Studying at university can get expensive. You might be living away from home for the first time in your life and you’ll likely have to spend money on things that previously were bought for you. On top of the compulsory expenses like food, you’ll probably want to go out and have fun as well. So how to save enough money for it all?
In this article we’ve compiled a massive list of 100 ways to save money as a student. It might not all work for everyone, but check it out and pick the ones that you think will work for you!
1. Make a budget
One of the most important aspects of staying on top of your finances is to have a plan. You’ll need to know what’s coming in and what’s going out. You can’t always plan every expense ahead of time of course, but it’s important to have a general plan of what your finances look like.
2. Keep track of your spending as it happens
There are many apps that let you easily track your spending. It’s a good idea to go for one where you can see your spending by category. This way you’ll know what you’re spending money on, and it’s easy to spot areas where you might be spending too much.
3. Get the best deal for your bank account
Banks usually offer good deals and terms to students. Shop around to find the best deal for you.
4. Pay with cash
It’s been found that many people spend less money when they have to physically handle it. Especially when you’re going out, it can be really easy to just put everything on your card, and you end up spending much more than you might realise. Pay with cash and you’ll have a better understanding of how much you’re spending.
5. Put aside and save £1 (or dollar or euro etc.) every day
This shouldn’t be too hard to do and at the end of the year you’ll have saved £365.
6. Check if you’re covered by your parents’ home insurance
If you’re covered by your parents’ insurance, you won’t have to buy your own. You might be covered if your parents’ home is your permanent address, even if you don’t live there during semesters.
7. Don’t pay to withdraw cash
Banks often charge you for using their ATMs if you’re not a customer of that particular bank. Use free cash machines instead.
8. Make sure you don’t pay extra income tax
Most students don’t make more money than the annual personal allowance. If this is the case, you shouldn’t pay any tax for your income.
9. Make sure you’re not paying council tax if you don’t have to
In the UK, you don’t have to pay council tax if all occupants of the property are full-time students.
10. When you get money, move some of it immediately to a savings account
When you get a new student loan payment or your wages, move some of it immediately to a high-interest savings account and don’t spend it unless it’s absolutely necessary. This way you’ll have more savings put away for a rainy day.
11. Pay your bills on time
You’ll often have to pay late fees if you pay bills late. Avoid them by always paying your bills before the due date.
12. Open a savings account
If you have any spare savings, it makes sense to put them into a savings account. This way you’ll earn higher interest than with a regular bank account.
13. Don’t take loans other than your student loan
You’ll have to pay them back eventually – with interest. Student loans often have lower interest rates and more favourable terms for paying them back than other types of loans.
14. Drink at home instead of going out
Sure, it’s fun to go out sometimes, but it can get expensive if you go to bars and nightclubs all the time. Sometimes it can be equally fun (and much better for your finances) to stay in and have a party at home.
15. Get paid to drink
In the UK 18 and 19-year-olds can sign up with Serve Legal to work as mystery shoppers, testing if bars ask for ID when selling drinks. You get reimbursed for the drinks and get a small payment for every visit on top of that.
16. Plan your food shops beforehand and stick to your list
It’s easy to buy too much, especially if you go to the supermarket when you’re hungry. To stop you from wasting money on impulse purchases, go to the supermarket with a list of things you actually need.
17. Cook your own food instead of eating out or ordering takeaways
This is an obvious way to save money, but it can be great fun too, especially if you team up with your friends and you all cook a nice meal together.
18. If you do get a takeaway, collect it yourself
Many food delivery apps charge for delivery. This may seem like a small thing, but especially if you order in often, the money will add up.
19. Batch cook
This is a good idea especially if you live alone. Package sizes in supermarkets are often very large for one person and you may end up binning a lot of food that’s gone off. Instead, batch cook several portions of the same dish at once.
20. Buy food in the evening
This is when shops lower the prices of many products that are close to their sell-by dates.
21.Get a loyalty card to your local supermarket
This way you’ll get some good savings when you buy food.
22. Buy food in cheaper stores like Lidl or Aldi
Many items are cheaper in some stores, and the quality is often the same.
23. Buy white label goods and supermarket brands rather than well-known brand food
They’re often basically the same as the branded goods, but much cheaper.
24. Have a meatless day every now and then
This tip is good for both your health and your wallet. Especially red meat can often be expensive and having a day when you don’t eat meat every now and then helps you eat both healthier and cheaper. Just try to make sure you replace the meat with vegetables rather than crisps or sweets!
