AD/Aff – Some of the following links are affiliates and will be marked with an asterisk (*). You can read my disclaimer here.
Today, I am sharing something slightly different to what I normally share. But saving money is something everyone wants to do, and it can be challenging as a student when you are thrust into the real world! I’m coming towards the end of my undergraduate degree so these are a few well-tested ways to save money as a student.
Cover photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash
One of my favourite websites for saving money is TopCashback because you get a % of the money back after you’ve paid. When I first started using it, Etsy was one of the merchants, but they are no longer there. Most stores are on there though, and if you have the extension it will show up when you click on the website. Some of my favourite shops that have TopCashback include National Express, Hostel World (30%!), Nobody’s Child and Waterstones. If you are about to make a fairly big purchase, like insurance, I would definitely sign up because you do get a lot of money back! My dad has signed up too and made well over £200.
Sometimes, TopCashback does £2 bonus cash back if you spend over £5 or £10 on a specific day (you have to activate it first). When this happens, I always buy a National Book Token through TopCashback because it already gets you 7% cashback, and then the added £2. There are lots of other gift cards like the Odeon, Costa, Cafe Nero, Pizza Hut etc. They also do a giveaway game around Easter, Christmas and other holidays. You click on different merchants to find a hummingbird, along with the daily clue, which opens to an object. This object then gives you 10p or contributes to 20p, 50p, £1, £5, £10, £20 or £100, and gives you a clue to the £1000 raffle. I normally get either 10p or 20p, and once got £1.
TopCashback has in-store cashback as well for selected stores, which you can generally redeem once. I have used Sainsbury’s in-store so far, and have Waitrose and National Express activated to use.
If you join TopCashback* using my link, we will both get a bonus of £10 once you have received your first £10 of cashback!
2. Meal Plan
Another way to save money as a student is to meal plan! It is so worth sitting down on a Sunday and planning what you are going to eat for lunch and dinner for the next 7 days. Once you have done this, write a shopping list. With a shopping list, you are much more likely to stick to the list and only buy what you need. Not only will you be saving money, but you will also be reducing your food waste.
3. Buy Supermarket’s Own Brand
Often, a supermarket’s own brand will taste just as nice, if not better than a brand name! This can save you a lot of money, so definitely essential for students. The only things I don’t tend to buy own brand are crisps, baked beans and Milkyway.
Continue reading: My favourite ways to save money as a student
4. Sign up for loyalty cards
Signing up for a loyalty card can save a lot of money, and even if you just do small shops, the points do add up! When I was living next to a Tesco, having the Clubcard was so useful because a lot of the products were cheaper with it. You also earn points, and they give you weekly discounts. I have had the Sainsbury’s Nectar card for awhile now too, but now they have adopted the same idea as the Clubcard. There are some products that you can get for cheaper with a Nectar card, so now is the best time to sign up! I have Lidl Plus gives you coupons, though I don’t think they are ever for products I would buy. I recently signed up for the My Waitrose card, because they give you money off things you frequently buy.
There are so many restaurant loyalty schemes, but my favourite is the Pizza Express Club. I have earned so many freebies through this app! I am in the gold reward club, which did take a fair amount of time to build to. This includes free dough balls, a Romana upgrade, a kid’s meal, a soft drink, large water, a hot drink or dolcetti, a cookbook, and a pizza or bottle of prosecco for my birthday! You can still get a lot of freebies in the Bronze or Silver sections too. After you have visited the Pizza Express restaurant, they send a survey and a code for free dough balls once completing it.
To get an extra bonus, use my referral code YJWKQS and after you have dined in for the first time, we will both get a free starter reward! To get the reward, download the app and check in on the app once the waiter has taken your order.
My friends and I love going to Pizza Express to have a pretty cheap meal!
5. Look In The Reduced Section
Another supermarket tip to save money as a student is looking in the reduced section. For me, the best thing to buy on its date is bread because I can freeze it. Buying vegetables, like mushrooms, on their date is a bit harder because it’s unlikely you will eat a whole box of mushrooms. If you are batch cooking, this can be very useful! But vegetables do last a lot longer than the date will say, sometimes a broccoli will last me three weeks without even a hint of going bad.
6. Batch Cook
Batch cooking is a great way to save money, especially if you buy the ingredients from the reduced section. For those days when you can’t be bothered to cook, rather than order a takeaway, you can defrost your meal and have it ready much quicker. I only tend to batch-cook lentil bolognese because it’s easy and I love it. Just leave the bolognese in the fridge (saves your fridge energy) in the morning and cook up some spaghetti in the evening. Easy meal complete! I’m not a fan of curry or chilli but those are good batch-cooked options too.
7. Don’t Choose A Bank With Overdraft
Bit of a controversial opinion, but I don’t think having an overdraft is the best idea. Some banks let you have a £1000 overdraft, but it basically means that you owe £1000. You will have to pay it back later, so you may as well just pay straight away. For me, it gives a false sense of security.
A lot of people like them, so if you do have one make sure the overdraft is interest rate free. Otherwise, you’ll end up owing extra money.
8. Make Use Of Free Trials
Although I was technically a student in college, I made sure to save my 6 months of Amazon Prime free trial for uni. I didn’t find it that good, apart from next-day delivery, but I tend to order on Amazon as a last resort. There are countless other free trials that aren’t student-only. You can find more on Save The Student.
These are my favourite ways to save money as a student! I have a post coming in a couple of weeks about my favourite survey sites, as a way to make a bit of extra cash.
What’s your favourite way to save money?
I need to look at Top Cashback. My bank, Halifax, does similar cashback offers. Great suggestions about saving money.
Thank you Jamie
Molly | Transatlantic Notes says
These are all really useful tips; I’m not a student but you’ve given me a few ideas to look into and find ways to boost my own money saving!
Glad it was helpful!
Fadima Mooneira says
I used to do these things too when I was a student. It helps me to save a lot. I believe I need to do these things again now. Live really needs a lot of budgeting these days. Thank you for sharing. Thanx for the reminder.
Thank you 🙂
Jenny in Neverland says
Some great tips here, not just for students but for anyone looking to save money! I always forget to use my cashback app and I kick myself for it! Loyalty cards are a good one too, there are some great savings for Tesco Clubcard users.
Thank you, cashback is my favourite!
Fransic verso says
My dad told me about supermarket brands and didn’t know before. It was cheaper and nice. Great ways!
Lisa's Notebook says
Tesco’s Club Card is brilliant – so good for saving money and you’ve just reminded me to use my points before they downgrade them at the end of this month too, thank you! x
Oh that’s a good point!
I start university in September and although I am living at home, this will be super helpful. Thank you for sharing these helpful tips!
Lauren – bournemouthgirl
Amazing, I hope you enjoy 🙂 x
Loyalty cards are a great way to save a bit of money and pick up some amazing offers! x
Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk
Roaring Pumpkin says
Some great tips in this post. I love reading about the money saving hacks other people use.
Thank you, me too x
These are great ways to save money as a student! I’m all for buying the supermarket’s own brand because it does taste as good as name-brand food but it’s more affordable. Also, looking in the reducing section is a good idea!