Swot up on student discounts
The matriculation card you’ll get from your college or uni will often earn you discounts in and around the local area, but some places will only accept a card with the NUS logo on it. (Not all universities are members of the NUS.) Ask around during Freshers’ week and – if that seems to be the case – you might want to get yourself an NUS Extra card (opens in a new window).
The card costs £12 a year (or £22 for a two-year card, £32 for a three-year card) and lets you claim over 200 discounts (opens in a new window) including 10% off most groceries at Co-operative Food and 25% off Odeon student-priced tickets. There’s an app too, so you can search and plan where to get the best deals.
It could save you a lot, but make sure you live near and will actually use the stores on the discount list. For example, if you only ever use it in the Co-op, you’d need to spend over £120 a year to make the investment worthwhile.
Get savvy about shelf life
Many students become stealth-like in their skill to spot a mark-down label in supermarkets, but it still relies on being in the right place at the right time.
Cue The Approved Food website (opens in a new window). It sells a wide range of things that are close to or just past the best before date, but is still safe to use. In short, they buy the stuff in bulk and sell it on at mark-down prices. The website savethestudent.org claims to have bought £90 worth of food for just £35 (opens in a new window) – that’s a fairly tasty saving.
Are your contents already covered?
If you’re moving away from home, chances are you’ll be taking your technology with you. (Tech you’ll really want to be insured.) There are lots of student insurance policies out there, but - if you still live with your folks outside of term time - your stuff may be covered (opens in a new window) by their home contents insurance under the ‘contents away from home’ clause.
First of all, check with your parents that they’re happy for you to ‘share’ their policy with you (if you do have to claim it’ll likely increase their premiums). If they’re fine with it, give the insurance company a call and make sure your things will definitely be covered and up to how much value.
If you’re not convinced the ‘contents away from home’ cover is enough, you’ll find plenty of affordable policies. Just don’t chance it, or you might end up writing your term papers the old-fashioned way.
Get cash clever
You might have heard this one before, but it really is one of the best ways to avoid going a bit daft with your money on nights out. Instead of taking your bank card out, decide how much you can really afford to spend and only take that much cash with you.
It may seem a bit boring, but it’ll save you the pain of waking up to all those receipts for expensive drinks and late-night takeaway food. Just remember, if you’ll need a taxi home, keep the fare amount in a separate pocket or part of your purse.
Be brainy with budgeting
Wait, don’t leave just yet! Yes, OK, budgeting sounds about as interesting as watching emulsion dry, but it really doesn’t have to be all that dull. For one thing, having enough money left at the end of a month or term feels pretty good. Great even. Secondly, forget mind-numbing spreadsheets – there are loads of apps available that let you set up and manage budgets in just a few taps. Yes, the B app is one of them , but this isn’t an out-and-out plug - other apps are available (opens in a new window). Believe us, if you can get a handle on your cash while you’re still at Uni, you’ll be leagues ahead when you start earning a salary.
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