Saturday, February 21, 2015

Money Saving Checklist for Students in the World

Get student council tax discounts

Student council tax discountsLocal authorities control council tax support. Each one decides what support to offer its residents. Contact your local authority to ask what discounts and benefits are available in your area.

Nab free cash to study

Whether you're studying full or part-time, there may be a grant or a free course to help. They're dependent on your circumstances so it may not be easy to get one, but there's certainly no harm in trying.

Don't get the 'spend it before it goes' bug

When loan cash arrives, it's all too easy to celebrate with a big blow-out. It may be tempting, but don't do it. Instead, to help you budget, use the free interactive Student Calculator tool from education charity Brightside, and read the budgeting tips box below.

Get the biggest 0% overdraft student account

Big banks love tempting students with 0% overdrafts and free stuff, then relying on their custom for decades to come. Read on for five key points to help choose your student account.

Don't overpay tax on any jobs you do

Don't overpay tax on summer jobsIf you work during term time or over the summer to keep you afloat, make sure you're paying the right amount of income tax.
Students are taxed just like anyone else. If you earn less than £10,000 a year, you shouldn't pay any tax - the same for someone who is 20, 30, 40 or 50.
If students are employed (as opposed to self-employed) and taxed via Pay As You Earn (PAYE), they are automatically charged tax on earnings, so may need to reclaim it at the end of the year.
If you're a student and total earnings for the 2014/15 tax year come to less than £10,000, and you paid tax, see the HMRC website for how to apply for a refund.
Check yours: To see what you should be paying if you earn over the threshold, use the Income Tax Checker. It's also handy for working out what your take home pay will be after you graduate. See full 2014/15 Tax Rates.

Grab a student discount card

An NUS Extra card costs £12, but it'll get you discounts online and in store with over 160 retailers for a year.

Get a TV licence refund for summer hols

Picture of TV A colour TV licence is £145.50 for a year (or £49 if you're lucky enough to have a black 'n' white set). But if you've a full three months left on your licence at the end of the academic year and won't use it before it expires, you can get a refund for this.

Find the cheapest gas & elec to save £100s

If you aren't living in halls, it's likely you'll have to pay for gas and electricity on top of rent. It's possible to make hefty savings simply by switching provider.

Don't buy new books - rent, borrow or buy secondhand instead

Picture of library booksAt 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 textbooks can really break the bank and leave you out of pocket.
The uni library is likely to have the texts you need, but in the first few weeks of term there's usually a rush on them, meaning you could be left waiting. So, instead of rushing out and buying them new, see if the the local library has a copy. At the very least you can take time assessing how often you'll need it.
Alternatively, scout around campus, department noticeboards and even eBay (see our eBay buying tips for help) for anyone selling books they no longer need. If no new editions have been released since they bought them last year, you're getting exactly the same book, possibly just with a worn-in look. Charity shops are also good for cheap textbook hunting, especially in your university town.
And thanks to the internet, consider year-long book rentals. Sites like CourseSmart will loan you the e-version of textbooks for 360 days, for up to 50% less than buying the text new.
But if you do decide you need a brand new copy, don't buy without doing a little research. Always start by doing a comparison - our MegaShopBot tool takes the leg work out of this for you, searching a host of price camparison websites in seconds, finding you the cheapest price.

Ensure parents pay their share

Your parents may decide to give you money to help while you're at uni, if they can afford it. But for most, the amount of maintenance loan you get depends on their parents' income; those who come from wealthier homes get a smaller loan.

Bag free office software

Picture of computer If you're kitting out a laptop, PC or Mac for uni, you can save on software by downloading the legit free equivalents. There are loads of different options available.

Free eBay tool uncovers hidden local bargains

eBay bargain finder picture If you're kitting out your student digs with larger items, eg, a sofa for an unfurnished lounge or a TV for your new room, pick-up only items on eBay are often cheaper as there are fewer bids.

Learn to haggle

Chutzpah!Many places will give you a discount if you flash your student or NUS Extra card. Yet even if they don't offer a student discount, why not ask for one? Many places will help you out if you haggle. It's chutzpah time never buy without a try!

Hunt for hidden student discounts

picture of magnifying glassAlways ask for student discounts when you're out and about. These often aren't advertised, but several places still offer them even if you don't have an NUS Extra card.

