being a student in the name is a synonym for making sacrifices when it comes to little luxuries sometimes, (which you can surely reinstate when you graduate and have a job). However, it doesn't have to be that way, and you don't have to miss out entirely and the world of second-hard riches could really help you get more for you money. Not only that, but you can also use the following tools to sell on things you don't use anymore and make a bit of extra cash.
Depop or Ebay
Depop is like the young person's Ebay that is more or less specifically for clothing. Both Depop and Ebay are great places to shop and set up shop if you want to make a pretty penny or even just switch up your style a little bit without breaking the bank.
The activity is regulated and the goodies come straight to your front door, so in theory it's really shopping made easier and funner
Wallapop or Gumtree
Wallapop and Gumtree are great places to hunt for and sell second hand goodies that aren't clothing. Here you can bag some great bargains or really just have an easy sale. I got my current phone (brand new condition) for an absolute steal off Wallapop (approx €300 off retail price), and I haven't looked back since, so it gets the thumbs up from me.
Keep your eyes peeled too, a lot of people post to give things away for literally next to nothing or for free, just as long as you pick it up from them. A match made in heaven.
Nowadays it's super trendy to wear hipster, retro themed clothing that came from other eras, and a lot of high-street and high-fashion designers make clothes inspired to look like them came from these glorious decades. So, instead of going to the mall and buying a £40 shoulder padded blouse, why not go to the source and get an authentic one for a sliver of the price?
Charity shops house no-longer-wanted clothing and belongings for an absolute steal, as they run off donations and are making money for charity. They really take the saying one man's trash is another's treasure to the next level and along with saving money and updating your wardrobe, you'll actually be putting it to a good cause.
Now this is all the rage right now. Swishing is the swapping of clothing with friends or acquaintances. The transactions between the swishers take place based on a mutual desire to swap. This is growing trend, and events can most likely be found in your area.
The idea and realisation of swishing is great for the environment, closet cleaning, saving money and for the soul.
(8) Price before you go out
One of the greatest godsends amongst students of the 21st century. The drinks before the drinks- honestly who comes up with this stuff? Not only does it extend drinking time, which is always fun, but it saves a lot of money if you can do it at home or someone else's house. With a very much bring your own bottle policy, you can really save a lot of money opposed to having to buy and drink as you go in bars.
Cheers to that!
Additional grubby studenty memo- if you host predrinks, you normally get the remnants of any alcohol that your friends didn't consume, great for next time!
Despite everything, Facebook is good for cheaper entry into clubs.
Event organisers want to know if, when and who is coming to their events, and they want to know so bad that they're even willing to offer discounts to get your presence secured and get you in early. So, find the event, the place and the time on Facebook and get your name on the guestlist!
Take a set amount out
This is my number 1 life-saving trick for a night out. After a few drinks we are all guilty of becoming very grateful, jolly and generous. So much so in my case I am partial to buying multiple drinks for friends and tap-tap-tapping my contactless out of existence (massive over exaggeration, but you get the point). If this sounds familiar, then you should definitely keep reading.
Withdraw a set amount of cash, and let that take you through the night. If you have planned your night or are with a group of friends, you should really be able to predict how much you're going to need, then take a little bit more just in case. This way, you won't end up with a gruesome bank statement, a killer headache and suitcase worth of regrets.
This also will ring clear as common sense to a lot of people and is the best solution not just in terms of saving money but actually regarding safety too.
Having a clear plan on how you're going to get home after a night out means that you won't be facing a ghastly taxi fare alone, nor are you likely to taken a fool of or via an extensive route.
Most taxi apps now (uber namely being one) allow you to fare split with another account, so you don't even have to worry about dividing the cash or chasing people round to collect your debts.
(9) Don't worry be 'APP-y
Technology is a milenial's best friend. I mean quite literally, there is an app for everything now, and this is no exception when it comes to budgeting.
Monzo is an online banking app that is the most ideal for budgeting. Signing up is relatively easy and you can do so through the app. Within a few days or weeks, you will receive a cheerful pink card that you can load money onto from your bank account.
The beauty of the app is that it sends you a notification every time you send, make or receive a payment that also totals up your daily spending. So, not only does it make you more aware of what you spend your money on, but it also helps you save and control your money.
Monzo is also great for if you are travelling and works as a two in one as a travel card giving you great rates when you go around and no rubbish withdrawal and bank fees. It's a winner all round.
If you're just looking to track your finances and nothing else, Wally is the one for you. Wally allows you to ingress all your daily expenses to help yourself budget and have a clearer idea of your outcomes.
So, if you're like me and prone to fritter your cash all over the place (my weakness is uni library coffee), you can really stop yourself before you end up spending too much on something unnecessary (unless it's coffee- that's always necessary.)
(10) Transport yourself to another dimension
Transport is also another classic all-money-consuming nuisance. However, when living in student land, this needn't be the case. Many cities and a lot of transport companies that play a key role in your university city have exclusive discounts for young people and students.
If you're studying in London you can get a oyster photocard which will give you 30% off travel tariffs on Transport for London services.
The same also applies in Paris and you can get a yearly pass way cheaper than the normal rate.
In Madrid, residents under 26 can also have unlimited travel for €20 a month.
Not only does this kind of option give you the freedom to travel as and when you want, but it also will save you a lot of money and time and stress from counting the pennies every time you need to go somewhere.- It really is a win, win! So, check out the main transport provider for your area, and see what sweet discounts students can get near you!
So, you see being a student needn't result in grand sacrifices nor getting yourself into loads of debt, as there are plenty of great discounts out there just waiting to be discovered. So you needn't be saying...