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Saving money at university - tips from Thrifty Londoner


Millennial money blogger Laura (aka Thrifty Londoner) knows a thing or two about financial wellness. Over on her blog and Instagram she shares “accessible, jargon-free money chat” to help people feel financially confident, change their money mindset and create new money habits.

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We spoke to Laura to find out what she would’ve done differently if she knew then what she does now about making your money go further whilst at university.

She picks six key money-saving tips so you can focus on enjoying University life and studies whilst maintaining your financial wellbeing at the same time.

Test your knowledge in our quiz.

Plan your meals


It’s definitely fun to eat out with your friends every now and then, but doing it all the time can get really expensive and will soon lose the novelty too.

Making sure you always get a weekly food shop in and planning your daily meals is a great way to get organised and save money on lunchtime meal deals and pricey takeaways for dinner. Make it fun by taking turns with your housemates to cook for each other and try new recipes.

Buying everything in one go for each week works out cheaper than popping to the shop every day for dinner. You can save money on the big shop by opting for supermarket value products instead of more expensive brands, and going later in the day when lots of things are discounted – but remember to always write a list and stick to it!

Make the most of student discounts and travel cards

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Lots of retailers, restaurants, pubs and bars offer student discounts so it’s always worth scouting out the best deals and showing your NUS card or required ID to claim them.

You can also save money on things like travel with a 16-25 railcard from National Rail, which you can buy for £30 per year or £70 for three years. This card will give you a third off every single rail ticket you buy so it will make back the money you spent on buying it in no time.

Wear it more than once

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With lots of parties and events to go to whilst at university it can be tempting to buy a new outfit every time, but no one really cares if you wear the same thing again – it’s better for the environment and your bank balance too!

Instead of buying fast fashion for a night out or a cheap fancy dress costume for the Halloween party, try shopping second hand or reusing the same outfit again next year.

The same goes for everyday clothes. Washing your clothes every day costs money in electric or launderette fees, so re-wearing your favourite sweater a few times before you wash it can save you money in the short and long term.

Related: Second hand shopping tips from Thrifty Clair

Maximise your holiday work

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The summer holiday is the perfect time to earn some extra money (and save it) for when you’re back in the new term. One thing I wish I did was to search for higher paid holiday work opportunities in my local area to maximise my pay packet.

Scout out and apply for seasonal summer or Christmas temp jobs in advance of the holiday period so you can get started as soon as you get home. If you already have a part time job before you leave for university, could they keep a job open for you when you come back? Many places need extra staff during the busy summer and Christmas holiday periods so it’s always worth asking.

And think about jobs that can help towards your studies or future career too. Are there any roles that would look good on your CV when you’ve got your degree and are looking for work?

Save for the fun stuff!

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What will you spend all of that hard-earned money you saved over the summer on? The fun stuff, of course!

Big days out, mini-breaks with friends, or longer trips. holidays and travel – these are the experiences you’ll remember forever, so make them possible by saving as much money as you can, while you can, to fund them.

Work out your budget for each term

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The biggest and best tip of all if you want to save money whilst at university is to create a budget for each term. This will help you to see exactly what money you have coming in and going out each week or month, so you can plan and keep track of what you’re spending and saving.

Make a list or spreadsheet of all your money coming in (student loan, wages or money from parents) and your outgoings – things like your accommodation, household bills, course fees or materials, food shopping, and how much money you’re saving each month. Whatever’s left is for weekly spending – but remember to plan that too!

If you’re able to, setting up a regular standing order to your savings account each month will make it easier to keep track of your savings as a recurring monthly ‘expense’ in your budget.

For more money management tips visit our Words that Count campaign.

Follow Thrifty Londoner on Instagram and read her blog for more savvy saving.

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