Student fees shake-up only hits those who started in or after Sept 2012

picture of piggy bank on calculatorThe student loan system changed for new undergrads who started in or after September 2012. Any students who started before then stay on the previous system. If that's you, and you started in 2011/2012, you'll be paying £3,465-a-year max (2014/15 rate) in tuition fees, though it'll go up with inflation in future years.
But for people starting a course now, all institutions have been allowed to charge up to £6,000 and many will charge up to £9,000, providing they make extra provisions for bursaries for poorer students. See the Student Loans Mythbusting guide for more.

Do a proper budget

picture of abacusThis is where you match up money coming in with what's going out. It's incredibly important, or you may have a great first week splashing the cash, but spend the rest of term struggling to survive.

A company's job is to make money from you

picture of coins As the year goes on, the costs of starting higher education quickly add up. So before you shell out on extras, don't forget: a company's job is to make money from you.

Get free cash to study in Europe

picture of globe and booksIf you want to study part of your degree in one of 33 participating European countries, grants are available from the British Council as part of the Erasmus scheme.

Use less energy

Picture of sauna thermometerIt isn't just which company you pay, but how much you use. Cutting energy costs is a mix of big and little things. A few small changes will help bring your bill down.

Don't forget water bills

Again, if you aren't in halls, check with your landlord to see if your water bill is included in your rent. If not, remember to budget for it, using the table in the Water Bills guide for a rough indication of how much to expect.

Don't assume student insurers are cheaper

Home contents insurance for a student house isn’t always easy to get. This is often because most policies like to cover the house, not the person, making it tricky if you've flatmates. Yet there are a few tricks to get round this:

Slash car insurance costs

Slash car insurance Finding affordable car insurance can be a nightmare, especially for younger drivers – the average for a 17-22 year old is £1,096. The Young Drivers' Car Insurance guide has a step-by-step system to slice off every spare penny for under 22s, but if you're older and heading to uni, see our normal Car Insurance guide.

Battle your mobile bill

If you regularly face a palpitation-inducing mobile phone bill, there's a mass of tips 'n' tricks to help.

Split your train tickets

Tickety SplitThis is the big trick everyone should know. Instead of buying tickets for the whole journey, bizarrely, buying separate tickets for its constituent parts can slash the price – even though you're on exactly the same train.

Taking a break? Work out what it'll cost

picture of paperworkIf you're currently studying, but are thinking of taking a year out, make sure you know how much it'll cost you.

Create your own Amazon bargain basement page

Picture of piggy bank in sunglassesAmazon often offers 75%-off and better reductions, but it directs people to other areas, sending them to higher profit margin products instead. Yet there's a geeky way to manipulate Amazon's links to show all heavily-reduced bargains.

Quickly turn old mobiles into cash

picture of mobile phoneA mass of companies offer to recycle your mobile for money. This is a really quick 'n' easy way to make extra cash if you've old handsets lying around.

Free festivals, museums & art galleries

picture of guitar with amp If you're after live music on the cheap, the Free Festivals guide has full listings of the top gigs nationwide. In it, you'll find totally free festivals across the UK, covering everything from rock and jazz to carnivals and outdoor theatre.

Don't chuck best-befores away needlessly

picture of strawberries Do you know the difference between a best-before and a display-until date? If not, it's likely you're binning a lot of food unnecessarily.

Not all debts are the same

It's easy to think "I've got to get a student loan, why not borrow a little more?". But you need to understand how special student loans are.

Try the supermarket downshift challenge

picture of shopping basket This is a quick 'n' easy way to make decent savings on your grocery shopping, particularly if you're still just buying big brands you're used to at home.

The best things in life are freebies!

Picture of freebies stampThere's a mass of goodies available for free at the click of a mouse, if you know where to look.

Get on the net for nowt

picture of toy train carrying WWW lettersIf you're sharing a house, it's likely you'll want to get on the web. But before you take a pricey contract, you should consider some alternatives, including checking out our Cheap Broadband guide for the top deals.

You don't need a TV licence for movie streaming sites

If you’d rather not fork out for a TV licence, you can watch movies and box sets legally for free via online film streaming sites – plus the big boon with these is you don’t need a TV licence if these are all you’re watching.

