It's always been the case that students generally find it hard to make ends meet during term time. With the current recession, things are even harder now, so here are some money saving tips that recognise that students also need to have some fun along the way.
Drinking always has been a popular 'pastime' for students, but it can quickly get expensive if it becomes a regular part of your lifestyle. Consider visiting cheaper pubs or having a beer or two before you go out and cutting down what you have later. Also, if you like the club scene, then turn up before they start charging entry.
Student life doesn't mean that you have to exclude meals out from time to time. There are simple ways to save money here. Look out for student specials in local restaurants or go online and search for vouchers offering 2-for-1 deals or other discounts. Also, look out for BYOB restaurants where you only have to pay corkage.
More and more cinemas are offering great deals, you just need to find out what they are. Go online to your local cinemas' sites and check them out. Also if you are an Orange customer don't forget about their 2-for-1 deal on Wednesdays.
Avoid buying your lunch each day on campus. If you spend say £5 each day, this could approach almost £1,000 a year! Consider taking in a packed lunch and you could save £100's of pounds.
Make sure you try out discount stores like Aldi or Lidl. They will be significantly cheaper than other stores and you will be pleasantly surprised by the quality as well as the extra pounds in your pocket. Don't buy ready meals - they are an expensive way to live. Get yourself some self help cookbooks and/or get your talented 'chef' friends to show you how to cook simple meals.
Try and avoid jumping onto the latest fashion bandwagon at the earliest opportunity, it will hurt your pocket. Shop at the big supermarkets and buy their own label goods - you can make significant savings. Also use a loyalty card as these lead to more discounts in the future. Also, get yourself out to the charity shops - especially in winter, lots of second hand warm jumpers. It's amazing how many "in" styles are just reworks of "old" styles.
These days most items that can be bought in physical shops can also be bought online and delivered to your door. Even including the delivery charge, online orders are often cheaper than physical purchases. Use search engine, online shopping sites and online auction sites to find the best deal.
Get yourself a student bank account, and be sure to take advantage of any introductory offers, like a cash bonus or a free railcard.
If you live far from university you need to ensure that you get the best deal when returning home. To do this, book as early as possible with budget airlines, train companies and others.
If you are heading home - book tickets well in advance. And remember to use a railcard (especially if you've got one free from the bank - see above)
Mobile phone contracts can be very costly if you must have the latest version with all the extras. Ask yourself if you really do need this before your current contract is up for renewal. Then shop around and make it clear that you are doing so. You can potentially make huge savings here by being realistic and doing your homework.
If you’re in student accommodation, get your TV license in October. That way you can claim back for the time you are not using it from July to September next summer.
Try talking to those in the year above before the end of the session about buying their old books - there are even some websites dedicated to this practise now. Another place to check for cheap or free items is Gumtree.com.
Using personal finance software where you can set budgets and tag transactions, find out how much you have coming into your account each term, and take away the amount you want to save over the course of the term. Divide the remainder by the number of weeks in a term, and you have your weekly budget. Stick to it!