25. Freeze your food
An average household bins hundreds of pounds worth of food every year. Food is often sold in big packs that might not all get used immediately in a small student household. Instead of forgetting half-full packs of food to the back of the fridge, put them in the freezer to use them later.
26. Get a free coffee at Waitrose
If you have a Waitrose card, you can get a free coffee every time you buy something from there. Remember to bring your own mug, since Waitrose have ditched the disposable cups to protect the environment.
27. Grow your own food
If you want to have plants in your home, maybe get some herbs and chillies too. They’re easy to grow and will give a nice extra touch to the food you cook. You’ll not only save a bit of money but also get to enjoy the feeling of eating something you’ve grown yourself.
28. Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season
Fruits and vegetables are typically both cheaper and tastier when you buy them when they are in season.
29. Drink water when you’re thirsty
When it comes to quenching your thirst, water is both the cheapest and the healthiest option.
30. Make your own coffee
If you don’t want to drink just water, it’s at least cheaper to make your own coffee at home rather than buy it from a café.
31. Buy bigger items from sales
If you need to make a bigger purchase, like buying a new TV, don’t rush to the shops right away. Consider waiting until the next sales, and you can get the same thing much cheaper.
32. Take advantage of student discounts
Many places offer student discounts. Make sure you know where you can get these.
33. Get a student discount card
In many countries you can get a specific student discount card which will get you discounts in different shops.
34. Have a weekly ‘no spend’ day
Have one day every week when you don’t spend money on anything. Make sure you have some food in the fridge beforehand though!
35. Shop at flea markets
You can make some great finds for very cheap. Shopping at flea markets can often also be much more fun than just going to a well-known brand store.
36. Take your second-hand shopping online with Amazon Warehouse
Love shopping online? No problem, you can buy second-hand stuff online too. Amazon Warehouse has some great selections.
37. Another great place for cheap deals online is the eBay Shops Hub
eBay is another great option for second-hand shopping online.
38. Buy used video games
Many people sell their video games once they’ve played them through. This means there are lots of new-quality games available for cheaper prices. If you’re a gamer, you should definitely check out this option for buying your games.
39. Buy last year’s video games
Another way to save on video games is to buy last year’s version of a game that updates every year. For example, the price of last year’s FIFA drops immediately when a new one is published.
40. Buy gift cards on eBay
People who have been given gift cards for shops they never go to are often willing to sell them on for less than face value.
41. Leave items in your basket for a day
It’s really easy to make impulse purchases, especially online. Leave the products in your basket for a day, close your browser and come back the next day. If you still feel you want to buy the stuff, go for it. Often you’ll notice that with some time to think, you don’t really want it anymore.
42. Take advantage of refer-a-friend programs
Many companies offer money for existing customers who bring in new ones. If you think some of your friends might be willing to buy from a place where you already shop, make sure you refer them. Best case is, you’ll both get rewarded!
43. Choose click & collect or free delivery for your online purchases
Do you really need that stuff tomorrow? Probably not, in which case there’s no point paying for quick delivery. Click & collect is also often cheaper than getting the things delivered to your home.
44. Use the library
How often do you read books more than once? Instead of buying a book, loan it from your local library. Just remember to return it on time to avoid late fees!
45. Read old books that are out of copyright
Old books that are out of copyright can be given away for free, and you can find plenty of these for example on the Apple Books app. The Sherlock Holmes series is a good example of famous books being out of copyright.
46. Go to second-hand bookstores
You can make some lovely old finds. Many second-hand book stores will often have lots of recently published books as well.
47. Complete surveys
There are many websites where you can complete surveys and get vouchers for major retailers in return. Just watch out for scams – you won’t get a free iPad for completing one survey!
48. Save on haircuts
If you’ve been going to a big-name salon, you can often find the same quality for cheaper elsewhere. Other ways to save are getting a cut without a wash or having a haircut slightly less often than you are used to.
49. Get the most out of your toiletries
The fact that you can’t get anything out of your shampoo bottle or toothpaste tube does not mean it’s empty yet. Cut them open and you can often get another week’s worth or shampoo or toothpaste before you have to buy a new one.
50. Buy larger items
Things like shampoo and toothpaste are often cheaper if you buy a bigger pack. With items that don’t spoil, this can be a great way to save a bit.