Don't stick with student accounts after uni

Picture of mortar board Don't stick with your student bank account when you graduate. By switching to specialist deals for graduates, you may be able to gain £100s a year.

Sell old CDs, DVD and games

 Cash for old media Several sites let you quickly trade in old CDs, DVDs, computer games and Blu-rays for cash. The sites are easy to use and give instant quotes, so if you've got loads to get rid of, you could speedily make a bit of extra money.

Get paid for your opinion

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 the full list of top picks in the Survey Sites guide including some which pay up to £3.

Warning! Store cards are the devil's debt

Store cards are the devil's debt!Most store cards charge a hideous 30% interest or more, and even the best aren't cheaper than bank's credit cards, so don't get sucked in by the sales patter.

Get a part-time or temp job

While studying's a priority, it's commonly accepted many students will work. So if you don't have enough cash, don't overborrow (and especially don't get a payday loan) try to find a job instead.

Not good with cash? Teach yourself

It's likely you came out of school with very little – if any – training for the consumer decisions you'll have to make every day as an adult.

Get a railcard

Consider a 16-25 Railcard if you spend £90+ a year. These cut a third off your train ticket and they're also valid for full-time students of any age - a huge plus.

Some students are eligible for benefits

BenefitsSome students in special circumstances, such as those with kids or disabilities – might qualify for a special support grant instead. This will be the same amount as a maintenance grant.

Learn to cook (!)

Learn to cook! There's no need to live off pricey takeaways at uni while longing for a home-cooked meal. Take the time to learn the basics and it'll help to stretch your cash much further, and it's far healthier too.

Nab extra travel discounts

Picture of busIf you're off home at the end of term (and you can't coax a friend or parent to give you a lift), it's possible to find extra discounts if you know where to look.

Get free financial advice

The National Association of Student Money Advisers (Nasma) has advisers in many universities. Alternatively, local charities Citizens Advice and StepChange Debt Charity also offer free help and support. These can be a massive help if you're struggling financially.

Time your train ticket booking carefully

Buy 12 weeks earlyTiming your purchase accurately can make a real difference, either well in advance, or last-minute.

Get extra help and support

Uni can be a stressful time – financial, social and academic pressures can quickly add up. If you're struggling, don't suffer in silence. Talk to your tutor, parents or a close friend if you feel you can, but there are also organisations that can help.

Investigate 'uni access funds' - poss £100s

If you're struggling, many universities have access funds to help. These aren't always advertised, but it's well worth speaking to your uni or the National Association of Student Money Advisers (Nasma) to find out more and ask for how to apply.

Use Money Mantras before ANY buys

Before spending on anything, use Martin's money mantras. If you say 'NO' to any, DON'T BUY!

Save in a ISA, even if just short term

Save in a ISAIf you've got any spare cash, don't leave it languishing in a current account earning 0.1% interest. Put it into a Top Savings Account and it'll earn interest, so it's worth doing even if only for the short term.

Text for nowt

picture of mobile phoneTexting can make up a serious chunk of your phone bill. Text 20 times a day at 10p/text and you'll spend over £700 a year, so there are big savings to be had.

Beware borrowing on credit cards

picture of credit cardsBe extremely wary of credit cards. These are best avoided while you're studying, as if you don't have an income, you'll really struggle to repay the debts. This means the interest will compound and build quickly, leaving you owing serious cash.

Don't forget your discount vouchers

Don't forget your discount vouchers Before you hit the shops, remember to check the Discount Vouchers page and the High Street Sales diary for a massive compendium of all the latest printable vouchers, codes and deals open to all.

Don't use payday loans to make ends meet

Payday lenders have sprung up nationwide, promising quick cash loans until you get paid. Yet interest rates are exorbitant, and the cost of the debt can easily snowball to epic proportions. If you're struggling to make ends meet, instead contact the National Association of Student Money Advisers (Nasma), who will help with better alternatives.

Share your tips on the student forum

Picture of people chatting The Student MoneySaving forum board is a fantastic place to share your ideas and swap tips whether you're after student shopping and eating tips, info on bursaries, or help splitting student bills. It's free to join, so get chatting!


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