25 cash-saving tips for students


1. Consider gadget insurance

It’s likely you’ll be taking a few shiny new gadgets to university with you, from laptops and tablets to a TV, mobiles and maybe even a smartwatch. While students will be trying to look after the pennies, a specialist gadget insurance policy can well end up saving you in the long run. At the moment on uSwitch.com, you can get a 10 per cent discount if you insure two gadgets, and 15 per cent off if you insure three or more. Plus, get an extra 10 per cent until 20th September with code USTUDY10. Find out more here.

2. Make sure your car insurance policy is valid

If you’re taking your car to university, it’s important to inform your insurer of your new address. You will also have to make sure that you’re not just a named driver on the policy. Putting the policy in a parent’s name, when you’re actually the main driver is known as ‘fronting’, which is illegal and can result in insurers rejecting claims.

3. Telematics insurance

If you need to cut the cost of your car insurance premium, a telematics box could help. The technology measures everything and paints a picture of how safe a driver you are. So if you’re a good driver and stick well within the speed limits, it’s well worth looking into this ‘black box’ technology to help lower your premiums. 

4. Pay your insurance upfront

It may not be possible for many young drivers to fork out the cost for car insurance in one go, but if this option is open to you, take it, as you could pay less in total by not paying in monthly instalments.


5. Change energy supplier

If you're moving into a student rental where you’re responsible for paying the energy bill, you are entitled to shop around in order to find a cheaper supplier and tariff for the home’s gas, electricity, or both (dual fuel). With an average saving of £292 a year per energy switch, you could save yourself enough money to buy around 390 pots of instant noodles — necessary reserves for when you’re penny pinching at the end of term! But be wary of long fixes - while fixed deals are generally the cheapest, some do have exit fees. If the fixed term is longer than your rental contact length try and go for one without fees. Find a great gas and electricity deal here.

You could save yourself enough money to buy around 390 pots of instant noodles

6. Turn your thermostat down by 1°C

This can save you as much as £60 per year. This may be the oldest trick in the book but it's also one of the best, and after a week you won't even notice the difference. Wear more jumpers, socks and slippers around the house and put an extra blanket on the bed. If you're turning up the heat to walk around in a T-shirt just remember that it costs money.

7. Get the most out of your oven

Cook a few meals at a time to get the most out of having your oven on. Heating an entire oven for one small meal is fine, but it's a much more efficient to heat a few items at once so maybe consider cooking the odd dinner for your flatmates and they could even do the dishes for you. When cooking food on a hob, use a pan that is the appropriate size - using an unnecessarily large pan wastes a lot of energy, and won't heat your food as effectively.


8. If it’s not dirty, wash at thirty!

Ninety per cent of a washing machine's energy expenditure is spent on heating the water, so you can save significant amounts of money by washing at lower temperatures. Air-dry your laundry rather than tumble-drying it, particularly if it's hot and windy weather. Even if it's not warm outside it's far cheaper to hang your clothes inside if you have the space.

Mobile phones

9. Stick with the same mobile and switch to a SIM-only deal

Happy with your phone? Not fussed about owning the latest smartphone with all the bells and whistles? Good for you. That means you can take advantage of a SIM-only deal. Not only are you free from a lengthy contract, but at the value-end of the market you can get pretty generous data, calls and texts allowances for around a fiver per month.

10. Look for student discounts on mobile deals

Vodafone offers some students 10 per cent off their monthly bill. Find out if you qualify for Vodafone’s student discount here. O2 also runs a student offer, which entitles you to 20 per cent off the Airtime costs with its Refresh contracts but check the small print here.

11. See what your broadband provider offers mobile phone customers

The more services you take from a single provider, the less you'll pay for them. BT broadband customers can get a SIM-only mobile phone deal from BT from just £5 per month. Virgin Media, EE and TalkTalk SIM-only deals are comparably priced too. Better yet, TalkTalk broadband customers who also take Plus TV on-demand TV service get a free SIM with usage that would normally set you back £90. Compare broadband, digtal tv and home phone deals here.

12. Consider dedicated student broadband deals

Instead of the standard, minimum 12-month contract term, larger providers such as BT, Sky and Virgin Media, offer broadband packages tailored specifically to students that run for nine months. The chief advantage of these is that you don’t pay for broadband during the long summer holidays. But don’t rule out standard 12-month deals either which can sometimes work out cheaper than 9-month deals. Search for a broadband deal here.

13. Look for vouchers and joining incentives on your broadband deal

While sweeteners and freebies, such as high-street vouchers, are hard to come by on nine-month student broadband offers, they’re relatively common if you don’t mind signing up for 12 months.

