Making a Student Loan last a whole term can be a tough gig – but you could be sitting on major savings. Our friends at Save the Student have kindly shared six of the best ways to pay less.
Guest blog written by Ruth Bushi, an editor at Save the Student – the UK’s largest student money advice site.
1. Get all the freebies
Getting stuff for free is the ultimate penny-stretcher – and we’re not just talking sample-size treats: there are free meals, cinema tickets and beauty treats galore floating around the internet, often just for downloading an app or showing a code in-store. Don’t discount the stuff you don’t like – freebies are great for gifting (or re-selling for profit) too.
2. Don’t overpay on bills
Switching and ditching utilities should be like breathing: blindly sticking with your current provider usually means massively overpaying for everything from gas and leccy to mobile bills and broadband. Put contract renewal dates in your calendar and, a month before they’re due, do a comparison for cheaper deals. THEN get on the phone to your provider and tell ‘em you’ll leave if they don’t give beat the cheapest alternative.
3. Use discount cards the right way
Your (free) uni ID or library card is all you need to grab local perks – just get into the habit of always asking for a student discount. If you mostly shop online (or you just like the look of the extra offers), there’s also the NUS Extra card – £12/yr, with a year’s ISIC card thrown in for discounts abroad. UNiDAYS is a contender, though, with wall-to-wall discounts and no card fee.
Whichever you plump for, just don’t get sucked into a year-long Black Friday. It doesn’t matter how cheap things are: a roomful of clutter still costs you! Stick with stuff you really need, then re-sell what you’re done with to avoid going broke on bargains.
4. Unlock your phone
Unlocking your mobile phone is a smart move, not least because it makes bagging cheaper tariffs that much easier. It also means you can snag sim-specific discounts and freebies, like Three’s Wuntu gig, along the way. Often all you need to do is send off for a free sim, pop it in your phone when it arrives, then connect to wifi to download and register with the relevant app. You can then swap back to your usual sim, but should still have access to the goodies.
It’s surprisingly easy to get your phone provider to unlock your handset – most don’t even charge for the privilege. Give ‘em a call and ask what their deal is.
5. Reclaim the licence fee
The TV licensing rules are about as straightforward as a ring road – but there are ways to slash the annual fee.
- You don’t need a licence if you never watch or record live programmes on any channel AND avoid BBC iPlayer re-runs. ‘Live’ means programmes as they’re being broadcast on TV or on a TV service, i.e., All4, Sky Go and YouTube. That still leaves mountains of content via catch-up (not the Beeb), on-demand services, and most of YouTube.
- You won’t need a licence at uni if your out-of-term address (parents’ address) is covered by a TV Licence AND you only watch on a device that isn’t plugged in – i.e., a charged-up laptop, tablet or phone.
- If you head home during the holidays (or you already do the fee-swervers above), you may be due a refund. Monthly refunds clock in at around £12.25 – i.e., a decent chunk over the summer vacation.
6. Pay less to stream films
Around a third of UK households subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Prime or Now TV – and with packages starting from £6/mth, they’re cheaper than the big screen. When it comes to riding the freebie train, however, Prime is a winner: their student package is free for 6 months, and includes one-day delivery on some purchases, a selection of books and games for nowt, plus discounts on student essentials. After the trial it costs £39/yr – but we’ve heard of students rotating the offer between everyone in the household so no one pays…
There’s also a (slowly) growing list of free, legit indie content out there – have a look at the Blackpills app in Google Play or iTunes for starters.
Rent alone can demolish your student loan – plus you’ll still have everything else to pay for. Do yourself a favour: the tips above can easily save you hundreds on unnecessary costs. Start with them, get the feel for tactical thrift, and make Student Finance go the distance!