Everyone has their vices, but did you know your bad habits could be costing you £1,000s every year? And they could be easier to quit than you think!
The student lifestyle, while undoubtedly fun, can knock you out of financial shape if you don’t keep an eye on where your money goes.
The cost of every little habit adds up, so if you’re looking to cut back on your spending a little, following even a couple of these tips could save you a surprising amount of cash (and don’t worry, we’re not about to stop you ever having fun again).
The total cost of these habits across the year is well into the £1,000s and cutting is usually pretty easy, so there’s really no reason not to read on!
How to stop spending money on expensive habits
Eating out is always an enjoyable treat. But as this can be one of the biggest drains on your finances, we’d suggest limiting dining out to special occasions only – and even then, we’ve got a huge list of places where you can eat for free on your birthday!
That said, if you really enjoy wining and dining and couldn’t face giving it up, at least check if there are deals for restaurants in your area or see where your student discount can be used for dinner discounts.
We’ve got plenty more tips on saving money at restaurants in this guide too, if the pleasure of dining out is something you simply can’t live without!
Not to take away (pardon the pun) all your favourite things at once or anything, but takeaways shouldn’t really factor into your student budget.
Aside from obvious toll they can take on your health, takeaways are always way more expensive than cooking for yourself.
“But hey, what if I want the sweet, sweet taste of KFC?”, we hear you ask. Well fortunately, this student chef showed us how to recreate the colonel’s finest, as well as Nando’s, Pizza Express, Wagamama and more for just £2 a pop!
And if you really can’t do without your fill, at least use our guide to saving money on takeaways.
Buying bottled water
Sure, it’s convenient to buy a bottle of water whenever you want – but it can slowly start adding up when bottles cost anything from 50p to £1 each. Even just one a day can amount to as much as £365 every year!
A better alternative is to get a flask or refillable bottle, which can be bought on Amazon from as little £3 (although we’re big fans of the slightly more expensive flask-style bottles which keep your drink cold/hot for hours on end!).
You could also consider getting a Bobble – a refillable water bottle which has a built-in filtering system, which is perfect if you’re worried about the quality of water coming out of the library toilet taps. They cost between £8 – £12 (ish) depending on size, but are worth the investment in the long run.
As for the water itself, the drive to end plastic waste has seen more and more companies offer to refill your water bottle for free. If you’re ever in need of a top up, use the Refill app and you’ll be shown a map of all the places nearby where you can refill for free.
And if you simply can’t stand any water that isn’t bottled, you’re much better off buying a huge bottle from the supermarket and refilling from that instead – it’s much cheaper per millilitre when you buy it in larger quantities!
Paying for stuff you can get for free
It’s not just water that people often pay over the odds for. As our ultimate list of free stuff goes to show, you can get your hands on anything and everything (not everything) for absolutely nothing – as long as you know where to look.
We all need to eat, sure. But why pay for your grub? Our guide to getting free food is packed full of ways to legally score your next meal at no cost, so maybe it’s worth delaying that trip to the supermarket you were planning.
In fact, if your birthday’s coming up, you could be dining out for free for a week thanks to all the birthday freebies on offer from your favourite shops and restaurants. And you can get a few beauty treatments and clothing discounts too!
As for textbooks… well, aside from checking out the library to see if you can rent the book for free, we’ve got a list of ways to get your reading list for less. And if all else fails, you could sell your existing books to fund this year’s collection.
Daily takeaway coffee
Buying a coffee from chains like Starbucks or Costa on the way to uni every day may be a good wake-me-up, but it can burn a serious hole in your pocket.
You’re much better off brewing your own at home with one of our fav kitchen gadgets (number 10 on this list) and popping it in a thermos to take to uni with you.
If you really don’t think your homemade coffee is up to the task, it’s worth looking for smaller local cafes on your way to uni – these tend to be cheaper than Starbucks and the like.
What’s more, almost every week we see different brands offering deals on free coffee – keep an eye on our Facebook page or join our WhatsApp group for more info!
Pre-drinking anywhere other than at home
Meeting up at a local pub or the SU before a night out can be great, but it’s also likely to add between £10 – £20 onto the cost of your night out.
Save money on going out by having people over to your house for pre-drinks (or going over to a friend’s). It costs much less, and it’s a lot easier to play drinking games too!
And if you’re sick of budget cider, check out our guide to making the best homemade cocktails – you don’t have to be a bartender to master them, promise.
But clearly the biggest saving of all will come by not going out in the first place…
We’re under no illusions here – we know that if you like drinking, you’re probably not going to stop (and we don’t want you to!). But if you make it too frequent a habit, the financial drain will creep up on you (and your liver!).
Probably the best way forward is to drink at weekends only. Alternatively, if you’re a mid-week kinda person (which also happens to be when going out is cheaper, thanks to student nights and the like), pick two days in the week to drink on instead.
You might find this gives your grades a boost too!
Even if it is just a few quid here and there, impulse buying is another major cash-killer.
Whether it’s a caramel frappuccino from your local Starbucks or a late night takeaway when you can’t be bothered to cook, always stop and ask yourself whether you really need it. We know it’s easier said than done, but if you can enforce a bit more self-restraint then you can save some serious cash.
Also try saving up your spare change, so you’re not tempted to spend a few quid just because it’s rolling around.
