Yes, it is possible to save money even on a student budget.
In fact, it can even be fun too! I personally am going through these ‘easy ways to save money’ and still having a blast. Read on to find out what those are…
1. Attend university for free
Yes, it’s possible. In fact I wrote an entire post about it: Yes, you can go to university for free.
Your options include: grants, bursaries and scholarships, the NHS, Armed Forces, sponsorships, apprenticeships, crowdfunding and traveling abroad.
Not paying for university surprisingly does save a lot of money.
Check out the post fam.
2. House hack
Rent is takes a big chunk of your income every month. Many students just accept their fate and believe it’s part of the deal – gotta pay for rent. But what if you got to keep that £400 that disappears every month?
House hacking is possible: live with your parents, live with a roommate, get a flat and Airbnb the hell out of it, do some property investing or just go live in a tent like this guy.
It requires hustle and research, but it’s doable.
3. Become a minimalist
As the word itself says, learn to live with less. The less money you spend on stuff, the more money you get to save. It’s a simple idea really, and practicing it is strangely refreshing. To quote The Minimalists: Imagine living with less so you could have more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth.
Not only will you save a ton of money, but you won’t be falling trap of the consumer society; always buying and buying and consuming more to fill the empty void inside you. Ask yourself: does buying x really add value to my life? If it doesn’t, why are you buying it, really? And if that answer scares you, it’s time for a change.
4. Cook your own food
You would think this is obvious but many people including students simply don’t cook their own food! Eating out several times a week is EXPENSIVE. Takeaway is EXPENSIVE. There’s no point. Plus cooking your own food makes you better at cooking and even makes the food more delicious (yes hello this is my ratatouille and it is delicious).
Keep the restaurants and takeaways for special occasions. The more you eat out the less you appreciate it that event of having someone else prepare and lay it out in front of you. Going to a restaurant is a huge event for me nowadays – and now I enjoy it ten times more.
5. Do a ton of discounting
There are a lot of discounts out there for students. A LOT. You just gotta find them. Here is a list of cool stuff you can get student discount on. Get all the railcards and student cards, you never know when they can come in handy.
Look around when you’re on the streets or out shopping. There might be a student sale or some sweet discount out there. And don’t be ashamed to ask the barman whether they do student discounts – we’re all trying to survive here.
6. Hack your loan: start investing
Maybe a little more advanced but a great way to save and hack your money. Following the 15% rule, use the loan money to invest. The minute you receive your loan money, send off a percentage to get invested. Not only will you be saving money, but the interest means you’ll be earning more money on the side! I’m telling you – this is loan hacking. Here’s a guide to getting started with investing.
7. Set a budget every time you go out
Yes, your friends might make fun of you and call you a loser but no worries – you’ll be the one graduating with money in your pockets.
But seriously, set a budget. Take only cash, if that works for you. Use an app, do your thing. Learn to control yo’self. Here’s a snazzy guide to budgeting.
8. Compare all your bills: gym, phone, software etc
Take all your ‘mandatory expenses’ and try to decrease them. Your phone bill, the gym, that software, maybe even gas and electricity. Try and find someone else who does it for cheaper. Spend an afternoon on it and then forget about it – you could save hundreds in the long run.
9. Work towards achieving that 15% rule
The golden 15% rule: actively saving 15% of your income (from loan, parents, etc) every month. Here’s an entire article on how to get started.
This 15% rule is what will get you ‘out the rat race’ and will literally change your life.
Check out the post fam.
10. Do some savings challenges: no spend day, cash challenge, etc
There are tons of random savings challenges out there: no spend day, cash challenge, 33 items challenge. Try some and see how it goes. Here are 6 Different Money Saving Challenges you can try out.
Once you try a few of them, you can pick one and keep going. Make up your own challenge: how much money I can save doing saving challenges. Maybe a little nerdy, but useful in the long run.
11. Use savings apps
Just like the savings challenges, these apps will encourage you to save ‘by accident’. They use tactics such as rounding up a purchase: you spend £2.50 on a coffee and the app rounds it up to £3.00 and saves you £0.50. Or it just randomly takes out some money at odd times of the day/week.
12. Do NOT buy the next cool gadget
Still not a minimalist? That’s fine, but there’s still no point in consuming for the sake of consuming. If your phone is working perfectly fine and the next version comes out – how about not buying it? Remember, will it really add value to your life? Probably not, and if you think about it will probably remove value since your pockets will be a little lighter.
13. Buy stuff second hand
The UK is one of the few places which is really good at this: second hand stuff. There are charities littered all over the streets and you can find a few gems here and there. You find stuff online too with our good friends Gumtree and Craigslist. Think about it, do I really need this thing to be brand new? If not, go do some second-hand shopping. You’d be surprised with what you can find…
14. Make sure your employer doesn’t make you pay tax
If you earn under £11,500 a year, you don’t need to pay tax. If you do, you pay 20%. When working at a part time job, it’s unlikely you’ll be earning more than your allowance, however your employer is still likely to put you under the PAYE scheme. Normally, the HMRC will send you a tax refund called P800. But if you want to claim it now, you can do so using a P50 form. Some nice quick and easy money.
15. Flat parties instead of going out
Going out in the UK is expensive, especially if you live in the area of London (I don’t know how you people survive). How about doing a flat party/drinks instead? With my group of friends we regularly do poker nights, board game drinking nights and even some home-cooking and chilling.
There are tons of ways to have fun without going out. Yes, I sound like a boring old trout, but it’s totally true. And if you’re friends are only interested in having fun when their ££ is flying away, look for some different friends who’ll chill at home with you. Trust me, they’re the cool ones.
16. No book buying
Google Scholar and Google Books can be your saviour for both research and text books. All the stuff the uni makes you pay for – how about getting it for free? And if Google Scholar and Books don’t have what you’re looking for, ask someone else at uni if you can buy their book second hand. Or… jump onto Gumtree or Craigslist. Doing a bit of hustling and finding cheaper textbooks can go a long way.
17. Find free stuff and use it
Students are known to be good at getting free stuff. Save the Student has an awesome list of free stuff you can take advantage of as a student.
Other places to get free stuff are: Fresher’s and societies fairs, student gigs, only using free trial (Spotify here I come), using the Gumtree ‘for free’ section, attending launch days (a supermarket, cinema, shop opening up), and cashback apps.
18. Learn to travel hack
Travel hacking is the ultimate key to traveling for cheap and making it enjoyable at the same time. It doesn’t mean trying to cut every single penny and starving yourself all day, it’s simply being clever with your money: cooking at the hostel instead of eating out, not buying useless souvenirs, doing your research before taking public transport, etc.
After 2 years of traveling on a tight budget, I believe I mastered it using apps such as Couchsurfing, Ryanair and GoEuro. For more info on how to travel hack, I wrote a snazzy guide on mastering the art of budget travel.
So – 18 ways to save money as a college student. Some are easier than others, but they’re all doable. And the result could be hundreds or even thousands of pounds saved up! What could you do with an extra £1,000 a year? You could invest it, build an emergency fund, save up for a nice trip, or even get started on your path to Financial Independence. The possibilities are infinite, and you get to choose what happens with them.