One student tells us her advice to stay out of your overdraft throughout university.

1. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it

A mistake that a lot of us make as students is spending money when we don’t need to. Do you really need a Starbucks or could you just pack a flask which lasts an entire day? Do you really have to buy your University hoody in every colour just to prove you go there? Lots of university resident associations or societies also offer free meals out nights, so don’t go spending lots of money on takeaways which usually charge £4+ on delivery (and never deliver to your exact door). Avoid going crazy when shopping too, student nights are great as they offer discounts but you don’t have to buy something just because it’s 20% less, remember 20% off £10 is still £8, so consider if you’re really saving. You don’t have to scrimp on everything, but just bear in mind if what you’re buying is necessary.

2. Get a part-time job

It may seem like working and studying at the same time is impossible, but in reality, if you calculate the time you can spend watching complete series of TV shows or lying in bed doing nothing, you’ll probably discover you have at least 8 spare hours a week. If you have retail experience, check out local shopping centres or high streets for jobs (especially around September/October when stores are looking for Christmas temps), or contact local agencies if you’d rather work in an office (which looks fab on your CV). Also, most universities have student unions, bars and clubs (and if not, if you’re at a university in a large town/city, they’ll undoubtedly have restaurants, bars and clubs) so if you have catering/waitressing or bar work experience, try out these. That little extra a week can go towards bills, food, treating yourself or just saving up, and will keep you out of your overdraft!

3. Invest in a reward account

This is something a lot of students don’t know, but many banks offer accounts with incentives if you pay in a certain amount each month and have a certain number of direct debits coming out, so for students paying rent and/or any bills, this applies to most of you! Just contact your local bank and see if you are eligible for reward current accounts, and if so, try switching over!

4.  Purchasing in the right places

When it comes to buying, sometimes it’s easy to just spend here and there without thinking. However, if you shop around, you can save so much in the long run! When it comes to food shops, so many supermarkets offer money-off vouchers or loyalty cards, so make sure you save up your points and get money off where you can. When it comes to purchasing clothing, try and buy clothing online as there are so many websites where you can get outfits for cheap, or try shopping in outlets (take TK Maxx for example) or sales. Remember that most stores have summer sales, mid-season sales, winter sales and Black Friday sales so if you buy something full-price, there’s a high chance that you’ll find it for half price in a month or so!

5. Booking travel

Travel can be a killer for the wallet, so make sure you buy tickets around 12 weeks in advance to really save your money. Also, don’t stick to one website because you’re used to it – shop around for deals. Red Spotted Hanky, The Train Line and Virgin Trains have some fantastic offers if you take a look early. Also, try out coaches once in a while – they may be a bit longer but coaches are often so much cheaper than trains that it’s worth trying them out once in a while. Take a look at National Express and Megabus for more info.

6. Know where to party

Going out clubbing is part of student life, of course, but knowing where to go clubbing is key. Lots of clubs may offer £1 shots but if the entry is over £10, are you really saving? Remember to pre-drink too, that way you won’t spend a fortune on club drinks. Try going out in a large group, that way you can save on taxi fare, and always see if you know a club promoter, as they often can get you in to club nights for free (before a certain time). Avoid bringing your card out with you too – many students I know end up spending a fortune on takeaways this way!

7. Make extra cash

If you don’t fancy working part-time or you don’t have as much time, try making some extra cash online. There are plenty of websites such as Valuedopinions and Uk.mysurvey which offer cash rewards in return for your time (at around £1 per survey which lasts around 25 minutes) so you can complete them in front of the TV on your sofa! Also, if you’re a music fan, there is a website called Slicethepie which also pays its users for their opinions on new music! Furthermore, if you consider yourself a blogger or if you own your own website, have a look at Google ads as they pay people to post ads (which you can choose to feature on your website).

8. Books

First thing to consider when your lecturers tell you to buy a book is do you really need it? Many of the books I bought in first year, I used for one semester then never looked at again. If possible, of course you can buy them and then sell them on to other students/sell them online. But in many cases, books are available online (on Google Books and Amazon) so check before you purchase. Invest in books that will last over the entirety of your course, but for books you don’t particularly need for that long, try seeing if other students are selling them for cheaper, or try out auction sites like eBay to pick up budget-priced ones.

9. Repay when you can

If you find that you do have to dig in to your overdraft, only use it for an emergency. When you have the money to pay back what you’ve borrowed, make sure you do! Paying back your overdraft quickly looks good on your bank records, and also means that you won’t be delving further and further into your minuses.

10. Consider if you really need one

The final but probably the most important point, is considering if you really need an overdraft. Work out how much money you will receive altogether, in terms of maintenance loan, wages and/or financial aid from parents/guardians (if any are applicable), and see how much you’ll need. Many banks will entice you with offers of £3000 interest-free loans or draw you in with free railcards, but have a good think about how much you need, and if/when you’ll be able to pay them back.

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