Your hard work has paid off, you've secured your university place, your accommodation is sorted and freshers week is firmly in the calendar. Now it is time to tackle the dreaded subject of money and how best to make it last the year.
In this article, we look at 7 ways to make the most out of your money at university.
1 - Sort out your bank account early
All the major banks are keen to get students as customers and offer incentives to encourage you to bank with them. The incentives on offer by the banks are appealing as the banks know that if you take out a bank account with them you are likely to bank with them for life. As a result, you are more likely to take out additional financial products, e.g a mortgage, at a later date which they will profit from.
Most banks will offer some type of incentive to open an account, so even if you already have an account, it is worth looking around to see what incentives are on offer. Remember though that it is not just about short-term incentives, make sure you check the details of overdraft charges and other costs that may be incurred in the long term. A good place to compare the best student bank accounts is in our article, 'The best student bank accounts in 2022'.
2 - Shop smart & get discounts
As a student, a large proportion of your weekly/monthly expenditure will be on food. Make sure you shop smart by shopping in the evenings when the food is often discounted. You could also take advantage of supermarket reward schemes and we compare some of the best in our article, 'Which is the best supermarket loyalty card?'.
In addition, you can benefit from student discounts from other major retailers including a number of cinemas and other entertainment venues. You will be surprised how much you can save on these discounts and you could get more discounts if you sign up for a student discount card such as TOTUM.
3 - Get cheap travel
Apply for a 16-25 Railcard which costs £30 for one year and means you can save a third on rail fares. If you know you will be doing a lot of travelling over the next few years you could buy a three-year 16-25 railcard for £70, saving a further £20. Obtain a Young Person's Coachcard for £12.50 a year and save a third on coach fares. Again, there is a three-year option costing £30 which saves a further £7.50.
4 - Get a part-time job
There are always plenty of opportunities for part-time work around universities. Bar work, or a job as a waiter, can earn you good money when you include tips and you can still enjoy the social aspect of life at university.
5 - Buy second hand
Purchasing textbooks and other study materials can be very expensive, so why not save money and buy them second hand? Search eBay and Amazon Marketplace for cheap books or enquire at your chosen university if they hold a second hand book fair. Place a post on your university's Facebook group to see if any students who've already studied your course want to sell their used textbooks.
6 - Start budgeting
One thing you may find as a student is that your money will run out before the end of the month, so it is worth creating a budget and trying to stick to it. A great way to budget is to use a smartphone app. We look at the best budgeting apps in our article The best budgeting apps in the UK: How to budget without trying. We know it is easier said than done, especially if you are living on a restricted income, but if you apply yourself to the task you can keep ahead of the bills and still enjoy a few drinks in the student's union. You could also download our FREE budgeting spreadsheet.
7 - Insure your possessions for nothing
Once you get to university make sure your possessions are insured in case you fall victim to theft. Some items often stolen from students are money, handbags, jewellery, phones and cameras. You don't necessarily have to pay out for your own insurance, as your parent's home insurance will often cover your possessions as long as they inform their insurer, so make sure you check before you settle into university life. If not, you may need to purchase contents insurance, we explain more in our article, 'Do I need home insurance?'
Lastly, work hard and have fun. You will look back in years to come with fond memories of your university days, so while you should make every effort to make your money go as far as it can, make sure you find time to make friends and create some special memories. For further financial tips when preparing for university, check out our article Student finance advice for those heading to university.