Looking at your spending can be scary sometimes, particularly if you’re not sure exactly where your money is going. It can also be difficult to work out where you can cut back. But even if you only make small changes, you can still save money – which is hugely important if you are trying to manage a fixed income like a student loan. Try our suggestions below to stretch your finances and you might even be motivated enough to start a savings account!
Firstly, think ‘what can I cut back on?’ Can you bring a packed lunch to university or placement instead of buying lunch? Or a refillable water bottle or travel mug so that you’re not tempted to buy bottles of water or takeaway coffees? Can you forgo a kebab or cheesy chips at the end of a night out for toast when you get home? Check out the Money Advice Service’s Quick cash finder tool to discover how you could quickly save money by cutting back on regular spending.
One of the easiest ways to cut back is to swap branded goods for supermarket’s own ‘value’ or even ‘basic ’ range – these products will often taste the same and they’re usually much cheaper. If you’re a label King or Queen, try Money Saving Expert’s Downshift Challenge and switch some of your branded products to cheaper alternatives.
Did you know that your local supermarket might not be the cheapest place for you to shop? You can compare the price of your shopping at different supermarkets at the MySupermarket website. If you’re thinking about making a change, don’t forget to factor in travel costs like bus tickets and petrol too.
The student money website, Save the Student, reports that the average student spends around £28- 30 per week on food, but they think you can slash this to as little as £15 per week! How? Find out more on the Save the Student website.
For further tips on shopping wisely, see our ‘Savvy shopping’ post
If you have a smartphone, there are dozens of apps that you can download to help with everything from listing shopping discounts and cashback deals to finding the nearest cash machine which doesn’t charge – many apps are also free! See these recent lists from Save the Student and The Telegraph of the best student-friendly budgeting and money-saving apps.
If you regularly travel by train, you probably know already that you can save money by booking in advance and using a railcard, but there are plenty of other ways in which you can cut down on ticket prices. See Which and Save the Student for further tips on cheaper rail travel.
Did you know commuters can typically save up to £1,000 per year by car-sharing?
Finally, if you successfully cut back on your spending, you may even be able to start properly saving some money! Sound impossible? Try the simple 52 week savings challenge – save 1p on the first day, then 2p on the next, then 3p, and so on. If you keep it up, you can save £667.95 in a 365-day year – nearly £700 to spend towards a new laptop, paying off your debts, or simply as a Rainy Day fund, just in case. Skint Dad has further details and even downloadable PDFs to motivate your savings. Not all students can save several pounds per day (which is the recommended amount in the later stages of the challenge), but if you aim to save as much as you can afford instead, you will still have more money in savings at end of the year than you started with – which is something to feel very pleased about.
Even if you don’t end up with any savings, you can still live within your means by making small changes – which is an important mindset to have and a valuable skill to learn.
Do you have any tips on making changes to your spending? Let us know and they may be featured on this blog.