Living on a student budget is a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be boring! Here, we look at some of the clever and creative ways in which you can save money whilst at university, leaving you more cash at the end of the month to spend on having fun!


Shop in the evenings – and when you’ve just eaten!

According to the National Student Money Survey in 2021, the average student spends £100 a month on groceries. It’s apparently the second highest outgoing after your rent.

To make sure you are not overspending in the supermarket you should consider shopping in the evening. Most shops tend to drop product prices each night before they close on items that are soon to be going out of date. This often applies to fresh meat & fish, bread, fruit and dairy items. Many of these items can be frozen too, so the sell-by-date shouldn’t put you off. Just be sure to freeze them as soon as you get back from the shop.

Also, if you are shopping in the evening, make sure you’ve already eaten dinner before you go. Shopping on a full stomach will make you less tempted to put those impulse products in your basket and choose only the essentials that you need!


Buy second-hand course books

We all know that course-books are expensive, but they are also essential. You can, however, save a bit of cash by being clever with the way you buy your books.

Second hand books are an ideal solution for those wanting to save a bit of their student budget. You can find many second hand books online from the likes of Abe Books and  World of Books. Also, some of the local charity shops in your university area might have some too if you’re lucky.

Alternatively, if you speak to your tutor, they may be able to put you in touch with students from past years who may be looking to sell their old books at a discount. Providing they don’t have hundreds of messy notes scribbled on them – they will serve you just as well as the new books would.


Get cheap travel tickets

If you’re likely to travel a lot, visiting friends and family across the UK, then a student railcard is definitely advisable. Getting a 16-25 railcard will cost you £30 for the year but will save you a 1/3 of the price on most journeys, so you will very soon make your money back.

You can also use split ticketing to buy multiple small journeys rather than one ticket – often by quite a large margin. does the hard work for you when you need to book an onward journey, or the TrainSplit app for iOS and Android.

For an even cheaper alternative, you can catch a £1 bus ride on Megabus. They frequently promote incredibly cheap deals if you book in advance. Just be prepared for your journey time to be a little longer than the train.


Use cashback deals

We’ve all heard of cashback deals, but do you actually use them? There are many cashback sites that make it easy for you to claim money back when you shop. You can often get back between 5 -10% cashback on retail purchases using Quidco or TopCashBack.

Once you shop through the link provided by one of the cashback sites, the store will know you were referred and will register your purchase for the cashback. These cashback sites regularly have amazing internal offers and bonuses, so if you sign up to their newsletters, you will be the first to find out.


Do the no-spend challenge

Following the no-spend challenge once a week can save you a lot of money and can also be really fun! For just one day out of seven, don’t touch your wallet or your Apple Pay and see how many things you can do for free!

You could cycle or walk instead of taking the bus, eat home-made meals throughout the day and organise something with your friends that doesn’t involve spending money for example visiting a local museum with free entry, organising a games night in your student home or planning a big hike in the nearest park.


Not only will you begin to enjoy the challenge, but it will also teach you to notice how easily it is to spend money and learn ways to have fun without having to spend!