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Other Spending

Sometimes it’s easy to lose track of how much you are spending, particularly with the rise of payment methods like contactless and Apple Pay. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. You might be able to reduce your spending significantly with some simple lifestyle changes.

Expand the boxes below to read our top Money Saving Tips.

Whilst having the latest phone is very tempting, if you have a funding shortfall you need to look at what you actually need your phone to do.

The most essential functions your phone needs to perform are to text and call someone in an emergency. We have become accustomed to having the internet at our fingertips, but if you are really struggling you may need to reconsider what you use your phone for.

Even the most basic phones can cost as little as £7.50 per month (including the handset, unlimited minutes and a small amount of data). Whilst you might perceive that this is a silly suggestion, ultimately, if you can’t afford it you need to reassess your spending and align it to your budget. Consider ways to save money on your phone contract on the Which? website and use their Phone Contract Calculator to find the best deal for you.

Remember – the University of Northampton has free WiFi on campus for staff and students, and you will be surprised how many cafes, restaurants, and even supermarkets have free WiFi too.

Where possible, we’d recommend you make the most of the free WiFi and reduce your data costs. However, when reviewing your contract make sure you are realistic with how much data you will realistically use as additional data and contract charges are often extremely expensive.

If you can, try to charge your phone in free spaces too to cut down on your own energy bills!


Why waste money on a gym membership when you can use the University facilities for free?

The University of Northampton launched it’s Active Campus initiative in 2022. As part of this, a free to use outdoor fitness circuit has been installed around the campus.

As a University of Northampton student, you can also book the University sports facilities at a discounted rate. Further information about this is available on the Student Hub (enrolled students only).

Don’t forget – all of the University of Northampton societies are free to join. Find out more about the Sports societies from the Students’ Union. And, if your favourite doesn’t exist then why not set it up?

The NHS also offer free exercise apps to help support an active lifestyle. The Couch to 5K app is a running programme for beginners and the Active 10 app is for those looking to improve their walking.

If you are still not convinced and really do want that gym membership then remember that University of Northampton students can access a Student Budget Membership at Cripps Gym for just £14.99 a month. Find out more on the Triology Leisure website.

Every student has to travel to campus, but your choice of transport can have a big impact on your budget.

Walk

Where possible, we would always recommend that you walk. After all, it’s free and good for your health too. It takes just 10 minutes to walk from Waterside into Northampton Town Centre, and 20 minutes to the train station. You can plan your walk using the Open Street Map.

Check out further information about walking routes in Northampton on the University of Northampton website.

Bus

If walking isn’t a possibility, our next best suggestion would be to use public transport. The University operate their own bus service – the Uno bus – which offers subsidized travel for staff and students. Even better, there are free charging points and WiFi onboard!

Train

When planning a train trip, remember that student railcards give 1/3rd off the cost of rail travel. Whilst these are marketed as 16-25 railcards, if you are a mature student remember that you can apply too! Some banks offer free student railcards when opening a student bank account, so it’s worthwhile checking these out before you buy (more information on Page 4).

The cheapest train tickets are available online before you travel as Advance Tickets. It’s also worthwhile checking to see if you can ‘Split Tickets’ to cut your journey costs too.

National Rail and Trainline offer Group Save tickets which are worthwhile looking into if you are travelling with friends. If you are traveling to University every day on the train, you could also consider getting a Student Season ticket which gives a 50% discount on the adult season tickets.

Full time students with a London home address can also get discounted travel on the London Underground and Overground, Bus, Tram, and National Rail network in London with an 18+ Student Oyster.

Car

Owning a car is extremely expensive. It’s not just buying the car that you need to consider, but paying the running costs too which includes tax, insurance, petrol, parking, and general maintenance (and any fines you may accrue, too!).

Cycling UK report that running a car costs an average of £3,727 a year, whereas cycling costs just £396. So why not consider the switch? Read more about schemes offered by the University in the ‘Bikes and E-Scooters’ section below.

Some students will require a car due to their specific circumstances, but for most it really isn’t necessary. If you are one of the students who does require a car, remember that the University offers a Park and Ride service. It is free to park and costs just £1.10 for a daily return for staff and students. This option is much cheaper than paying to park on campus.

Also, it’s really important to shop around for your car insurance. Sites such as Compare the Market, Go Compare, and Money Supermarket allow you to browse the best possible deals. If you are due to renew your car insurance, make sure you ring up your existing provider and ask for a better deal – they will more often than not give you one!

If you must have a car, then consider ways to save money as a driver from Save the Student, the RAC, and using the site PetrolPrices.

Bikes and E-Scooters

E-Scooters are a popular choice but did you know you can also get 20% off Voi scooters as a student. Scooters currently cost £1 to unlock and a further £0.20 per minute of usage. If you used a scooter for just two minutes a day Monday-Friday, it would cost you £7 a week, £28 a month (without student discount). It is likely you would probably use the scooter for more than this length of time. If so, consider one of Voi’s monthly passes, alongside your student discount, to make big savings.

It is illegal to use your own personal or private e-scooter on roads and pavements, and you are not permitted to use this on campus. If you bring a personal or private e-scooter to campus you could face it being confiscated – so don’t risk it!

There is lots of bicycle parking on our Waterside campus, so why not consider cycling as your transportation of choice? If you don’t own your own bike, then don’t worry as the University operate a bike loan scheme for just £35 per term.

If bikes and scooters are not for you, you could consider Roller Skates or Skateboarding too!

Check out further information about bikes and e-scooters on the University of Northampton website.

