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10 Money-Saving Hacks Every Student Must Read

Worried about how to manage your student budget? Economics and Accounting student Sandisiwe Nyanda from South Africa is here with her top tips on making your money go further.

Found yourself cringing when checking your bank balance and recent transactions? Has bad money management left you surviving on toast and water for a week while you waited for pay day? Looking for new ideas on how to save money? I’ve got your back with clever tips I use to save that coin and still enjoy myself as a student.

Sandi on Queen's campus (Pst! Those Economics and Accounting books are full of money-saving secrets)

1. Make a budget – and stick to it.

Planning what you need and want to spend money on will allow you to manage it better. I know, it may seem like too much admin, but this doesn’t mean writing down exactly how much money you plan on spending. Just make a list of all the things you are going to spend money on monthly. For most students this is groceries, toiletries and going out. 

Remember stick to your lists when you are at the store and never go to the store without a list because that is how unnecessary purchases happen - especially when you have just received money.

 

Sandi's clever budgeting allows her to enjoy Belfast's legendary nightlife

2. Be smart at the grocery store.

Rule number 1: Do not enter a shop while hungry. Believe you me, your hungry tummy can land you £5 pounds over budget in the pastries section at Lidl. 

Rule number 2: Shop in the evenings: Most grocery stores will mark food prices down and, if you dare, grabbing food that is nearing sell-by date can save you a couple £££. Additionally, buy more fresh produce and less ready-made food and buy the in-house brands - these are always cheaper.

 

 It's not just where you shop, but when, says Sandi (pictured above, with friends)

3.  Pack your own lunch.

I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Making your own lunch will eliminate that daily £5 spend at Subway or Centra that adds up without you even realising.

P.S. If you’re like me and want to eat your lunch warm, head to the Students Union - there is a microwave in the lounge. Oh, and you can always bring a sachet along and make yourself a coffee and cut that Starbucks cappuccino out of your budget.

Sandi saves £££ with a BYO lunch on campus

4. Ask for student discounts

I’ll admit, student discounts can be very tempting, but here are my DO’s and DONTs:

DO: Take your student card with you when you go shopping and ask the cashier if they offer a student discount. They usually do and you can save £££.

DON’T: Buy something just because it is discounted. If you weren’t planning on spending money on it before you saw the discount…. you did not save any money! 

If you don't ask, you don't get, when it comes to student discounts, says Sandi (pictured above, sightseeing in Belfast)

5. Have “cheaper” fun

I’m sure you have realised by now that going out can be quite pricey. My solution: cheap fun. Nights in: Games nights, movie nights and dinner parties at a friend’s apartment are some things you could do and your homemade cocktails and dinner will taste just as good and it’s usually more fun than going out. If you’re big on adventure, find friends to explore the city with by foot and discover some hidden gems.

Queen's Accommodation also organises day trips and events at a super low cost that allow you to explore Ireland and make memories without breaking the bank If you do find yourself going clubbing, having some drinks with friends and drawing money before you go out will help you spend much less.

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Sandi says girls' nights in are a fun way to save money as a student

6. Walk, walk, walk… and walk some more.

One of the privileges of living in Belfast is that everything is usually within working distance – especially if you live in Queen’s Accommodation. Try to walk to most places instead of spending on transport. Walking is quite enjoyable too because the city is so beautiful, especially during autumn.

Sandi can easily walk from Queen's accommodation to campus

7. Try to have at least four “no spending days” per week

It sounds difficult but it is definitely possible, especially when you’re just going to classes during the week.

See the source image

8. Watch the exchange rate and reduce your bank charges

This one is for international students, especially if your home currency is weaker than the pound and you’re from outside the EU. Downloading Paypal and transferring your money there first, then into your UK bank account can help eliminate international banking charges. Doing this when the exchange rate is favourable can help you get the most out of your allowance, too.

See the source image

9. Treat yourself

It’s okay to splurge and spoil yourself sometimes. If you budget any excess money to treat yourself, it can help you stay disciplined.

Sandi saves for treats like meals out with friends

10. Save towards a goal

When you would have a goal in mind, saving money comes more naturally. It could be a day trip with friends, a new pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing at Footlocker or a nice dinner that makes it easier to sacrifice the little things.

You can experience all that Belfast has to offer if you are savvy with your student budget

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