1) One tip I always see cropping up everywhere is 'do your weekly food shopping with your housemates and eat together as much as possible.' In theory this is great but in my experience it just didn't work at all. There is no way you can equally ration out all of the food and when you wake up in the morning to find out that there's no milk for your cuppa due to your housemates ridiculous 3am cereal habit and someone else has left the bread open all night so it's gone stale, it will drive you mad! If you know you are all going to be in by all means plan a meal together but from experience don't do a whole food shop as a group, a lot of food will get wasted or your housemates will eat it all and you'll be skint and hungry-wah.
2) I've started to use a lot of money-saving websites which I never really looked at as a student. Sites such as HotUKDeals & MoneySavingExpert are great if you're a bit of a bargain hunter like me! Also Student Money Saver is a brilliant website as they post up really great offers everyday (not just for students either!) Be sure to check their Facebook page too, as they're constantly updating new deals & freebies.
3) Another tip that always comes up is 'buy supermarket value brands'. Some value brand products are absolutely delish (Tesco value jaffa cakes I'm looking at you) but when you're a student and you're too poor to go out plus you're freezing coz your housemate is refusing to put the heater on (curse them!) the last thing you want to be faced with is a cupboard full of uninspiring foods. Value teabags are grim & most of the cereals I've tried taste like cardboard so do yourself & your tastebuds a favour and treat yourself to some quality food. I love B&M Bargains & Homebargains as they always have great, quality brands at really cheap prices so try and visit there instead of the supermarket for some treats.
4) Buy big, massive sizes of anything you can, especially near loan day when you actually have some money. Things I'd recommend stock piling are the most boring things ever but neccessities that you'll begrudge buying when your skint. Buy the bigger pack/better value sizes of toilet roll, the massive boxes of laundry powder & the insanely huge bags of pasta that you think will feed an army.
5) Now this one is a bit of a love/hate one. It's the NUS discount card. Everyone always says how good they are but I didn't have one in the three years I was at university. Most places that accept student discount will do so just from your student card (apart from if you go to UCLan for some reason!) A website I used a lot when shopping online is Unidays which offers similar discounts to the NUS and you just have to register and confirm that you are a university student. According to the website they now have a fancy app which means you can get discounts in-store too. So £12 for the card isn't exactly a massive investment but if you're not gonna get much use out it, it's still money that could be spent elsewhere.
6) Buying a printer is an excellent idea, especially if you're doing a creative course where you need to do sketchbooks etc or even if you just have to print out the odd assignment now and again it's likely to be cheaper than printing at the library. Also those things are so unreliable, I remember a few of the girls in my class having heart attacks over the printers failing in the library. This happened more than once! Ink is a bit of a bugger though as it is pretty costly, I don't really recommend using the compatible ones as sometimes they are more hassle than they are worth. What I started to do in final year was list my empty ink cartridges on eBay, this sounds odd but the thrifty, entrepreneur types of eBay buy the empty ones to refill and then they re-sell them. My ink cartridges were around £15 each but I got between £4-6 each on eBay for an empty one so that's a good way of making it a bit cheaper. You can pick up a decent printer in WHSmiths or any supermarket for around the £30 mark.
7) Don't join up for 'student special deal' gym memberships. They seem like a good idea at the time but the majority of people that I knew who signed up, went really enthusiastically for about two weeks and then in the last term, after not going for 6 months straight said they wish they hadn't wasted their money. My get fit advice? Buy a hula hoop, a yoga mat and some weights then watch the bazillions of FREE work out videos on YouTube :)
8) If you religiously use high-end beauty products or wear designer perfumes, don't invest in them using your own money. A bit cheeky but ask your family members for them as a gift for birthday/Christmas/Easter or because you did really well on an assignment ;)
9) I've recently started using Topcashback, I had heard about these kinda sites at uni but thought that they were a bit of a gimmick. However when I actually looked into it, they are a great way of saving money on things you're buying anyway! I did quite a lot of online shopping at uni, as Preston doesn't have the biggest, most diverse range of shops on it's high street. Basically you choose which website you want to buy off let's say Boohoo for example, if you click through Boohoo on the Topcashback website you get 6.3% cashback and a further 15% off dresses. So that is just a normal example however if you're thinking about something more expensive such as a phone contract or signing up to Sky, they have cashback worth £100s so it's definitely worth thinking about. It's free to become a member so there's nothing to lose! The only thing I'd say is don't expect to get your cash back quickly, it can take a few months for it to come into your account but then you can easily transfer it to your Paypal account.
10) Another popular tip I see is 'borrow your textbooks from the library' This is a pretty obvious money saving tip opposed to buying all your books brand new, but from my experience the university library only has a few copies of each book and the super-duper organised always loan it out before you. Consider buying your books second-hand off Amazon or if you have an Oxfam book shop close buy, it's definitely worth checking them out as they tend to have a lot of great reference books for charity shop prices.
One thing I did discover about my university library is that it had hundreds of magazine subscriptions. I studied fashion at uni so buying magazines all the time was getting very pricey. I only really discovered the sheer amount of amazing magazines in the last few months of my final year. Numero, LOVE, Vogue Italia, Street & Style, Elle Decoration-sooo many! You weren't allowed to loan the magazines, they had to stay in the library but I abused the scanners & copied my favourite articles/images to use in my sketchbooks. Some of the magazines we were supposed to reference cost anything from £7-£50. It's not as exciting as physically owning the magazine and having a nice little stack on your bookshelves but it will save you a lot of money.
So there we have it! I really hope that these tips are useful to you. I wish I'd known about them before I started university.
What are you top money saving tips?
Thanks for reading :)