• Buy a railcard
If you don’t already have one, your first student purchase should be a 16-25 railcard for a third off train tickets as well as Oyster card travel in London. A railcard costs £30 a year but you can save another £20 by buying a three-year card for £70. Visit 16-25railcard.co.uk
• Check your parents’ insurance
The average student has £4,591 worth of swag at university, according to an NUS survey for Endsleigh, the insurer. Most household policies offer cover for student possessions away from home, but the policy may need to be topped up to cover specific items such as a bike, guitar or laptop. Also, check that the insurance applies outside term time.
Also you may want to consider going on your parents’ automobile insurance policy instead of buying a new car on your name and getting a separate policy. If you decide to buy a policy on your name it may be cheaper to add an older and experienced driver on your policy. This is perfectly legal and brings down premiums. Getting an older person buy a policy for you and add you as listed driver may not be an honest and legal solution when you are the main driver. Another good solution for teenage drivers is to look into Pay As You Drive auto insurance policies. They can be considerably cheaper in comparison to traditional policies. Furthermore, they can go even lower if you don’t drive the car much. Most teenagers leave the car behind when they go to college that would mean low mileage since it sits there until the end of the term. Once the company sees you are not driving much your renewal premium will go down a lot.
• Choose your energy supplier carefully
You can save as much as £200 a year by opting for the cheapest energy tariff on the market for your student house. Renters are entitled to switch energy suppliers — if your landlord suggests otherwise you should challenge them. The cheapest tariffs are dual fuel paid by direct debit. USwitch.com offers clear comparisons based on postcode.
• Reduce how much energy you use
Unplugging your iPhone from permanent charge, or TV from standby, can save up to £80 a year; washing clothes at 30 degrees and not filling the kettle to the top saves £43. Now you just have to persuade your housemates to do the same. There are more energy saving tips at energysavingtrust.org.uk
• Buy speedy broadband
If you are in a shared house with three or more people opt for fibre-optic broadband, which offers enough bandwidth for everyone to watch Netflix, listen to Spotify and use Skype, all at the same time. Both BT and Virgin have 9 month deals for students. If there are fewer than three in a house, “student” contracts are actually more expensive than best-buy standard 12 month ADSL deals.
• Skip the phone line
Having to pay for a landline is a pain. You can buy mobile broadband which you don’t have to share with housemates, but speeds can vary so read reviews before signing up. Relish (www.relish.net) is a new provider offering quick, unlimited mobile internet, without the need to deal with BT, for £20 a month, but at the moment it is only available in selected areas of London.
• Watch BBC iPlayer
You don’t need a TV licence to watch television on “catch up” services online as long as you don’t stream live programmes, saving £145.50 a year. If you do have a TV in halls you can request a refund of about £37 for the summer holiday months. •
• Rent your books
Do not buy loads of heavy textbooks before you turn up at university, as you may be able to share with course mates or inherit books from people in the year above: look out for people selling them on Facebook. If you buy online, bookbrain.co.uk is a useful search engine to compare online shops. CourseSmart.co.uk lets you rent electronic versions of textbooks.
• Use food apps
You do not always need student recipe books. Smartphone apps, such as Foodmatic, suggest meals based on leftovers at the back of the fridge. If you don’t have a car, you can buy value packs of loo rolls and tinned tomatoes by doing an online shop. The websiteMysupermarket.com and its app, MySuperList, highlights the cheapest place for the groceries you want.
• Use Paym
As a student, you are forever owing someone money. Most banks now offer a shortcut to transferring cash using just your mobile number, rather than sort code and account numbers, so friends can text you money they owe without the excuse of not knowing your details. Meanwhile, generous parents can immediately transfer cash into your account if you find yourself short. Register at paym.co.uk