Learning how to manage a budget and your expenses is an important skill which will not only be important for while you are studying but for your life after University too. So now is a better time as any to start this new habit - it will make your life easier and avoid those “where did all my money go” days.
Here’s the rundown of our favourite cash-saving tips…
1. EARN EXTRA MONEY
If you fancy the idea of making some extra cash on campus, why not head to the SU website and looking for current vacancies. Job opportunities are advertised throughout the year, so make sure you always have your CV up-to-date! If you would like to find out more about jobs at the University you can also head to Career Hub, log in (using your Essex login details) and search through dozens of opportunities.
Remember, before applying to any paid opportunities you should check whether you have the Right to Work in the UK and if so how many hours you can work, according to your visa conditions - for more info on this, click here. Clarifying this in advance will help you to look for the right employment and avoid possible immigration breaches.
2. DISCOUNTS, DISCOUNTS, DISCOUNTS
Make the most of online discounts and coupons. UniDays offers you discounts on big brands, Spotify subscriptions, tech equipment, meals out, days out and much more. You will need to provide your University details to register.
Waterstones now have a student rewards scheme called Plus Student which might come in handy when buying your textbooks for your classes. You get 10% off in association with UniDays and you get stamps when you spend that give you money off later. Handy when you need those textbooks for term two.
If you are a fan of one-day deliveries (is there anyone on earth who isn’t?) you should definitely give Amazon Prime Student a try for free for six months (after this period, monthly charges of £3.99 will apply though!). All you have to do is go on their website and confirm your Essex email address – easy! Friendly warning: free one-day deliveries can be extremely addictive. This also gives you access to exclusive offers, prime photos, prime music, prime video, money of university essentials and textbooks, and much more.
Managing your term-time budget can be quite tricky, so why not keep track of every penny you spend? There are some good tools to help you stick to a budget and save some cash.
The University has a money management support programme. Or if you are a fan of DIY stuff, you might fancy writing down your own budget planner. Or if you are more into tech platforms, there are dozens of websites and mobile apps that will do the job for you.
Check this useful article that lays down the best money-saving apps for students.
SU Advice also offers a lot of money managing advice if you think you need a hand or have any questions. They can provide basic advice on paying and reclaiming tax, give advice on council tax (for example if you believe you have been wrongly charged), help you with setting up billing accounts and paying bills, figure out TV licencing and they can provide you with a repayable Short-term Hardship Loan if things get tough. Find out more here.
5. OPENING A UK BANK ACCOUNT
You can open an account anytime throughout the year and there are plenty of branches in Colchester that you can visit, as well as a Santander on campus.
Wondering how the whole process works? The University’s banking guide explains it all. Or you can use Which?, which is a website that helps you to compare different banks and account types.
To open an account, UK students will need at least one form of photographic I.D, maybe two and you will need to provide the bank with your personal information. EU students only need to bring their Passport/EEA National Identity card, and International Students must present their valid visa/immigration documents (this is usually on your Passport) or Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). You will also be asked to present a Bank Letter, which you can request during the University’s registration day or later on through the Student Services Hub, which is the place where you can ask questions about money, accommodation, official documents.
At Loughton, you can get a printed proof of address from the reception at Hatfields (make sure that your information on your myessex account is updated).
It’s a good idea to do research in advance to see what the branch you’re visiting requires you to have with you when opening an account and to bring these all with you to the appointment.
Most bank branches have accounts designed especially for students, so ask them for more information on this.
And it might be a good idea to open a savings account while you are there too, to help with those months where emergency payments might need to be made outside of your usual budget. It’s always good to have a rainy-day fund.
Colchester Campus: If you are at Colchester Campus, you can find a Santander on campus. But you can also find a Barclays, Halifax, Lloyds, HSBC, Co-Op, Metro and more in the town centre which is just a short bus ride away.
Loughton Campus: Locally you’ll find Lloyds, Halifax, Santander, Barclays, HSBC, and NatWest bank branches located in Debden and Loughton. But appointments can fill up quickly so if you want to open an account you might want to make your appointment as soon as possible.
6. TRAVEL FOR LESS (COLCHESTER STUDENTS)
The best way to save money as soon as you get to campus is to get your First Bus pass. Taking advantage of early bird season tickets is very simple: just go to SU reception (next to the SU Bar on Square 3), and bring one passport photo and your student card. You can get a physical pass or download the app to your phone.
A Zone One travel pass costs:
- £12.40 (Week)
- £44.50 (Month)
- £170 (Year)
And this is valid from Wivenhoe to North Station (and everywhere in between!)
If your time in the UK requires a lot of travelling between airports, or if you just want to explore what’s out there (besides lovely Colchester), then getting a Coach card from National Express could be a way to cut down the travel expenses. Or if you prefer to travel by train, you can explore what benefits a Railcard can offer.
7. ON-CAMPUS SAVINGS (COLCHESTER STUDENTS)
And you can also get discount on campus.
All of our members are eligible to sign up for an SU Saver Card. There will be different offers every week so keep an eye out on our SU Saver Card page (Colchester students), because who can say no to a free slice of pizza or extra fries! Sign up here. (UPDATE 28/10/19: Sign-ups for the SU Saver Card have now closed, if you already have a card, keep an eye on the page for the weekly discounts!)
If you're at Colchester you can also download the Essex Food Rewards app which allows you to save some cash when using the University’s food outlets. Also, you get 10p off any hot drink every time you take your own reusable cups to our SU venues.
Finally, the first item on your list if you like nights out should be your Freshers Wristband! You can guarantee yourself entry to every single event during freshers on campus, or you can grab a term pass that can get you into every event in the term (even if it's sold out).