How to save money as a student

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It might sound boring, but thinking about how to save money as a student is important! 

As a student, you'll probably have your maintenance loan, maybe some savings from a holiday job, or maybe you’ll pick up a part-time job around your studies. Regardless of how you get your money, you’re likely to be doing grown up things like paying rent, bills and buying groceries for the first time in your life.

So we've put together a guide on how you can start saving money as a student:

1. Create a budget

First off, you need to understand your income and outgoings. ‘Income’ simply means any money you receive, while ‘outgoings’ means any money you spend.

As a student, your income might include:

  • Maintenance loan (usually paid at the start of each term)

  • Grants, bursaries, sponsorships or scholarships

  • Money from your parents or other family

  • Salary from a part-time job

  • Savings you plan to use while at university (like earnings from a summer job)

Your outgoings are likely to include:

  • Rent (including upfront costs like a tenancy deposit)

  • Household bills (e.g. water, energy and internet)

  • A mobile phone contract

  • Food and drink

  • Travel

  • Coursebooks

  • Entertainment (e.g. going out with your friends)

  • Personal care (e.g. haircuts)

  • Clothes

  • One-off expenses (e.g. Christmas presents)

Once you’ve worked out your income and outgoings, it’s important to check that your income covers your outgoings (and to readjust this if it doesn’t!).

You can put whatever you have left into savings and see if you can limit some of your outgoings if you’re looking to save more. Here’s more on how to create a budget (and actually stick to it!).

If you’re looking for an easy way to start budgeting, download Monzo.

 2. Try to cut costs at uni

Can’t get your budget to balance? We’ve got some useful tips to help you save:

  • Shop around for the cheapest energy tariffs, phone contracts and accommodation

  • Use sites like mySupermarket to find cheaper groceries

  • Do grocery shopping in the evening when food is often discounted

  • Use store loyalty cards and coupons

  • Look out for free events and group deals

  • Get a railcard to save a third on train tickets

  • Get cheaper train tickets and flights by booking early

  • Make full use of student discounts (see more on this below!)

  • Buy coursebooks second-hand

  • Browse for free household items in your area

  • Instead of shopping, organise a clothes swap with friends

3. How to earn cash at uni

Want to boost your income? Here are some ideas for earning while you’re learning:

  • Get a part-time job at a shop, restaurant or bar (all the better if you can get tips)

  • Participate in market research, user testing, online surveys or mystery shopping

  • Work at a summer camp during the holidays

  • Advertise as a pet or baby sitter

  • Got loads of followers? Ask companies to pay you for promoting their products on social media

  • Find freelance work (such as writing or designing) on sites like Fiverr and Upwork

  • Sell your second-hand books

  • Sell second-hand items on eBay or homemade stuff on Etsy

4. Open a savings account

If you have money left over in your account after budgeting, it can be a good idea to put this money in a savings account so you can earn interest on it and watch it grow. 

Monzo offers a few different types of savings accounts with competitive interest rates, automated savings challenges and roundups. You’ll also get all the protection that comes with being a fully regulated UK bank. 

Find out more about saving with Monzo here.

5. Make the most of student discounts 

Student-discount site Unidays is free to use and gives a wide range of discounts. It's worth registering on Unidays with your student ID so you can start getting discounts on Topshop, Asos, Urban Outfitters, gym memberships and more! See the Unidays website for a full list.

6. Use overdrafts sparingly 

If you have an overdraft, you should try and use it sparingly. 

Monzo offers one of up to £3,000, and we charge an EAR of 19%, 29% or 39% (variable)

Your rate will depend on your credit score, and we’ll always tell you the exact rate you’ll pay, and what that means in pounds, before you borrow from us. We notify you before you go into your overdraft and so you won’t end up dipping into it by accident!

Find out more about Monzo and overdrafts!

7. Be wary of signing up to things at freshers’ fair that you have to pay for on the spot

Going to your first freshers’ fair can be one of the best moments of uni. You have the chance to get involved in a vast array of activities you’d never thought of doing. 

But it’s easy to get over-zealous, and sign your name up to a whole bunch of societies that you’ll never have the time to fully commit to. Sure, being on their mailing list for three years is annoying – but at least it doesn’t cost you anything. Definitely don’t stump up a deposit for a club with a ‘limited number of memberships’ either - make sure you really want to do it before parting with your cash. 

Finally, don’t be swayed into signing up to a lengthy magazine subscription because you’ll get a free pair of earphones. Maybe see how many consecutive weeks you actually go to a newsagents and buy the new issue before committing to having a whole bunch of cellophane-wrapped mags lying by your front door for the rest of the year.

Other tips for sticking to your budget

Budgets can be quickly forgotten on a night out or in the middle of exams. So we’ve put together some useful ideas for staying within your allowance:

  • Put what you can afford to spend in your account when you’re going out – Before a night out, move everything but the money you can afford to spend into a Pot to help you stay within budget (even after a few drinks!)

  • Plan your meals and do a big grocery shop at the start of the week or month. This can help you avoid frittering money away on food without realising it.

  • Put money aside for essentials (in a pot) so you’re less tempted to spend it on things you don’t need.

  • Say ‘no’ sometimes. It’s important to have fun at university, but that doesn’t mean you have to do everything right now!

  • Consider the consequences of overspending – whether that’s living on noodles for a month, or being kicked out of accommodation for missing rent.

  • If you’re not sure whether to treat yourself, wait a few weeks. If you still want it and can afford it, then go ahead.

Download Monzo to start saving for the things that matter. Find out more about saving with Monzo here!💰