Find an old jar and store your spare change in there instead. Take it to the bank once it’s full, and there’s your emergency survival money to get you to Student Loan payment day!
Getting taxis and Ubers
It’s easy to fall into the trap of stealing an extra 10 minutes in bed, missing the bus and then ending up having to get a taxi to uni to avoid having to copy your mate’s lecture notes for the third week in a row. We’ve all been there!
But even just one or two taxis a week can really add up, so as painful as it can be, obeying your alarm might be the best bet after all.
Of course, sometimes a taxi or an Uber can be the best way to get home from a night out. But if you’re going out with your housemates or people who live near you, see if there’s a night bus that you can all take home together – it’s still safe, and it’s a lot cheaper.
Although that’s not to say you should start taking public transport everywhere, either…
Using public transport
For some students, public transport can be a necessity. But for a lot of us, if we’re being totally honest, it’s just an opportunity to be lazy and avoid walking to lectures.
If you’re serious about saving the pennies, this tip is a must. Public transport is expensive (even with our tips for saving money on trains and buses), so even just reducing your use of it will have a positive effect on your bank balance.
For example, if you love your lie-ins, why not cut your transport bill in half by only using it to get to uni, and walking back instead?
If walking to uni would be a serious trek for you, why not buy a bike second-hand or see if there’s any going on Freecycle or any of these other swapping sites.
Buying branded goods and the best of everything
Everyone knows there’s not really that much difference between a plain white ASOS t-shirt and a plain white Ralph Lauren t-shirt (other than the price, obv), but it’s funny how dedicated people can be to brands – even when you’re living off a measly Maintenance Loan.
For example, many students use Benefit products, but Soap and Glory offer a cheaper alternative that consistently scores just as well when they’re compared. At £5(ish) for a Soap & Glory cleanser and £16(ish) for a Benefit one, the price difference is clear!
We’re also huge advocates of the supermarket downshift, which is basically a process of dropping down one or more tiers on the ladder of prices.
Once again there’s often little or no difference between the big brands and the cheaper, lesser-known labels and own-brand basics. This goes for food and drink, but also things like medicine and cleaning products too (you could save a mint by going for these alternatives instead).
Don’t believe us? Have a look for yourself and compare the ingredients – they’re often exactly the same (especially with medicines)!
Buying the latest version of everything
Having the most up-to-date products might make you the big name on campus (spoiler: it actually probably won’t), but it’s an unnecessary expense that you just can’t afford during your uni years.
The latest iPhone isn’t even that different from the previous model in terms of what it can do – and just think about what you can do with that cash instead.
Plus, the older models can be scooped up for as little as half the price!
Of course, this rule doesn’t just apply to phones. You’re often much better off starting your clothes shop in the sales/outlets as although they might feature a lot of what’s technically last season’s lines, most of it will still be good for a long time to come.
Getting the wrong type of insurance
You probably went off to uni with all the essential gadgets you can think of… phone, iPad, laptop, games console – you name it (they are essentials, right?).
And in the fear that something terrible could happen to your precious gadgets, you may have paid out for different insurance for each gadget, without really considering how much this adds up to per month (the answer being: a lot).
Investigating what contents insurance options are available as a student is always worth a bit of time, and should be re-evaluated yearly to see what new deals are going.
You’ll find that you can usually cover all of your gadgets under one policy, and for a fraction of the price – that is, if you’re not already covered by your parents’ policy!
Paying for a gym membership
Maybe you’re on a mission to get swoll, or even just lose a few pounds. But remember there are other ways to get fit rather than joining the gym.
Even a cheap gym membership will set you back around £15/month – or, to put it another way, £180 a year.
As ever though, if you do insist on paying for a gym membership, at least follow our advice on getting it cheaper.
We all know fags don’t come cheap, but annoyingly they’re probably the hardest expense to kick.
You’re probably familiar with the old favourites for quitting smoking, like nicotine patches and gum, but did you know that even smoking as few as five cigarettes a day could cost over £900 a year?!
If the idea of quitting cold turkey makes you want to run to the hills, you could try e-cigarettes or limiting your smoking time to nights out and social occasions (as long as those times don’t occur every day of the week – remember the money-saving goal here).
We’ve got a whole guide to giving up smoking, and we promise it’s not preachy!
Buying food on campus
Campus meals are certainly tempting. What’s not to like about rolling out of a lecture and straight towards the alluring smell of the nearby canteen?
Well here’s one thing not to like: the price.
As with most of these, it might not seem like much to do it once or twice, but the cost can soon add up. Instead, do a bit of forward planning and prepare your lunch and snacks the day before (and maybe try some of these cheap but fancy sandwich ideas).
Going food shopping without a list
Supermarkets are out to make money and will do anything to get you to spend that little bit extra – so much so that they employ these tricks to get you spending more.
As such, you need to fight back in the best way possible: make a rough meal plan for the week, write down what you’ll need, and stick to it!
Need more help with saving on your food shopping? We’ve got a whole guide to help you with that too.
It may not seem like you’re saving a lot by quitting these small habits – but if you admit to indulging in everything listed above, quitting them all could save you over £100 every week.
If that’s not enough motivation to start changing your habits, we don’t know what is!
In the mood for saving money? Check out our huge list of ways to save cash.