51. Take a shopping bag with you
Saving the price of a plastic bag is not much, but it’s better than nothing, and better for the environment too.
52. Sell your old stuff
If you own something you don’t need anymore, someone else might. It’s easy to sell your stuff online.
53. Get stuff for free from people who don’t need it
For example Facebook has many groups where people are giving stuff away for free because they don’t need it anymore. And it’s not just useless junk, you can find some really great stuff too!
54. Look for cheap flights
The price of flights can often vary a lot based on factors such as which airline you use and how early you buy your tickets. Keep an eye out for the best deals and you can save significant amounts.
55. Look for cheap stays
There are many good alternatives to fancy hotels. Look for cheap hostels and other alternatives such as Airbnb.
56. Stay for free
In addition to cheap accommodation, you might even be able to get a place to stay for free. Check out websites such as CouchSurfing to find great deals.
57. Look for the best deals when exchanging currencies
If you’re travelling to a country with a different currency, make sure you don’t pay too much for exchanging your money. The differences between exchange companies can be notable, and exchange places at airports often have particularly bad rates.
58. Take an empty water bottle to the airport
Many airports have water fountains where you can fill your bottle instead of buying a pricey bottle of water from the duty-free.
59. Get a 16-25 railcard
If you’re living in the United Kingdom, you can get a railcard for 16-25-year-olds that will give you a discount on train tickets. If you’re studying in another country, find out if your home country offers a similar discount for young people.
60. Shop for the cheapest offers for your phone contract
Different providers often have different offers. Shop around to find the best deals. You’ll often get a cheaper price if you’re willing to get a long-term plan.
61. Get the best phone package for you
If you like to use a lot of data, you probably don’t need to pay so much for free texts and vice versa. Think about how you use your phone and find the best package for your needs.
62. Consider getting a SIM-only plan
If you don’t want to change phones every year, but are happy to have the same phone for a longer time, consider getting a SIM-only plan. You might end up paying more for your phone upfront, but it will be cheaper in the long run if you keep the same phone for a few years.
63. Consider buying phone insurance
This will cost you a bit, but if you’re prone to accidents with your phone, it might prove worth it.
64. Sell your old phone when you get a new one
Don’t just leave your old phone in the bottom drawer, never to be used again. Many companies will give you a discount for your new phone if you return your old one at the same time.
65. Don’t pay for software
Whether it’s Microsoft Office, Photoshop or something else, many popular softwares have free alternatives. If you don’t need a specific software for your school work, this can be a handy way to save a bit.
66. Share your Netflix account
If you live in the same household with roommates, you don’t all need individual accounts. Sharing Netflix passwords across households is now more difficult, as Netflix has recently taken measures to curb this practice.
67. Get 2 for 1 cinema tickets on Compare the Market in the UK
Many companies in various countries often have deals like this: cinema tickets are a popular price in various campaigns, so if you buy something from the right place, you might get free cinema tickets as well. Don’t just buy stuff for the free movie tickets though, only buy stuff you actually need!
68. Go to the cinema during the day
If you don’t have classes, take advantage of the fact that day-time screenings are often cheaper than evening or weekend ones.
69. Go to film nights at your university
Many universities and clubs arrange film nights for their students. Go to one of these instead of buying a ticket to the cinema.
70. Take part in ticket lotteries for shows
Many musicals and plays in big cities like London hold ticket lotteries where a small number of tickets is sold at a reduced price to the lucky winners. This can be a great way to see a show you normally might not be able to afford.
71. Ditch your TV licence
In the UK, a TV licence costs over £150 a year. If you only watch streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime, you won’t need a licence. Remember that you won’t be able to watch live TV or BBC iPlayer though.
72. Don’t subscribe to too many streaming services
There is a huge amount of content in one service, so do you really need Netflix and Amazon Prime and Apple TV and Disney Plus?
73. Go to cheap or free gigs
Many bands, stand-up comedians and other performers who are just starting out do shows for very cheap, even free. This will also give you the chance to discover some gems before their big break.
74. Don’t pay for music
Those ads might be annoying, but that way you won’t have to pay for Spotify. YouTube has lots of music as well, and you don’t need to get their paid subscription to listen to it.
75. Go to museums
Many museums are free, especially for students. They’re a great way to spend your free time without spending a lot of money, they’re educational and often really interesting too.
