/ Money, Parenting

Student Finance Day – share your budgeting tips

I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence or not, but one of the most expensive weeks in the student uni calendar – Freshers’ Week – also coincides with Student Finance Day. Have you got any budgeting tips to share?

Student Finance Day gives older generations of students the chance to pass on their pearls of wisdom to 400,000 fresh-faced Freshers, each with the heady responsibility (and excitement) of spending the big lump sum that’s just appeared in their bank accounts.

It’s also an opportunity for universities and colleges to raise the profile of their student welfare centres, where students can access advice and financial support if they need it.

Which? University asked almost 11,000 students about their university experiences, including how they managed their finances. Many of them offered practical and ingenious tips to help stretch the budget and make ends meet when cash gets low.

Buy your books second-hand from former students

A first year geography student from the University of Southampton said:

‘Most faculties run second-hand book sales from past students which can be cost effective, and it also means you can sell on your books when you’ve finished with them.’

Try cheaper brands

A second year psychology student at the University of Portsmouth said:

‘Just because you don’t know a certain brand of food doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, it’s usually better than the known brands (and cheaper too!). It’s best to not be afraid of trying new things instead of sticking to what you know from home.’

A rail card is definitely worth it

A first year languages student from the University of Hull said:

‘A railcard is a must if you regularly make train journeys. Mine has paid itself off three times over in one year!’

Looking back on my own uni experience, I can think of two tactics I used to great effect to make my budget stretch, so I could maintain a healthy social life.

  • Buy an NUS card. You have to pay a small amount of money upfront (currently £12 for 12 months), but you can save money on lots of products and services all the time that you’re a student.
  • Shopping on the reduced shelf in supermarkets. Now, I had this down to a real art. I noticed that regular shoppers at Waitrose tended to avoid the reduced aisle – which made it easy pickings for me when I was a student.

Do you have any top tips from your uni days to pass on to Freshers this week?


Just a couple of thoughts about books, from a recently retired lecturer.

Check that secondhand books are the current edition or check their suitability of older editions with your lecturer. Sometimes previous editions are very similar and can be bought cheaply. Don’t rely on guessing this or advice from other students.

If you buy secondhand books, you will probably not have access to the additional information on the publisher’s website. Even if you are given the password, access may be limited to one year. It is worth finding out whether past students found this information useful.

Consider sharing books if you are living with another student taking the same module. If there are two useful books you will have an advantage over those students who buy only one.

My housemates and I were also adept at strategic supermarket shopping – we even worked out the best times of day to pick up reduced items from Co-op… frankly, we still do that now… ! It’s a good idea to try and cook with your housemates too, taking it in turns to do a meal each night, that way you eat properly, don’t over eat so much, save money, and get to know your new housemates!

It’s too much of a hassle of pick up bargains at
closing hours of supermarket… marinated 9 or 10 chicken legs for example can be had for 99p where otherwise cost £3.99.

You can buy a packet of fresh chicken legs at 225p a kilo from Lidl and marinate and bake or roast it to your heart’s delight, and fresher too.

Food shopping online: As a student who didn’t just want to live off Pot Noodles and ready meals, food was one of my main expenses. But I found that shopping online worked out far cheaper – you can keep track of how much it’s all costing and you’re more likely to spend less when you’re not face-to-face with all the supermarket offers and enticing smells from the bakery! Delivery charges were no problem if you split them between your housemates.

Student discount days: Where there’s a university, often there are lots of student discounted services available on certain days of the week. I always used to get my hair done on a student day, go shopping on extra student discount evenings or out for meals on quieter weeknights when vouchers were valid. It meant I could still enjoy a social life/ treating myself, but at a much more student-friendly cost.

This may be back to front – but as a mature student who works full time, I find that being a student actually saves me money. I get to have an NUS card, which saves me money on loads of things like clothes and Amazon purchases, and I’m too busy to have much of a social life!

Credit Action says:
20 September 2012

We recently interviewed students for our Student Finance Day video, they told us that budgeting and planning is important and also, that there are emergency funds available in case students find themselves in a jam! http://bit.ly/PWt2Nc

A caveat abt law books, they get notoriously quickly out of date…. come term opening time OR later, a pedlar wd come round, cd offer a 25-35% discount off branded prices… the more enterprising wd source cheaper books from overseas markets, but beware such books can be of inferior quality or the font size can be smaller in size.

The digital textbook has arrived particularly for those aiming for very high academic or professional honours.