Five savings tips for students


By Beehive Money

For many people, university is the point where they move out of the family home and become financially independent. But, it’s also a great time to get a head-start on your savings. We’ve put together five simple tips for cutting back on your spending and making saving easier, without you missing out on the uni social life.

1. Work out a budget

University comes with lots of fees, so it’s a good idea to get a handle on how much your accommodation, fees and tuition cost so you’ll know what’s left at the end of the month or term. Setting a clear budget can help make things easier, so you won’t overspend or struggle.

The easy way to work out your budget is to write down your income, list your outgoings, and see what’s left over.  This is your disposable income – free for you to spend or save as you like. Don’t forget to include things like energy costs, mobile and internet, and gym subscriptions when working things out. Why not try using our downloadable budget planner as a guide?

2. Try home cooking

Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a first-timer, you can save a lot of money by swapping dinners out and weekly takeaways for homemade meals. Look up a recipe online, check out your university library for cookbooks or download an app, like Tasty. There are tons of video tutorials on YouTube too, or ask your friends and family  – they’re bound to have a few recipes worth sharing. Home-prepared meals can also save on time, too – especially when you’ve had a day of lectures or simply aren’t in the mood to cook. You can batch cook and freeze leftover portions, and buy bigger sizes of staples to make your money go further. Then, all you need to do is heat them up.

3. Investigate discounts

One of the best things about being a student is all the discounts you can scoop at your favourite retailers and restaurants – and you can even get a railcard for trips home. Some businesses offer as much as 25% off, and you can also enjoy subscriptions to Spotify and Amazon Prime with even bigger discounts. Our top tip is to register with student discount providers, so you don’t miss out on saving cash.

4. Avoid your overdraft 

With so many banks offering interest-free overdrafts, especially on student accounts, it can seem tempting to sign up and start spending. However, any type of overdraft should really only be used as a buffer – after all, it’s not ‘free’ money, because you’ll have to pay it back. Your account type or overdraft may change when you graduate, too, so don’t be caught short on bank charges.

5. Travel savvy 

As we’ve touched on, many students move out of the family home when starting university, and often to a new city, too. Travelling around campus and back home can quickly become expensive, so look into your options. You might be able to score a student pass for your local bus, and in the past, different banks have offered railcards on their student accounts. Some universities even offer a bike loan scheme to make travelling more affordable.

If you’re a driver, ask your insurer about a black box plan, which can give you a more competitive premium, or look into adding your parents to your insurance (or vice versa).

When to save money

With a few saving ideas up your sleeve, it’s a good idea to think about when you can put money away. If you’re working, funnel some funds into a savings account on payday to ensure you save, rather than spend, the extra.

What to save for

It’s never too early to save – so look ahead beyond the end of the academic year, or your graduation, to situations where some extra money might come in handy.  

  • Gap year: It’s common for students to take a gap year before or after studying, whether to earn experience, become more independent, or travel. Saving money in advance means you can avoid having to pay in instalments – which usually have interest to pay on top – and means you can put away spending money, too. We suggest a regular savings account to help you save, as they often have a high interest rate but come with charges, so you won’t be tempted to withdraw early.
  • Emergency fund: It’s always a good idea to have some pennies saved up for an emergency situation, from losing your phone to having your bike stolen. You can also dip into them without having to touch your overdraft. Of course, you might prefer to have a rainy day fund, instead, which can be a bit more flexible if you have spontaneous plans. An easy access account is ideal for this type of savings as you won’t be charged for withdrawals, though you might earn lower interest on what you do put away.
  • Accommodation: While it’s not uncommon for students to move back in with family or friends after graduating, saving early for a deposit can get you in your own place that bit faster – whether it’s buying your own house or getting funds for a rental property. First-time buyers aged 18-39 can open a LISA (Lifetime Individual Savings Account) with just £1 (for the Beehive Money LISA), which benefits from a 25% annual Government bonus. You can deposit up to £4,000 per year (within your ISA allowance), earning a maximum £1,000 on top, plus interest. However, if you withdraw the funds for a different reason, you may be charged a 25% fee, so could get back less than you paid in.

Saving strategies 

It’s worth knowing how a few handy strategies can help you get into the habit of saving sooner, and reach your goals even faster.
  • 50/30/20 Rule: How about using 50% of your income for essentials (rent, bills, debts, food), 30% for the nice-to-haves (think new clothes, meals out, holidays) and 20% for savings? This is a common savings pattern. 
  • 80/20 Rule: A simplified version of the above rule, with this structure you simply put away 20% of your income and spend 80% on everything else.
  • 26-week challenge: If you’ve got a weekly payday, you can start with small savings of £1 per week, then scale up to £26 on week 26. This could help you put away an impressive £351 – and if you start again to take it to the end of the year, you’ll have saved £702 in just 12 months.

If you’d like to set up a savings account with Beehive Money, open one via the app and if you need help, chat to our friendly Customer Advocates. They’ll be happy to help. You can also check out our savings FAQ, our blog post on how to save money fast and our help centre for more tips and tricks.