Money saving tips
How to cut down on your costs and make the most of your money.
Plan your spending
Work out your budget
Calculate how much money you will have for the term from your student loan and any other sources of income, such as a part-time job. Also work out what you need to spend. Make sure you think of all the essentials including accommodation, bills, food, travel and course costs. The amount left over is the amount you can spend on entertainment, new clothes and other non-essential items.
Set a weekly budget
Once you've worked out how much spending money you have for the term, break it down to a weekly budget and stick to it. No one can afford to party every night or buy new clothes every week. Some budgeting and banking apps can help you set limits and put money aside for different activities. You can also challenge yourself to spend-free days.
Plan your meals each week
This will help you save money and prevent food wastage.
Save money for special occasions and unexpected expenses.
Plan ahead by putting money aside for events such as Christmas and birthdays. If you can afford to save a little each month, it can mean less anxiety and stress in unexpected circumstances like your laptop breaking or not getting the summer job you were expecting.
Save money at home
Keep energy bills down
- Do full loads of washing every time. This will save money on energy bills or at the launderette.
- Wear extra layers of clothing instead of turning the heating on.
- Turn off lights when you leave a room.
- Don’t leave laptops and mobiles on charge. Switch the charger off to save energy.
- Only boil as much water as you need in a kettle.
Avoid food waste
- Freeze food that's close to its use-by date to have another day.
- If your vegetables are getting old, make some homemade soup and freeze it in portions.
- Cook in batches and freeze.
- Old bananas? Make a banana cake or mash and freeze them to have banana sorbet.
- Love Food Hate Waste has resources to help you reduce food waste, including recipes and ideas for using up leftovers.
Eat at home
- If you live near university, nip home for lunch or make a packed lunch to take out with you.
- Get into home baking and cooking. Challenge yourself to make something new each week.
- Share meals and take it in turns to cook with your housemates and friends.
Shop and save
- Meal plan, make a shopping list and stick to it.
- Never go shopping when you’re hungry.
- Supermarket shop after 7 pm and on Sunday afternoons to get bargains.
- Buy in bulk and share essentials with your housemates.
- Drop one brand level in the supermarket and see if you notice the difference.
- Buying fruit and veg from the local greengrocer is often cheaper than the supermarket.
Clothes, books and more
- Use the library for books whenever possible
- Buy second hand. This goes for clothes, books, furniture and anything else you might need. Check in charity shops and on local Facebook groups.
- Arrange a clothes swap between friends or look out for other clothes swap events in Bristol.
- Customise clothes and accessories and mend your clothes, rather than buying a new outfit.
- Get your hair cut by a trainee or at the local college.
- Get a TOTUM card. Always take it shopping and ask if there’s a student discount.
- Check out websites for weekly discount vouchers.
- Use loyalty cards for invisible savings and gifts.
Travel for less
Walk and cycle when you can - it saves money, keeps you fit and reduces your carbon footprint. Find out about hiring a bike.
Use public transport
Book travel in advance
Booking train and coach tickets in advance can save a lot of money. The best time to check for cheap trains is 12 weeks before you want to travel. You can also get 1/3 off standard fares with a 16-25 railcard.
Keep track of your spending
You can use budgeting and money tracking apps, and check your bank balance online. Keep track of your spending patterns and don’t ignore if you are overspending. Make the change now rather than ignoring and letting things spiral out of control.
Always open your post. Deal with bills and statements straight away, don’t let them pile up and go unchecked. If you miss a regular direct debit payment, this can affect your credit rating. Contact your bank or the relevant company immediately.
More money advice
These websites may provide you with additional useful information. We are not responsible for the content provided by external websites.
- National Student Money Week booklet 2020 (PDF, 1,654kB)
- Managing money as a student on the Money Advice Service website
- Working in term time and the holidays on the HMRC website
- Student Money Guides on the Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert website
- Many trusts and charities offer small grants or bursaries towards further study or to assist students in financial need.
- Money4medstudents website provides practical information and advice for medical students.