Studying abroad is a good and rewarding experience. But it can be very expensive too. Most of the students have no much life experience yet. They don’t know how to save money, how to avoid to spend too much. I would like to give few hints if you study in UK. I lived 5 years in UK 1 year as a student completing my Master course. I funded myself all the way so I am sure can give you useful ideas. Do not have to be frugal, simply tracking your spending and being more careful where and what to buy can save you a lot of money.
Keep tracking your spending. Write down all your spending and once a week go through the list. Do you have the experience when you put some cash in your wallet and after a while its empty and you have no idea when did you spent it? I had! With this simple method you can track your “bad spending habits”.
Collect and keep shopping member cards like Tesco, Iceland etc. Most of the shops offer those free and if you are frequent buyer will get some discount shortly.
Learn to cook. At least, some simple dishes. You can save money and probably more healthy than ready “microwave” food or take away. Specially take away food expensive, unhealthy and greasy. Can take turns with the people you share a house with. It’s very nice specially if everyone from other country, so you have a chance to get know other kind of foods and culture. I know indian students like to save like this for example. They share a flat and cook for themselves.Discover nearby grocery shops. In my experience, the vegetables, meat much cheaper than big stores like Tesco.
Household items. If you need things like new pillow, blanket, shower curtain, wahshing powder, cleaning stuff just go to Primark or Wilkinson. Probably the cheapest in the UK. Also if you are not brand name fanatic can buy there noname shirts, underpants, socks etc. Decent quality on a very low price.
Public transport. Probably in your chosen city the local travel company offer, student travel cards if you buy it for a whole semester. It might feel painful to pay for one amount instead of buying weekly / monthly but can save a lot of money. Do not forget to buy it with insurance just in case you loose it. Alternatively can walk or ride a bike if your university is nearby to your accommodation or you do not mind to walk 20-30 minutes. It’s free and healthy (the bicycle of course costs but can buy second-hand one).
Share a house. Shared house could be cheaper than home stay or student accommodation. Some institution offer the first month free at the student accommodation so you will have time to find your place. If you found it, try to find out about everything of the neighbourhood, transport etc. If it too cheap I would have a close look. Ask fellow students first who stay in the city longer than you do. Believe me you don’t want to stay in some “troubled” area…There are several choices. Can rent through property agency or from private landlord. Agency probably a bit more expensive but provide more security if anything broken they sort out the fixing quickly. Private landlord might be cheaper but watch out. Always ask contract and if he asking deposit keep the slip to prove it later. I hope that you will never need it, but better be on a safe side.
If you find a house, check the windows. If the windows are not double-glazed don’t take it because you will pay your ass off in wintertime for heating. UK in general not a warm place and even summertime could be chilli and windy. Double glaze matters! You can try to negotiate the rent down if you can handle the cold…
Bargain shopping. All the shops have special shelves with nearly expired food. You can buy perfect quality food maybe the packaging broken etc. For clothes you can do shopping in TK MAXX for instance. Brand names for fragile of the original price. (Unfortunately they not pay for me for this recommendation :D) Big shopping in high street shops happens every year after Christmas, starting 26th.. Honestly can buy nice staff for pennies. Good advice: do not take many clothes from home! Sincerely, the clothes are cheap in UK.
Do not go shopping if you hungry! Honestly it’s my own experience. If I did go to shop when I was starving easily bought much more stuff I needed. Drop in some burger or sandwich on the way, believe me it can save more.
Credit cards. Even if you are student sometimes bank offer a student credit card with limited credit limit. Be careful! Only use it if you are sure you can pay off your balance at the end of the month. If not you will have to pay the interest monthly. You not even realize and ending up donating your money to the bank.
Check it online! Before you buy some pricey stuff (like new laptop, mp3 player, etc.) check the prices online. Surprisingly sometimes in the same city could be a big difference for a same stuff. Also, if buy on-line, can find the same item with free home delivery and much cheaper.
Always keep your student card with you. Many places shops, restaurant even clubs offer discount (some club even free entry) with certain student card.
Coffee. Optional. I love good coffee. However I am not happy to pay 2-4 pounds for a cup of nice coffee.daily So I bought my simple coffee maker and the beans so I enjoy a nice cup of coffee at home. The maker cost like 10 cup of coffee on the high streets. Also it is handy when you study all night or writing assignments, papers. Obviously sometimes you will sit in somewhere to have a coffee with friends thats OK. But if you buy 2-3 latte in a daily basis could be quite pricey. It might be sounds like I am so stingy but in this case just practical.