Shopping. We need to do it, there’s no escape and sometimes it can get really expensive. Food, clothes, drinks and all the other good stuff can rack up a big bill and unless your parents are Bill and Melinda Gates you might have a finite amount in your bank account. But don’t worry, I’m here to help you out with my top tips for saving money when you’re a student, and I’m not even going to charge you for it.
Make use of student discount cards
You’re a student so get a student card. One of the best cards is the NUS Extra card, providing over 100 deals including 50% off Spotify, 5% off Amazon, 10% off ASOS, 40% off Pizza Express and 5% off Apple.
There is a cost to the card, so if you don’t want to pay at all for discounts, you can still use your university ID to get discounts elsewhere.
I’ve been able to save over £150 each year on train tickets and clothes just by flashing my NUS card or Young Person’s Railcard. Just make sure your savings are greater than the cost of getting the card, as if not you’re going in the wrong direction.
Discover Amazon’s ‘secret’ warehouse
Amazon is a great place to get almost anything you want or need. But you can get almost anything for less at Amazon Warehouse. The goods are heavily discounted because they are typically returned to Amazon, from there they are sorted to check they meet good standards and are then re-sold for significant savings with all the same guarantees.
Start shopping in the evenings
After 6pm many supermarkets mark down items they want to get rid of to make room for new stock. You get all the stuff you need and a little extra for cheaper than everyone else. I always take this opportunity to buy more expensive items like meats and fish (I can save quite a bit, of course that’s all spent on chocolate, but that’s another story).
Shop online & compare
Save time by comparing the cost at mySupermarket.co.uk. The site adds up the prices of big-name retailers to show who’s cheapest on each item, and claims it can save you around 30% on each trip. Even if you don’t buy your basket, you can still compare prices.
Get rewarded for loyalty
You’re going to be at university for at least 3 years, so get yourself a reward card. You can get money-off, free stuff and all sorts of discounts. Get ones from your favourite and frequent shops. Some of the most rewarding cards include Boots Advantage and Tesco. Bonus tip: share your cards with your housemates to rack up even more points.
Buy in bulk
Most items cost way less when you buy them in bulk – pasta, rice, and potatoes are cheap and don’t spoil quickly. You might also want to buy toilet paper, soap and toothpaste, you’ll need them every day, all year round. Just make sure you have a place to put them first.
Let me break it down for you: pasta, a 1kg bag costs around £1.30 whilst a 3kg bag costs around £3.00. A saving of 90p. OK, not that impressive I know; but do that every 1 or 2 weeks and across a number of items. Adds up doesn’t it.
Your student ID gets you a free ride to the centre of MediaCityUK. There you’ll find the Lowry Outlet with a range of shops (including: Next, Gap and M&S) that stock your favourite labels at significantly discounted rates, some as high as 70%.
Make lists and budgets (but remember to treat yourself sometimes)
A lot of people spend a lot of money on things they don’t need or don’t even really want. By creating a list and setting a budget you shop smarter and save a lot of money.
You may not like it but do it, the amount of times I’ve forgotten something and then bought the most useless stuff when I shop without a list is unbelievable.