How to Save Money as a Student: Spending Habits & Saving Hacks Explained

  |     |   Lifestyle

Student life is often synonymous with being strapped for cash, and with party season around the corner, as well as gift shopping and end-of-year travels, university students are really feeling the pinch. Fortunately, a few simple saving hacks can help you sail into the new year without breaking the bank!

Student Money Worries

Living on a student budget is tough. Studies in 2018 revealed that 78% of students worry about being able to make ends meet, and 70% say they wish they’d had a better financial education before starting university. One in five (18%) have never budgeted!

When it comes to student loans, many are also lacking in understanding. Around three in five students worry about repaying their debt, while one in two say they don’t fully understand their loan agreement, and 70% don’t know what the interest rate on their loan is.

Student Spending Habits Explained

After the costs of going out and food, clothes are the biggest spend for young people in the UK, with more than three quarters shopping online for their favourite buys. Despite the love of spending, studies show a growing number of students are interested in better ways to budget and avoid debt, seeing themselves as savers instead of spenders. Less than half of 18-35-year-olds own a credit card, and around 93% said they don’t want one. For students, attending university has been getting more expensive as living costs have gone up across the UK. Students today spend an average of £806.62 each month, which is £37 more than in 2018. The average student also receives around £138.50 a month from their parents, which shows how expenses are outweighing the extra support they have available.


Tuition Fees on the Rise

Studies show that the average English student will graduate with debts amounting to more than £50,000. The OECD reports that British students pay some of the highest tuition fees and accumulate more debt than foreign graduates.


Saving vs Spending

Despite the high cost of tuition, many young adults today are making smarter choices to help pay off their debts and become financially secure. A recent survey on financial security revealed that Millennials are one of the most financially secure generations, with 62% of 25-34-year-olds claiming to feel financially secure, compared to just 46% of 55-64-year-olds. So will Gen Z follow in their footsteps?

Teen spending is contributing £1.7 billion to the UK economy every year, with those old enough to go to university spending the most (18-year-olds are reported to spend £58 a week and 19-year-olds £68 a week). 84% of this spending went towards clothes, socialising, food and gaming.

While they are flashing plenty of cash, it seems most are becoming more aware of the importance of budgeting and saving. One in four teens has a monthly budget, and 38% say they look for the best deals before making their buying decision. A massive 81% also say they put money away every month. Despite the high cost of studies and student living, it appears that future students are geared up to cope with these pressures through savvy saving and spending habits.


Average Student Spending

After rent, spend for university students each month looks something like this:

  • Groceries – £92
  • Transport – £44
  • Household bills – £32
  • Mobile phone – £17
  • Course materials – £15
  • Health – £13

While the above shows a breakdown of student spending on essentials, spending on non-essentials is also high, with £49 spent on going out, £34 on takeaways, £31 on clothes and shopping, and £10 on gifts and charity.

There has also been a rise in the popularity of “buy now, pay later” services which make impulse buys and non-essential spending that much easier for cash-strapped students. Services like Klarna, Clearpay, LaterPay and Laybuy offer shoppers the option to delay or spread their payments – which is convenient but can quickly add up to yet another debt in the long run. Klarna alone has 3 million active users in the UK, showing the widespread growth of this spending trend.


How to Save Money as a Student

Despite all these costs, there are still opportunities to boost your budget. A few smart money-saving tips for students will help you weather the festive season and develop good saving habits all year long.

  1. Price Trackers
A platform like Idealo will help you to track how the price of a specific product has changed over time, helping you to keep track of upward or downward trends and decide when the best time would be to make your purchase. Idealo will also help you to find the cheapest place to buy that product. This is great if you’re preparing to do some Christmas shopping, or just hoping to spoil yourself with that must-have new device.

  2. Money-Saving Apps

Install a student budgeting app on your phone to help you save and avoid overspending. Chip is an automatic savings bot that will monitor your spending once you grant it access to your bank account.

Chip will look at your incoming and outgoing cash, and calculate how much you can afford to save each week. Then it will put that money aside for you – this is a super-easy way to save a little extra without even trying.

Chip is also currently the only automatic savings bot to offer interest on your savings – refer friends to the app, and you can earn up to 5% interest.

Curve helps you to streamline your spending, by allowing you to spend from any of your accounts using just one card. This makes it easier to track how much you’re spending and from which accounts. You can also use your Curve card to draw money from ATMs.

  3. Smart Shopping Apps

It doesn’t have to be Black Friday for you to snag an unexpectedly great deal. There are some savvy shopping apps out there that will help you to find a bargain any day of the year.

Vouchercloud is a popular, user-friendly app that will help you to find the top featured deals in your area, based on your current location. Simply click the “Use voucher” button when you pay to get your discount code. There is also a handy “track your savings” function so you can see how much you’ve saved using the app.

CheckoutSmart is an app that helps you to claim cashback on what you buy. You’ll be provided with a daily list of items with cashback offers, as well as which supermarkets they’re available at. Find what you need, submit your receipt via the app, and earn your cashback reward. This is great for those everyday items you need to stock up on.

  4. New Year Savings

After the expense of the festive season, it’s important to be frugal in the New Year. Use your apps and newsletter memberships to keep a lookout for January sales, and start the new uni year off with a student discount card like TOTUM or UNiDAYS. Cards like these will help you to get cost-saving discounts on dining, fashion, travel and more throughout the year.

Armed with these smart tips, it’s easier to enjoy a stress-free holiday season that won’t break the bank!

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