Personal Finance

Saving money as a student

As a student you’re likely on a tight budget, which means saving money is a good habit to get into. From ways to manage your budget, to the right insurance to help save money, there are lots of ways to make a big impact on your outgoings. Contents

Managing your budget

Managing your budget is essential as a student. Your student loan and maintenance loan will arrive in three installments over the academic year, so you need to make it last by spending that money in an effective way.

Best bank accounts for students UK

Before you head off to university, you should sort out a student bank account. Banks will typically offer student accounts with special offers, so don’t stick with a regular account. You could get a free overdraft, free National Union of Students discount cards or free railcards, for example.

To apply for an account, you will need to be accepted on or currently studying on a full-time university course. However, each banking provider may have their own specific eligibility criteria.

Most of the large high-street banks will offer a 0% overdraft, typically of £500, £1,000 or more which will help you throughout the year. It’s still a good idea not to go into your overdraft and use it as a buffer, but it’s there if you really need it.

How to create a budget

Managing your money is an important part of university. The best place to start is creating a budget, which begins by being realistic with your expenditure. The Complete University Guide says students can often underestimate their expenditure by as much as 50%, so try to be accurate.

You should take into consideration your accommodation costs, bills, daily expenditure like food, alcohol and clothes, insurance, and of course, tuition fees. When you’re judging these costs and how much you expect to spend, it’s always a good idea to overestimate slightly.

Once you’ve got your monthly estimate, you need to see whether your student loan can cover this expenditure. If you’re a bit short, you should see if there’s an area you could cut back on, try to secure some additional income to cover the shortfall, or explore other ways of how to pay for university such as grants and bursaries.

There are a range of student budget calculators out there which can help estimate your monthly budget based on the university you go to. You can also use a budgeting app like MoneyDashboard or Emma.

Budget tips

Here are some other tips to help you save money as a student:

  • Pay off your entire credit card balance each month to avoid paying high interest charges
  • Don't dip into an overdraft for the same reason
  • See if your parents' contents insurance covers your possessions while in student housing
  • Improve your credit score by registering to vote (a higher credit score => lower interest rates on borrowed money)
  • Before a night out, decide how much you're happy to spend and try to stick to it
  • Cook for yourself where possible, as home-cooked meals are a fraction of the price of takeaways and eating food prepared out
  • When you need or want new clothes, considering hunting through charity shops or buying from sites like eBay
  • Look for student discounts

Student insurance UK

Insurance is an easy way to help save money as a student. When at university, you’re on a tight budget, which means it’s not easy to replace items - especially if we’re talking about expensive laptops or smartphones. Insurance can help you save money in the long run, and there are ways to make sure you get the best deal possible.

Gadget insurance

Gadget insurance is important for helping to protect your most important pieces of equipment while at university. Devices such as laptops or tablets are essential for doing your work, and they can be expensive to replace - especially on a student budget.

By taking out gadget insurance, you could protect your devices should they be stolen, damaged, or lost, meaning you could get a replacement paid for by your insurer. As with all insurance policies, it’s a good idea to shop around so you can get the best priced policy, and only cover your essential gadgets.

How to save money on contents insurance

Contents insurance is similar to gadget insurance as it will help protect your possessions from damage, loss or even theft. They can cover and fund the replacement of a range of items, from gadgets like laptops and smartphones, to other items such as a bicycle, or jewellery.

A cheap way to get your contents covered is to see if you’re covered on your parents’ home insurance. This depends on individual policies and add-ons, but the extra premium here may be cheaper than an individual policy for yourself.

The average cost of UK contents insurance starts from around £56, but the average person can spend around £125 on contents insurance.The price depends on a few things. Namely, your location, the level of cover, the amount of excess, whether you’re in a private house, shared house or halls of residence, and what you want to be covered for (such as damage, loss or theft) can impact the price you pay.

You can save money on content insurance in a few ways. Firstly, value your items accurately. Make sure not to overestimate how much your items are worth, as this will only increase the price.

Secondly, increase the excess you’re willing to pay. Although it may mean you pay an additional payment if you make a claim, the overall insurance bill will be reduced.

Of course with all insurance, you should compare quotes. Use price comparison sites such as on NimbleFins to get the best option possible on home content insurance. When you do choose a policy to buy, make sure you pay upfront if possible. Choosing to pay monthly instead of annually may mean you pay more than you should.

How to save money on car insurance

Car insurance is a big expenditure for students with a car at university. With budgeting being a big issue, choosing the right car insurance is essential. Getting the right deal is especially important if you’re a young driver, as going alone on your own policy can push the price up a lot.

Although the average cost of UK car insurance is £438 a year, the average cost for teenage drivers can be in the range of £1,000 to £2,000 a year as they’re the most risky age group. The average car insurance cost for drivers in their 20s is on average £850, dropping to £720 for drivers aged 25 years old.

When choosing car insurance for students, it’s always best to use a price comparison site. This will give you the cheapest possible prices from a range of different insurers, leaving you in the best position.

The time you’re likely to get the cheapest rates when buying car insurance is around 3 weeks ahead of when you need a new policy to start. The closer you are to your new start date, the more expensive it’s likely to be.

If you can, pay for the entire policy upfront rather than paying in monthly installments. Paying monthly often means you pay more than you need to.

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