14. Three or more in your household?

You’ll need an unlimited download allowance and speedy broadband. In multiple-occupancy student homes, the sheer range of laptops, smartphones, games consoles and set-top boxes connected to the internet simultaneously puts significant strain on your download allowance and on the speed of your connection. For that reason, if there are three or more occupants of your digs you’ll almost certainly want to choose a broadband package with no usage limit and that delivers a speedier fibre broadband service.

15. Mobile broadband can be a viable option

Depending on your university's location and the quality and speed of mobile internet provision, you could try ditching a home broadband service altogether and opt for mobile broadband instead. This means that you won’t have to pay landline rental which for many is an unnecessary cost. The downside is that 4G dongles and MiFi deals that feature unlimited downloads are quite rare, so you’ll have to ration your usage — plus, 4G is a slower service than home broadband and it’ll be a less robust connection too.


16. Football’s free on BT or pick and choose the Sky games you watch on NOW TV

Watching Premiership football on TV can be an expensive habit. But, if you’re signed up to a BT TV package, live coverage of Premiership games is free of charge on BT Sport channels. From August 2015, BT is airing UEFA Champions League and Europa League games on the BT Sport Europe channel too. It’s worth noting that while BT Sport 1 and 2 are free to BT broadband customers, BT Sport Europe isn’t; that's an extra £5 per month. If BT doesn’t have the games you want or if a contract too much of a commitment, the answer could be a NOW TV Sports Day Pass. For just £6.99, you get 24-hour access to all Sky Sports channels.

17. Free Netflix is on offer with your broadband

Time-limited promotions from TalkTalk and Virgin Media have included a subscription to Netflix as a freebie. At the time of writing, this wasn’t available, but we expect it'll be back soon so it’s worth keeping an eye out. Or just use your parents’ account...

18. The same goes for your parents’ Sky Go account

Sky Go lets you nominate two devices (four with Sky Go Plus) on which to watch Sky’s TV output live. As long as you’re studying in the British Isles, you just need to make sure the laptop or tablet you’re taking with you is registered.

19. Make sure you claim your TV license refund

Planning to watch BBC output live on your laptop, smartphone or tablet? Or record programs live? Then sorry, but you do in fact need a TV license. While a halls' license will cover you in communal areas, it won’t when you’re holed up in your own room. The good news is that you’re not liable to pay for it during the summer months when you’re home. Over three months, that’s a saving of £40 or so. The less good news is to qualify you’ll need to claim it back when there are three calendar months or more remaining on your license. And you’ll need to be sure you won’t need it again before it expires.

20. Or don’t get a TV license

If you stick to watching catch-up services on laptops, tablets and mobiles you don’t have to pay the full £145.50 TV licence.


21. Get the best student bank account

It may not be the most exciting part of preparing for university, but choosing the best bank account could make your time as a student, and even the next few years after you graduate, much easier. Every year banks offer a range of perks to draw in students, including free railcards, cashback schemes and shopping vouchers. While these can be appealing, a 0 per cent overdraft will usually be the priority, to help take care of the unexpected expenses. Make sure you don’t exceed your overdraft limit as there are one-off fees for doing so, and you can quickly become caught in a vicious cycle of debt.

Also consider if the account offers an interest-free overdraft after you graduate. This can be very handy to get you on your feet when you leave university for a new town for a job, or to give you a buffer period to pay back any debt. See our student bank account picks here.

22. Don’t use payday loans

If you do find yourself over your overdraft limit, avoid using a payday loan at all costs. Interest rates are extortionate, and the cost of the debt can easily skyrocket. If you're struggling to make ends meet, contact the National Association of Student Money Advisers (NASMA), who will be able to advise you on the alternatives.

23. Get yourself an NUS Extra Card

An NUS Extra card, which costs £12 a year or £32 for three years, offers over 170 savings with online and in-store retailers, including Amazon, Co-op and Odeon. With a typical student saving £532 a year, this is definitely an investment that’s worthy of your precious pounds.

24. Get a 16-25 Railcard

If you spend more than £90 a year visiting friends at other universities and travelling home to get your washing done, it’s worth your while getting a 16-25 Railcard. Railcards cut a third off your train ticket and cost £30 for the whole year or £70 for three years. If you’re a frequent traveller, consider taking out a student current account with Santander who offer you a free railcard for four years as well as an interest-free overdraft of up to £1,500.

25. Remember that you’re entitled to a discount on your council tax

If you're a full-time student living alone or with other students you don't need to pay council tax, regardless of how many of you are living in the property. Bearing in mind the average cost of council tax in the UK is £1,468, this is a considerable saving. If you live with a non-student, you still receive a 25 per cent reduction in your council tax. To get your discount make sure you apply to your local council via here

Thanks to uSwitch for sharing these tips.