September is here… If you’re a fresh-faced student starting out, you may be wondering how you can save some pennies. Let’s face it, nothing in this world comes cheap! Luckily, we’ve got some smart ways you can cut back and still live your best life.
1. Head to the supermarket in the evening
Eating well can be tough when you’re living off your student loan. One way to make sure that you get the best eats for your money is to shop in the evening. You’re hunting for those all-important yellow stickers here! If you head to the supermarket at around 7pm, you may find that there’s a higher chance of getting heavily reduced items.
It’s worth getting to know when each supermarket tends to reduce their fresh produce. If you have a few different options near your accommodation, go in regularly in the evening and figure out when the prime time is. That way, you will always be able to get a bargain.
2. Freeze your food shopping!
If you happen to luck out and get a load of reduced items, make sure that they don’t go to waste. Most of the time, you can freeze food items so long as they are within their Use By Date. For instance, if you come across a treasure trove of ready meals, you can pop them in the freezer and eat them whenever you’re in a rush. Simple.
3. Start using cashback sites
If you tend to buy things online, you need to start using cashback sites. These are exactly what they say on the tin—sites that give you money back each time that you spend. Examples of these sites include Topcashback and Quidco. Once you’ve signed up through the sites, you can start buying items (using a link to registered sellers). So long as you take the time to sign in through the site first, you should find that you get money back.
4. Always bring-your-own food and drink
Love eating and drinking? Yeah, don’t we all. Sadly, though, when it comes to eating out, you’re sure to end up paying a lot for the pleasure. When you’re a student, the chances are that you don’t have loads of money to spare. For that reason, you should try to avoid expensive meals and drinks out. They can be a real drain on your finances!
Instead, apply a BYO attitude to social events. If your friends want to meet for dinner, why not suggest a buffet? Get everyone to bring a dish and add it to the table. Equally, if they want to go for drinks, you could recommend having a few at someone’s place and everyone bringing a bottle. These small changes could make a big difference.
5. Save money on textbooks
On the first day of classes, get ready for a shock. The chances are that each of your tutors is about to give you a reading list as long as your arm. Spoiler: Textbooks don’t come cheap. Buying all of these books brand new will mean that you spend more than you expect. That’s why you need to be a little crafty.
One of the smartest ways to save money on textbooks is to buy them from previous students. Those in the year above you likely took the same classes last year. Now they are stuck with a bunch of books that they will never use again. Look on some student forums and Facebook to see whether anybody is selling these titles.
You can also look on Google Scholar to see whether your textbooks are available for free online. If they are, you won’t have to spend a penny on them! Win.
6. Attend university freshers fairs
While the first few weeks of uni may be a blur, there are some events that you don’t want to miss. Freshers fairs are a chance to get a whole load of freebies without putting in any effort. Wander around the stalls at these events and get your fill.
Pro tip: Make sure you take a close look to see what’s on offer. Some stall will have obvious freebies—such as pizza slices or free keyrings and pens. However, other giveaways and offers will be more hidden. Take all the flyers you can get. You may find that there are vouchers for free meals, money off at local places and more. Don’t miss out!
7. Binge on entertainment free trials!
Signing up to a streaming site may not be the smartest move when you’re on a budget. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to miss out. Both Amazon Prime and Netflix offer short-period free trials that you should take advantage of. If you’re in a flat full of people, you could take it in turns to get a trial of each service. That way, you can keep watching your favourite shows without it costing you an arm and a leg.
8. Avoid spending money on software
The modern-day student needs a whole load of software. Of course, you could easily splurge hundreds of pounds on pricey software packages to get you through your university years. Luckily, there is another way to go. Looking for alternative (free) versions of your favourite software means that you could save yourself a whole load of cash.
For example, rather than getting Microsoft Office, you could use Google Drive or an alternative like LibreOffice. If you happen to need photo editing software, on the other hand, you may want to look into Gimpshop, which is a free alternative to Photoshop.
9. Get cheaper haircuts
Spending over-the-odds on your hair? Why not volunteer to be a model for a hairdressing training school? When new hairdressers are learning their craft, they need real people to practice on. By volunteering to have your hair cut by a trainee, you can make sure that you save yourself the majority of the cost. Of course, you should be aware that trainees tend to take longer to get the job done… so this idea isn’t the best when you’re in a hurry.
10. Flash your student card!
There’s no shame in asking for a discount. Whether you’re out for dinner, at the supermarket or in a high street shop, get ready to flash your student ID card. Many shops and eateries offer a small money-off deal but may not advertise it everywhere. Simply taking a moment to ask whether you can get a discount could save you some pennies.