Keeping freshers financially frugal

This is the time of the year when college students will be looking at their university options for later this year. However, what most of them won’t realise is the cost of student life, especially those who will be living away from home. To help those who will become ‘freshers’ this September we’ve listed some tips to help keep you financially frugal when you start uni.


Student bank accounts

All the banks will be offering lots of incentives to encourage students to open accounts with them. Things such as 0% overdraft facilities, free insurance etc etc.  However, we would recommend you do the following:


Shop around for the best 0% overdraft dealMost students will need an overdraft facility whilst at university, so aim to get the best amount for as long as possible.

-Never go over your overdraft limitIf you go over your overdraft limit the charges will be very high which you may struggle to pay back. This will lead to further charges and more debt so please do not go over your limit.


Check you don’t pay too much tax when working

To keep yourself afloat you will probably take on a part time job during term time, or full time over the summer, make sure you’re paying the right amount of income tax. For the 2018/19 tax year if you earn less than £11,850 a year you shouldn’t pay any income tax.

This income tax calculator will show you what you will pay if you go over the threshold. It’s also handy for working out what your take-home pay will be after you graduate.


Get an NUS Extra Card

An NUS Extra card unlocks more than 200 student discounts in the UK, both in-store and online. It costs £12 for a one-year card, £22 for two years and £32 for three years. Anyone aged 16+ and studying in further or higher education either full or part-time can get for one. Your course must have started, and there’s no upper age limit.

Discounts exclusive to NUS Extra cardholders include discounts on cinema tickets, gym memberships, travel, take-aways and restaurants, shopping plus lots more. Click here to see the whole list of discounts available.


Don’t buy new books

At the start of a new term, it’s likely you’ll be given a list of books you’ll need over the year. Depending on your course, some books can really break the bank and leave you out of pocket. The university library is likely to have the books you need, but in the first few weeks of term there’s usually a rush on them, meaning you may not get your hands on a copy. So, instead of rushing out and buying new, see if the local library in town has a copy.

Why not also consider year-long book rentals. Sites like Vitalsource will loan you the e-version of books for up to a year and can be up to 50% less than buying it new.


Get Microsoft Office for free

Most students with an academic email address can get Microsoft’s entire Office suite of programs for free. To check if you’re eligible (those at 99.9% of universities and 87% of colleges are), enter your academic email address on the Microsoft website. You’ll be asked to log in through your institution’s online portal and if you’re eligible, you’ll be redirected to a page where you can download the software.


Get paid to drink

Those aged 18 or 19 can sign up with Serve Legal as a mystery shopper to check whether establishments licensed to sell alcohol ask for ID at the point of sale. This means you can enjoy many students’ favourite pastime and get paid have a drink. Visits typically take between three and 12 minutes and you’ll be paid for your time (typically between £6 and £8, but sometimes up to £20 per visit), plus expenses, and get to keep – or drink – anything you buy.


Give your opinion and get paid for it

It’s possible to earn £100s a year to take part in online surveys, which are often short enough to fill in during breaks between lectures, find a list of survey sites by clicking here.


Cook your own meals

If you rely on expensive takeaways or ready meals your pockets will always be empty. Take the time to learn some cooking basics, not only is it healthier but it will help to stretch your cash much further too. Check out some cheap easy to make home-made recipes here.