76. Turn off the lights and save electricity
Especially if you have a tendency to leave lights on in a room when you’re not even in there, this is just a waste of both money and environment. Turn off the lights and buy light bulbs that use less electricity.
77. Book a student property where all bills are included in the rent
Many purpose-built student accommodations (PBSAs) have all bills included in your rent. If you book one of these properties, you won’t have to worry about surprising costs. It makes budgeting easier too when you know how much you’re going to spend every month.
78. Buy a used car
If you definitely need a car, buy a used one instead of new. Often you’ll save a lot of money for basically the same quality.
79. Use public transport
If you live in a place with good public transport, you probably won’t need a car at all. Use public transport instead.
80. Take the bus
If you have the choice, buses are often cheaper than trains, or especially Uber.
Even better, walk if you’re not going far. You’ll get exercise and save money at the same time.
82. Figure out if it makes sense to buy a monthly pass for public transport
If you walk short distances, and don’t use public transport that often, it might actually be cheaper to just buy pay-as-you-go tickets when needed.
83. Split your train tickets
In the UK, buying separate tickets for every part of your train journey can be cheaper than just buying one ticket for your whole journey. Compare the options to see if there’s a difference for a journey you’re taking.
84. Choose a cheaper gym membership
There’s a huge number of different gyms to choose from these days, from ultra-fancy and expensive ones to ones with no frills and much cheaper prices. Do you really need a membership in the most fashionable gym in town? This is something where you can save a good amount by going for a cheaper membership.
85. Don’t get a gym membership at all
How often do you actually go to gym? If you know you won’t go that often anyways, don’t buy a membership at all. Go out jogging, do home workouts or book a student accommodation with a gym included and you’ll save even more money.
86. Stop smoking
If you smoke, managing to quit is not only great for your health but also for your wallet. Depending on how much you smoke, you can easily save hundreds or even thousands of pounds a year.
87. Buy generic medication
There are generic versions of many well-known brand medications. These have the same active ingredients, but are often much cheaper. Always make sure you only buy medication from actual pharmacies though: if you see an offer online that seems too good to be true, it probably is just that.
Accommodation and household
88. Rent a furnished student accommodation
If you book an unfurnished student apartment, buying all the needed furniture can get expensive. If you don’t already own a bunch of furniture, try to look for furnished apartments.
89. Make your own cleaning products
Making your own cleaning products is surprisingly easy. These can be a great alternative to pricey brand products.
90. Learn to sew
If there’s a slight tear in a seam of an otherwise good item of clothing, there’s no need to throw it away and buy a new one. Learn to repair it instead.
91. Don’t use too much detergent
When washing your clothes, make sure you don’t use too much detergent. This way you won’t have to buy new bottles so often. Using too much detergent can actually be harmful to your clothes as well, meaning you’ll have to buy new ones more often.
92. Live in shared accommodation
This way you can split a lot of costs. You’ll get a chance to meet new people and make new friends as well!
93. If you live with flatmates, cook together
This way you can split the cost of food packages that are often too large for one person anyways.
94. Don’t get a pet
As cute as dogs and cats might be, they can incur a lot of costs. Many student accommodations don’t allow pets anyways.
95. Make sure you get your deposit back
You’ll typically have to pay a deposit to secure your accommodation. This is returned at the end of the tenancy assuming you haven’t caused any damage to the property. Make sure you don’t break anything in your student home and remember to ask for your deposit back when you’re moving out.
96. Loan your course books
If you have friends who have taken a course before you, you can ask them to give you their old course books after they don’t need them anymore. Sometimes university libraries might have course books as well.
97. Skip getting course books altogether
At university you often get a list of books you need for a particular course. In many cases you don’t really need the book though, at least as long as you go to class and pay attention.
98. Sell your course books on
If you do need to buy course books, you might be able to sell them on after your course is over.
99. Don’t buy expensive notebooks
Fancy notebooks might look enticing in a stationary store window, but will you really use them? Writing notes on your laptop is often quicker and easier.
100. Study in a country where it’s cheap or free
The cost of living and tuition can vary wildly between different countries. If you’re planning to study abroad, either for your whole degree or for a year abroad, try to look for options that aren’t the most expensive ones.
So there you have it, 100 different things you can try in order to save money! Several of these tips are to do with accommodation. Student.com is the world’s largest marketplace for student housing, and we list over one million beds in hundreds of cities across the world. Make sure you get the best housing deals by checking our student accommodation listings!