How to survive when you’re a student; tips on spending less and getting more for your money

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Going to university is an exciting time, but it’s not without its challenges. Find out how to survive when you’re a student with some money saving tips for students.

Getting your student loan payment – don’t get too excited!
Many students say they feel rich when they first get their hands on their student loan payment. It’s probably the largest sum of money they’ve ever handled, so if you’re a student or the parent of one, you may have your work cut out trying to convince yourself (or them) about the merits of budgeting.

Set a budget

Budgeting may seem very sensible and grown up, but it just means you make a note of what you have coming in and what you need to spend on the essentials. Once you know what, you can work out how much you have left over for the luxuries.

Several websites have online budgets and there are budgeting apps. You can read more about budgeting in my article called How to draw up a budget.

Parental gifts and ‘the money conversation’

Many parents give their children money to help them through university. It will help them to plan their spending if you give them a set amount regularly, rather than bailing them out every so often. Perhaps you could agree to pay a specific cost up to a certain limit? Work out something so you son or daughter won’t feel like they have to account to you for every penny, but so you’re not writing a blank cheque.

SAVVY TIP: It’s definitely worth having a money conversation with your son or daughter before they have to make decisions for themselves. They may choose to ignore you, but some students complain that while their parents talked to them about sex and drugs, money remained a taboo.

Bank accounts
Banks normally offer all kinds of goodies to tempt students to sign up. Some are well worth having, others may not be. It’s the size of the interest-free overdraft that’s important. Student life is tough enough without paying interest when they’re overdrawn.

This year, a number of banks are offering a flat rate of overdraft (which stays the same throughout university), while others have tiered overdraft levels, which increase. Most price comparison websites have tables with details of student accounts. You can find out about The best student bank accounts for 2016-17 in my article.

SAVVY TIP: Students don’t need to wait until they go to university to open a student bank account. They just need their UCAS confirmation letter or a letter from their university telling them they’re being offered a place.

Your own household insurance policy may cover your son or daughter while they’re at university, which means they won’t have to pay for a separate policy.

  • Be aware that some insurers will charge for this. Check how much extra you will have to pay. Others offer this cover for free but the insurer may have pretty low limits – between £2,500 and £5,000 – on contents they’ll cover in a student flat or house.
  • Check the security information. Many policies won’t allow a claim if something’s stolen from a student room if it doesn’t have a lock on it. Endsleigh insurance is one company to sell student room insurance.

Save money, make money
The NUS sells a discount card for £12 a year (called NUS Extra) which gives cardholders access to a wide range of discounts from national chains. However, it’s worth knowing that some shops will give all students a discount if they have a student ID card (which they can get free of charge). In the current climate, it’s definitely worth asking for money off.

SAVVY TIP: Sites like Savethestudent have lots of money making and saving ideas. Websites such as StudentMoneySaver  also have discounts for students as does UniDays. There are also non-student targeted websites such as Moneysavingexpert and voucher and cashback websites.

Related articles:

University scholarships in the UK

Parental help for students – what’s the best way to help your child at uni?

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