Student money: how students can save hundreds of pounds this September

In just a few weeks, thousands of students will be starting at university or college. For many young people, this is their first time away from home. Among other things, this means managing their own money for the first time.

TotallyMoney looks at some of the ways that students can save money as they start their university life. This includes:

  • Saving money on over 200 brands thanks to NUS TOTUM cards
  • An interest-free overdraft of up to £3,000 with selected banks and building societies
  • The first £12,500 you earn while studying will not be taxed
  • Train and coach discounts

Over the academic year, students can save hundreds of pounds thanks to offers and discounts. Staying on top of their finances and taking advantage of these offers now can be beneficial later down the line.

Students might not be thinking about mortgages or credit cards right now. But, being savvy with money as a student can help them to prepare for after graduation. Keeping your finances on track and managing money effectively leads to a good credit rating — favoured by banks and lenders.

Alastair Douglas, CEO of credit experts TotallyMoney, makes his suggestions to students embarking on their next chapter at university: “For many students, university is the first time moving away from home and living independently. This means taking control of their finances.

“Checking in with your credit rating from time to time can help you keep track of your credit score. After university, a good score can help you get a credit card, car finance and even getting on the property ladder.”

Here are the top money-saving tips for students starting university in the coming weeks:

Apply for a student bank account

There are bank accounts out there with perks for students, like an interest-free overdraft. That’s great for helping you out until the student loan drops, or covering you until you can work over the summer.

Some banks offer £1,500 or £2,000. But, HSBC, Nationwide and Barclays all offer up to £3,000.

Make sure you can pay off your overdraft within one year of graduation, though. Otherwise, you’ll have to start paying interest on what’s left.

Get the NUS TOTUM Card

The NUS TOTUM card gives you huge discounts in stores and online, including 40% off at Las Iguanas, 10% off at ASOS, and 10% off at The Co-op. Check out the website to see the 200+ discounts available. And, it’s only £12 for one year — bargain.

Draw up a budget — and stick to it

Track your spending with your bank’s mobile app or online banking. Contactless spending may be quick, but you could easily lose track of your payments. So, it might help to take out cash for a particular day — or a big night out.

Sign up for your free credit report

After graduation, you’re likely to start thinking about your career and owning a home. A free credit report helps you track and improve your credit score in real time, so you can see how your behaviour affects it.

A good credit score helps you get the best deals on credit cards and loans — and even mortgages. So, acting now holds you in good stead for later on.

Cut the cost of textbooks

Your university library should have all the books and resources for your course. But, if you need something extra, buying second hand is the cheaper option. Most campuses have a bookshop with a second-hand book section. Or, you could buy it off other students in the year above.

Keep an eye on your tax payments

If you work alongside your studies, the first £12,500 you earn is tax free (2019/20 tax year). Check your payslip to see if your employer deducts tax from your pay. And, if they do, reclaim it.

Be food smart

If you share a flat or house, buy food between all of you and cook at home. It’s cheaper than eating out or going solo on the groceries.

You could also cook in bulk, freeze your meals, and buy from the cheaper supermarkets like Lidl or Aldi. Some supermarkets also reduce food that’s about to go out of date. If you visit the supermarket at the right time (usually in the evening), you can find some great deals.

But, of course you’ll want the odd takeaway and meal out. And, when you do, you can often find vouchers for Domino’s or Pizza Hut on campus, and Deliveroo or Just Eat often have deals on. Some restaurants have student and group discounts.

Take advantage of cheap student software offers

You can get amazing discounts on Windows laptops as a student. On top of that, Office 365 Education is completely free, leaving you more money to spend on the things you enjoy.

Apply for Council Tax exemption

In households where everyone’s a full-time student, you don’t have to pay Council Tax. If you get a bill, apply for an exemption.

To count as a full-time student, your course must last at least one year and involve at least 21 hours of study per week.

Getting discounts on train and coach travel

A 16-25 railcard gives you a third off train fares, and only costs £30 for one year — or £70 for three years. A great way to save, if you use the train to get to and from uni, or plan to go home a few times in the academic year.

And, if you want an even cheaper option, you can get a 15% student discount on coach travel with National Express.