6 easy tips to save money this year
It’s officially 2022, and many of us are thinking about our financial health. Perhaps you want to save money so you can travel after you graduate, or maybe you want to feel more in control of your spending as a new student. Whatever the reason, January is a good time to review your financial habits.
To give you a headstart, Isobel is offering up her 6 tips for saving money below.
Make your money go further by budgeting.
Budget calculators are great for making your financial planning easier, and limiting overspending. I use Blackbullion as it was recommended by my university's finance management team when I applied for a grant. It has a budget calculator and also offers advice around taking better responsibility over your money.
For me, my main income comes from my student loan, part-time job, and university grant funding. Take a look at what you're spending compared to your income and create a list of priorities. I like to use a 3-tier approach to prioritising my spending as a student.
My top priority outgoings are:
- Rent – A benefit I find living with Unite Students is that all the bills are included within the rent costs (water, electric, Wi-Fi etc).
- Personal bills – mobile phone contract, TV licence, subscriptions etc.
- Food – I have a free Clubcard from Tesco which cuts costs, but I also make use of Aldi and Lidl as they offer cheaper alternatives to big name brands.
- Uni essentials – items like course-related books or stationery are must-haves and I have to remind myself to incorporate them into my budget. I often manage to save some coin by checking eBay, Depop, and Facebook Marketplace for students selling their old books.
My second priority outgoings are:
- Travel – I like to factor in costs for taxis, buses, and trains to campus, getting around my uni city, and visiting home. I even have a 16-25 railcard for discounted fares.
- Nights out and society socials – whether it’s takeaways, meals out, cocktails, nights out, or just a quiet café study date, I like to have plenty of money in my social fund.
- Clothes – I make good use of my student discounts to buy clothes. Apps like UNIiDAYS, Student Beans and NUS are my faves.
Finally, my third (and lowest) priority outgoings are:
- Hair and Beauty appointments – these can be costly visits so allocating and saving up for treatments results in less of a dint on my bank balance.
- Events – anything from festivals, holidays and day trips to hobbies and sports activities - these are big expenses I like to save up for when I can.
- Christmas and birthday presents – I like to spread the cost and buy in advance throughout the year.
- Savings account – more on this next.
It can be difficult to save money. When I started my part-time job in retail, I’d spend the entire month's wage and never considered saving. Nowadays, I try to save ten percent of my income by depositing into my savings account.
Opening a savings account like an ISA or Regular Saver with a good interest rate and withdrawal access allows you to save while earning interest, ultimately giving you free money - what’s not to like! Setting up a direct debit to pay a fixed amount is something I’m considering doing this year to help me save a little bit extra. Saving is a good habit to start no matter how much, it can be as little as ten pounds or a hundred. Don’t feel disheartened if you can’t afford to save vast amounts, do what works for you.
Also, consider setting up a student bank account with benefits like an interest-free overdraft. Bear in mind some banks offer student-only promotions like Santander, who give a free railcard for opening an account with them.
Growing up, my mum showed me the importance of managing your earnings and being sensible with your spending. She explained the importance of budgeting, and would give me cash bags to save money for different things.
Using cash helps you physically see the money being spent rather than a number decreasing in your banking app. Still to this day I use this technique, and it’s helped me immensely with managing my money at uni.
Bringing cash for a food shop restricts your overspending, and writing a shopping list before helps you avoid impulse buys. Try to be strict on your budget, but make sure you do have some extra as contingency - you don’t want to go hungry!
I recently read a shopping hack online that’s stuck with me. If you see a winter coat that costs £30, would you wear it at least 30 times? If so, it’s a sensible purchase. If you spot a sequin dress for £45, will you get 45 wears out of it? Probably not.
Ask for help
Always seek financial help if you’re struggling. Universities have a money advice department where you can seek advice or apply for funding. Last year my laptop broke, and I needed a replacement, but I didn't have any money to buy one. After explaining my situation to my lecturer, she referred me to a student funding advisor, and I was given a grant to go towards buying a new one.