We all wish we could make our money go that little bit further and when you’re a student it’s even more important to get value for money.
Saving money needn’t mean that you have to live in the dark eating nothing but plain jacket potatoes all term.
Have a go at these cheap and cheerful hacks to make your loan stretch further – or simply build up your post-night-out pizza fund!
1. Pay with cash
It’s so easy to just flash the plastic when you’re on campus or shopping around, so try to use cash when paying for small items. Studies show that you’re more likely to reconsider whether you actually need that pasty when you’re paying for it with cold hard cash – and the bigger the denomination, the better, because you won’t want to break a twenty just for a coffee.
2. Hunt for coupons
Before you get your big food shop, head over to a coupon website and see if they have any deals on the items you usually buy. But beware – sometimes you can think you’re getting a good deal, but you’re buying more items because they all have 50p off. Signing up to loyalty schemes at all the stores in your local area also means that you’ll get personalised coupons sent straight to your door. If you're looking for a good place to start, check out the Student Hut Offers page!
3. Use your student discount
As a student, you’re eligible for a whole host of discounts at stores all over the country. It doesn’t even always mean you have to have paid for an NUS Extra card – your student card will often be enough. Don’t be shy to ask at the till whether the store gives money off to students. There may not be a little sign on the desk, but they might still offer one! Also, unless the shop scans the magnetic strip in the NUS Extra card, you may be able to convince the cashier that your regular student card will do the trick. This isn’t really being sneaky, as you are still a member of the National Union of Students, and it can’t hurt to ask. The worst they can do is say no!
4. Make razors last longer
Try this weird trick to avoid shelling out for razors and replacement blades every time they go blunt. When they’re dry, run them in the opposite direction to the angle of the blade against a tough material, such as a towel or an old pair of jeans, around ten times. Obviously you need to be very careful not to ‘shave’ the fabric – always push the razor away from you, lift it from the fabric, reposition, then push away from you again.
5. Outsmart eBay
There are thousands of listings on eBay which have spelling errors and so won’t come up on most searches so you might be able to get a bargain in an auction that nobody else can find! There are plenty of sites out there to find those elusive listings, including FatFingers.co.uk and baycrazy.com/misspelled.
6. Buy stolen items
Don’t worry, it’s all legal – even the police support it! Head over to bumblebeeauctions.co.uk to buy items that have been recovered by the police and have not been claimed by the original owner. It’s a lot smaller than eBay, with no more than around 200 listings at any time, but with everything from bikes to DSLR cameras, it’s always worth keeping an eye out for a bargain. You can also email your local police station to find out if they have anything they need to get rid of.
7. Save on all-purpose cleaner sprays
When you cook with lemons, collect together the halves when they’ve been juiced or rinded and soak them in a jar of cheap white vinegar for 2-3 weeks (you could also just buy some bottled lemon juice). Strain them, funnel them into an old spray bottle, and harness the power of degreasing citric acid and mould-destroying acetic acid for a fraction of the price of a bottle of Dettol.
8. Cut down on your dryer dependence
Only use the dryer to take the worst of the dampness out of your clothes, or not at all if you have a fairly warm house. String up a washing line or use a folding airer and let your clothes dry naturally, saving you money on your electricity bill and time on ironing – no more crinkles from being squashed up in the dryer!
9. Eat less meat
Try cooking at least two vegetarian meals a week to cut back on the expense of meat. There are loads of tasty recipes that are meat-free – try a three-bean chilli, add extra chunks of mushroom to your stir fry instead of chicken, or even have a go at cooking with supermarket meat-alternatives (brands such as Quorn are twice the price).
10. Stop wasting your food
If you are always finding yourself throwing food away because it’s gone stale or mouldy, invest in some cheap clear Tupperware (Poundland have a large selection) and use them to store fresh food in the fridge and freezer. That way, you’ll see what food you have and be more likely to eat it because it’s ‘opened’ and ready to cook with. Keep an eye on ‘best before’ dates, but a lot of food is totally edible after this - do be extra careful with meat and dairy. If something’s in a jar or tin, leave it in your cupboard until you’ve opened it, and then transfer anything you don’t eat to a tub – otherwise, you can put everything from stir-fry mix to cheese straight from your shopping bag to the Tupperwear!
11. 2-for-1 cinema tickets
Take advantage of Compare The Market’s Meerkat Movies offer by purchasing some insurance through their website. If you need to insure your valuables anyway, it may pay off to use Compare The Market as you’ll get Meerkat Movies thrown in on top of an expense you would have been forking out for anyway – but if not, travel insurance is the way to go. You can get very basic cover for a ‘trip’ to Europe from as little as £2, and then the Meerkat Movies is yours for a whole year! It’s a bit like getting a railcard or an NUS Extra card – pay a little, save a lot!
Got any more life hacks that work for you? What’s your biggest expense when you’re at uni? Let us know in the comments below!