It’s very easy to get swept up in the joy of a celebration. However, you need to be realistic about how much you can afford and manage expectations (particularly if you have children).

We would recommend you include a small amount of money per month within your budget for presents.

If you’re really struggling, we’d recommend you avoid taking out credit for gifts. But, consider what you could give for under £10 or even for free. Often, it is simply just the thought that counts rather than the item itself.

Consider:

  • Shopping second hand: from charity shops or online sites such as Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Depop, and Vinted
  • Giving the gift of time: commit to spending time with someone or doing something for them. For example, could you commit to a day out at the local nature reserve with a picnic, or cook a homemade meal for a loved one, or a day out at a free local museum or attraction?
  • Set a spending limit for your gifts and agree this with your friends and family. You’d be surprised what you can get for under £10 if you have to think about it. Take a look at Save the Student’s 10 gifts for under £5
  • Make a gift: homemade gifts are extremely thoughtful as you have taken the time to make something extra personal. Some ideas are cakes, fudge, candles or wax melts, decorations, artwork, photo wall, flavoured gin, limoncello or other drinks. Why not get your creative juices flowing and consider your artistic side?
  • Birthday Freebies: lots of retailers and restaurants offer freebies when it’s your birthday. Check out Save the Student’s 42 birthday freebies to see what you could get.
  • Cashback: use cashback sites when buying gifts (see ‘Free Money’).

One of the many perks of being a student is the discounts you can get on almost anything – days out, clothing, food, travel, technology and so much more. Some companies offer up to as much as 40% student discount so it’s worth doing your homework before you buy. It’s rare you won’t be able to get money off a purchase!

Often, companies don’t advertise their student discount but this doesn’t mean they don’t offer one. We’d always recommend you ask at the till when making your purchase – it might seem a bit embarrassing, but the worst anyone can do is say no!

Unidays (app based) and Student Beans are both free student discount sites which are well worth checking out. TOTUM cards are pay-for cards which offer more than 350 UK discounts. The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) gives access to over 150,000 student discounts and offers in around 130 countries/territories. If you are studying a healthcare pathway, you may also be eligible for free NHS and Healthcare discounts.

If you’re planning a day out, it’s always worthwhile checking for vouchers on Groupon and asking for student price tickets to attractions. You could even consider doing something for free. Check out NorthantsLive’s suggestions of free things to do in Northamptonshire and Save the Student’s cheap activities for students under £20.

It’s always exciting to buy new things, but shopping can be addictive and quickly spiral into problem debt. The temptation to buy things is known as the Diderot Effect.

Buy second hand

Buying second hand is a good alternative. You can still buy but, providing you’re sensible, your money could stretch a lot further. The added bonus is that it’s great for the planet too.

Check out community second-hand shops on Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Depop, Vinted, Gumtree, and Freecycle. You could also take a look in local charity shops, shops such as Cex or Music Magpie, or reuse shops such as Timewarp Reclaim Reuse in Northampton.

The danger with second hand shopping is that you can buy more than you need because it’s cheap. Always keep your budget in mind and how much you can actually afford.

Buy one, sell one

If you’re living in shared accommodation it’s unlikely you have lots of space to store new purchases.

Consider a one-in-one-out policy; when you buy something new, you must sell one of your old items and make your money back.

Sites such as Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Depop, Vinted, Cex, Music Magpie, and Ziffit are great sites for selling your old possessions.

Set spending limits

If you struggle with impulse buying, consider setting monthly spending limits for specific areas such as clothing, beauty, houseware. The key here is to make sure that you stick to it so you must still exercise discipline!

Beware of marketing

The purpose of marketing is to build interest and awareness of a brand, and most importantly to get you to engage. Often, this means parting with money (even if you don’t want or need to).

Marketing takes many forms. Traditionally, we’ve known marketing as TV and radio adverts, billboards, and adverts on the side of buses. However, as we’ve progressed into the digital age, advertising has become more subtle, cleverly targeted and interwoven into society by celebrities and social media influencers. It is expected that the average Briton consumes over 5000 advertisements every day.

Whilst it’s hard to avoid marketing, consider some of our tips to help reduce the temptation to buy:

  • Unsubscribe from email marketing from your favourite brands
  • Do not follow brands on social media
  • Beware of celebrities and influencers
  • Set time limits on social media and shopping apps (most Apple, Samsung, and Windows devices allow you to do this)

Only buy what you actually need

It’s all too easy to walk around the supermarket and suddenly have items in your basket that you didn’t come in for!

As such, we’d really recommend you make a list of things you actually need when shopping – and stick to it! This doesn’t just apply to food shopping, but also clothes, beauty and homeware too.

Get support

Shopping releases endorphins and dopamine in the brain (the happy hormones). This heightens its appeal, particularly if you are struggling with your mental health.

If you are struggling with your mental wellbeing, remember that the University have dedicated Counselling and Mental Health Teams who are here to support you. You can also access anonymous support through the Togetherall community online, via the NHS, and through Mind’s Student Mental Health Hub.

We’d recommend you try to find new activities to do to replace the time you’d spend shopping. Consider watching a movie with friends or going for a walk.

It could even be just as simple as walking away for 5 minutes before making that purchase. This allows you to rationalise whether you truly want and need this item.

Ultimately, if you are struggling then please reach out – we are here to help!

Cashback sites are great ways of earning money from your purchases. Sites such as Top Cashback and QuidCo are the most popular.

First, make an account. Then, when you go to purchase from a retailer access the link through your Top Cashback or QuidCo account. The retailer will give the site a commission for the referral and they pass a portion of this on to you. The average cashback site user makes around £350 a year in cashback so it’s well worth signing up!