Take a look at these hints and tips and see if you can save some money…
Check your online banking and statements regularly
The first step to getting on top of your finances and saving some money is getting into the habit of checking your bank statements regularly. It can be so easy to buy things throughout the week and not realise how much your outgoings add up to! It’s also really useful to get to see if you are buying anything unnecessary, so check your spending regularly and get to know your money habits.
Make a budget
Once you’ve got an idea of your money habits and what kind of things you like to spend your money on, it’s really useful to give yourself a weekly or monthly budget. Once you have an idea of your income, your outcome and the money that’s left over at the end, you can decide how much you want to spend and treat yourself, as well as how much you want to put aside and save up. This template will get you started on making your own budget.
Think about your accommodation wisely
Aside from your tuition fees, your accommodation will be one of your biggest expenses during your time at university, so it’s worth thinking about where you want to live and how much it will cost you. Explore all the options that may work for you (such as university halls, private accommodation or commuting from home) and work out which will be the cheapest. If you are moving into rented accommodation with other students, try and negotiate something that will work for everyone (for example, if you wanted to pay less and your housemate wanted a larger room, then you could pay less than your housemate as they have a larger space). Make sure you talk with your housemates about how close you want to live to the University, as well as how nice you want your house to be, as both the proximity and quality of your accommodation will affect the price.
Take the time to sort out your bills and your TV licence
Sorting out the bills and opening accounts with electric, water and internet providers is probably one of the least enjoyable parts of moving into shared accommodation. However, this is not something to be glossed over and should be taken seriously as you will save so much money by getting the cheapest deals. Ensure that you look around and ring up different providers or look out on handy comparison websites to find out what different companies can offer you. Another important factor to discuss with your housemates is whether you want to purchase a TV licence. If you simply stick to DVDs and Netflix then give it a miss, as you will be wasting money. However, if you watch any live TV or enjoying watching iPlayer then definitely get the licence, as you could be sent a heavy fine without one!
Get student funding
You may not realise it, but you could qualify for student funding! There are plenty of bursaries, scholarships and grants which can give you many financial gains, whether this be from your academic department, an external body or the university itself. Take a look at all of the University of Reading Bursaries and Awards here. Try and see if you’re eligible for Disabled Students’ Allowance, a travel grant or a hardship fund. Most student funding have a simple application process, which are often easy to complete online. Find out more here.
Know where and how you can get student discounts
There are so many discounts out there that can save you money on everyday purchases. One of the easiest ways to get discounts is to purchase an NUS card, which can give you discounts in some clothes stores, cinemas and restaurants. Get one today from the NUS website and also find all of the places you can use this card. You can also apply for a Young Persons Railcard, if you are aged between 16 and 25 or if you are in full-time study. This will give you a 1/3 off Standard Anytime, Off-Peak, Advance and First Class Advance fares for just £30 a year, so if you travel by train frequently then you can easily make a saving. Finally, if you like to do a lot of online shopping, then you might want to consider getting an Amazon Prime Account. For a small monthly fee you can have free postage on Amazon Prime items, and can also give you exclusive access to movies, music and TV shows!
Have at least one ‘no-spend’ day a week
We all love the convenience of being able to buy food and drink on-campus, but if you’re buying your lunch and numerous coffees on campus every day, it will slowly but surely eat away at your pocket. An easy way to get around this is to have a ‘no-spend’ day once a week. Try and walk to campus instead of getting the bus, bring your own packed lunch to campus and bring your own hot drink in a flask for your morning lecture. These simple things will help reduce your frequent spending habits and help save you a small lump sum over a few weeks which you can then spend as a treat or save for a rainy day.
Shop smart and cook together
If you think that you’re spending too much on food then there are some easy ways that you can reduce costs. By going to the shops at certain times on specific days, you can find that many of your favourite foods are reduced as they are nearing their expiry date (Sunday afternoons just before closing is usually a good time). Any food is still perfectly safe to eat before their ‘Use By’ date so explore the reduced section thoroughly and then plan your meals accordingly. A good idea cook is to a meal for all your housemates, so take them with you and see what you would all like to eat. By eating together, you will be able to eat a nutritious meal for less, and it’s also a sociable way to eat too!