The words ‘budget’ and ‘student’ seem to go hand in hand for many of the UK’s university population, and whilst it is a good idea to rein in the spending sometimes, it is also important to not let your money rule your life. Saving money on the essentials is a great way to get all your necessary items on a budget and relax about buying the things that you really enjoy in life, like a new pair of jeans or gig tickets. Here, we take a look at ways to save on some of the university essentials that can quickly eat up your budget.
Computers and laptops
A laptop or computer and the software on them are essential for student life, unless using the university computers for every essay is more practical somehow. Although a new Apple Mac or iPad may sound like a luxury, Apple’s student discount means that it need not be so expensive. The Apple Store has an Education section with which university students can get 15 per cent off, and when considering how much Apple products can be in the first place, this means a substantial amount of money could be saved.
Used or refurbished laptops are a cheap alternative to buying a new one, and companies such as StudentComputers.co.uk have helped make refurbished, high quality laptops a realistic option for students.
Certain software is essential for university study, whether you are taking an art course or studying economics. Microsoft Office is the must-have software for students, as it is widely available and tends to be the default document creation programme used by public computers on campus. Office 365 is the most up-to-date version of Office and includes useful cloud storage that means documents can be accessed from anywhere. It can be quite pricey, however, and is limited to five devices over a 12-month period, rather than the lifetime usability on a set number of devices that Microsoft traditionally offers. Microsoft have created special software for students in the form of Office 365 University, which covers the user for a four-year subscription service, which will be ideal for the entire time spent at university for the majority of students.
Food is an essential for everyone, but as a student there are a number of ways to be extra thrifty with your food expenditure. The student card issued by your institution can get a hungry student a free beefburger, cheeseburger or McFlurry at McDonalds when you buy any meal. NUS Extra cardholders can also get free medium fries when ordering a Big Mac or McChicken Sandwich, but as the card costs £12 or more, it may be better to stick to the student card freebies.
There are a number of useful websites that offer discounts on some student favourites, such as Domino’s Pizza, Zizzi, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Pizza Express. Try My Voucher Codes and Student Beans for up-to-date codes from a range of high street restaurants.
Thanks to the competitiveness of supermarkets, many of them will now do all the hard money-saving work for you. Sainsbury’s Brand Match can help students still enjoy the luxury of brands whilst knowing they will receive the difference if they could have got it cheaper elsewhere. Asda, meanwhile, promise to be 10 per cent cheaper or they will give you the difference, and Tesco Price Promise will give students a voucher if a comparable grocery shop would have been cheaper. There is a great deal to be had wherever you go!
It doesn’t take someone with an accounting degree to realise that free buses are a money-saver. Many universities have services that offer complimentary trips to key areas such as the Student’s Union and the library, particularly those that have a large campus. These can be especially useful when carrying a large amount of books or running late!
Some cities offer special student transport cards that can be used on bus services, such as the 18+ Student Oyster card available in London. Students can cut 30 per cent from their travel costs in London, which can add up to hundreds of pounds. For instance, students can save almost £700 when purchasing an annual Oyster card from Zones 1-6. This student card can be used on trams and on the London Underground as well.
Though not technically a student railcard, the savings that come with the 16-25 railcard make it a travel essential for many students. Those of typical student age can get a third off rail fares with the 16-25 railcard, which costs just £30 for one year or £70 for three years. The cost of the card can easily be made up in savings, especially for those who have to travel a long distance home and can sometimes save over £30 with just one journey. Bear in mind that some student bank accounts offer the 16-25 railcard for free when you sign up, but it is far more important to think about what the bank account itself offers, even if a free railcard does seem appealing.
Image credit: francisco_osorio (flickr.com)