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Student saving tips

Thinking about the cost of living? With thanks to the team at leading accounting and professional services firm PwC, we're sharing some top tips for students to save.


The best way to manage your money at university is to create a budget. One way you can do this is by setting up a simple google sheets/Excel spreadsheet (if you get an office job when you graduate, spreadsheets will take over your life anyway so you may as well start now!). There are many free templates you can find online.

  • Income: Start off by adding up all of your income. When does your student loan arrive and how much will it be? Do you earn money through any other means, such as a part time job or a university grant? Remember, your student loan arrives in three payments across the year, so you’ll need to divide it into a monthly budget.

  • Fixed expenses: Next, add up all of your known expenses, for example rent, bills and commuting costs.

  • Variable expenses: Finally, estimate costs which you know will occur, but aren’t sure of the exact amount. These are things like food, study materials, and clothes. And yes, you’re going to want to explicitly budget for nights out! After your first few months at university you’ll get a better idea of how much you actually spend on these things and can adjust your budget accordingly.

Hopefully, your income will be greater than your expenses and you have successfully budgeted. If not, it’s time to look at areas where you can save:

  • Meal planning: Eating out or relying on takeaways, whilst nice for a treat or celebration, adds up quickly. Create a shopping list of essentials and stick to it! Budget supermarkets often have good quality food at low prices. Buying food in bulk saves you money - when comparing different sizes of the same product look at the ‘price per 100g’ on the label and choose the cheapest one. This is the best value for money.

  • Transport: If you commute to university, saving on transport costs is essential. Investigate student discount or season passes for public transport. A 16-25 railcard gets you ⅓ off all train tickets and a three year card only costs £70.

  • Textbooks: Textbooks are very expensive, and you rarely need to buy them new. Check if the textbooks you need are available at the university library or consider buying used or digital versions. Also, final year students are likely to be selling the textbooks you need at a much cheaper price.

Make your money work

Rubbish interest rates are a thing of the past. Interest rates are now climbing and banks are working harder than ever to convince you to deposit your student loan with them. Ensuring you save with the bank offering the best perks can make a big difference, and all that’s needed is a bit of research.

Key things to consider:

  • 0% Overdraft: A 0% arranged overdraft allows you to borrow money from your current account. 0% means that no interest is payable on the amount you borrow - you pay back the same amount that you borrowed. This is a great safety net for emergencies. However, this is not free money and does not last forever. It must be paid back a certain number of years after you graduate otherwise interest charges will be payable.

  • Incentives: Many banks offer great incentives for setting up a student current account with them, such as a free railcard or even cash.

  • Cashback: Some bank accounts offer cashback. This means, if you meet the criteria (which is often making a minimum payment in each month, which can simply come from another bank account you own), you get some money back on your spending the following month.

In all cases, make sure you fully understand the conditions of any bank account before signing up. Many banks are happy to have a conversation with you over the phone or even in branch to explain everything to you. .

Huge thanks to the PwC volunteering team for creating this article!

Putting your learning into practise

If you'd like to learn more and gain personal finance skills to help you in future, join our WYZ Money course for free.

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