Moving to the UK for university can be an exciting yet daunting experience, especially when it comes to money matters. With tuition fees, living expenses and other costs, studying in the UK as an international student can get very expensive. However, with some smart planning and money-savvy tricks, you can make your money go further. Here are some top tips on how to save money as an international student in the UK.
1. Find affordable accommodation
One of your biggest expenses will be accommodation. Rent and bills in popular places like London are notoriously high, so find ways to cut costs. Opt for university halls or shared houses and apartments which tend to be cheaper than studios or ensuite rooms. Search areas further from campus where rents are lower. You can also save on bills by living with others and splitting costs.
Related: How to save money in London
2. Monitor your energy consumption
After accommodation expenses, utility bills are typically the next significant cost. Gas and electricity can be quite costly in the UK, especially if you keep your heating on constantly. Nevertheless, you can reduce your bills by being mindful and finding ways to use less energy in your student household. If you’re renting privately and responsible for your bills, it’s essential to compare energy provider rates before committing.
3. Cook at home
Eating out and takeaways will drain your budget fast. Save by cooking at home as much as possible. Make batch meals and leftovers to cut down on cooking time. Stock up on basics and essentials when grocery shopping. Shop at budget stores like Lidl and Aldi. Meal prep and plan recipes in advance. You can even start a cooking co-op with other students.
4. Use student discounts
Sign up for a student discount card such as TOTUM or UNiDAYS. You can get discounts on shops, restaurants, travel and more. Many local attractions, cinemas and theatres also offer discounted student tickets. Always ask if there is a student price to pay less for everything from stationery and tech to nights out. In addition, take advantage of money-saving cashback and coupon extensions when you shop online.
5. Buy second-hand
From furniture to course books, you can find many items pre-loved. Check student ads, Facebook Marketplace, and thrift stores for bargains. Sites like Vinted and Depop are great for cheap clothes. You can also sell your clothes on Vinted to earn some cash.
6. Walk or bike for transport
If you live close enough, walk or bike to campus instead of taking public transport. You’ll save money on fare costs while also getting daily exercise in. A bike is handy for zipping around town for less too. Just remember to buy a sturdy lock.
7. Take advantage of university events
Being a student has its perks, like access to free or discounted events. Go to guest lectures, talks, gigs and society activities on campus for free entertainment. Many museums also offer free or cheap student admission. Keep an eye out for local free events too.
8. Travel smartly
Making the most of your university years often means travelling around Europe. But flights, accommodation and activities can get expensive. Travel off-season for cheaper rates. Use budget airlines and websites for good deals. Stay in hostels rather than hotels. Join travel rewards programs.
If you are planning to explore the UK by train, it might be worth considering buying a National Railcard. It saves a third on most UK train journeys. In London, linking your National Railcard to your Oyster Card also offers a 1/3 discount on off-peak fares for the Underground and DLR.
9. Find free or cheap activities
Instead of paying for entertainment, take advantage of free and low-cost things to do. Outdoor pursuits like hiking, cycling and geocaching make for cheap fun activities. Museums, galleries and historic sites often have free admission days. Check sites like Groupon or Wowcher for discounted attractions too.
10. Learn to budget
Get control of your finances by tracking your income and spending. Create a budget plan based on your costs and overheads. Having a budget keeps your spending on track. Reassess it regularly and trim expenses where you can. There are many budgeting apps to help.
11. Earn extra money
If you want to make a bit of extra money, you can explore working in the UK while you study. You’re limited in how many hours you can work with a student visa. But you can take on a part-time job in parallel with studies to earn extra income. Uni jobs like campus ambassadors, bartenders and tutors are good options. Freelancing and other online side hustles are also popular with students.
12. Avoid impulse purchases
It’s easy to buy things on a whim like random gadgets or clothes. But stop and ask yourself if you really need it. Stick to a shopping list to curb impulse buys. Give yourself a cooling-off period for bigger purchases. Saving up for something makes you value it more.
13. Open a student bank account
Choose a bank that offers good student perks. Look for accounts with long 0% overdraft periods to provide a financial cushion. Some banks also give railcards, learning rewards and other freebies with student accounts. An interest-free overdraft can help manage costs.
14. Use self-storage
Another great way to save money as an international student in the UK is to use self-storage. With self-storage from easyStorage, you can rent a full storage unit to keep belongings you don’t need immediate access to, especially over the summer. This allows you to downsize your living space and accommodation costs. Or you can use their handy by-the-box storage, ideal for frequently needed items. Storing out-of-season clothes, course books, paperwork and more with easyStorage frees up space in your room and reduces clutter. Mobile self-storage gives you flexibility with what you pay for upfront versus storing at home.
Moving abroad for university is an investment in your future. But it definitely takes smarts when it comes to saving money as an international student in the UK. Hopefully, these savings tips will help you stay savvy and ensure you make the most of your time and money while studying in the UK. Share your own money-saving hacks with fellow international students too!
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