6 Household Money-Saving Tips for Students

If it’s your first time living away from home, it can be difficult to keep track of where all your money’s going (other than the obvious…), and hence it’s all too easy to skint yourself out. With this in mind, we’ve put together some tips on saving money on your household finances, so your student loan can stretch just that bit further.
1. Your home insurance
If you’ve never paid for home contents insurance before, then you can be forgiven for thinking that someone else has your back. However, this almost certainly isn’t the case… You are unlikely to be fully covered by your parents’ policy, which tend to include limitations such as only affording 90 days of cover in the year. And if you think you’re protected by your landlord’s policy, then you’re dreaming.
So why do you even need home insurance? Well, unfortunately students are more likely to be burgled than other households for starters. Your laptops, consoles, music players and so on are well worth protecting, and it is possible to do so for surprisingly little money. In fact, some providers offer specialist insurance for students, which can include cover for walk-in theft with no need to prove forced entry (very handy for halls of residence), and even stretch to library books and lost keys.
If you want lower premiums, it’s a good idea to reduce the risk of your insurance provider having to pay out. Taking some common sense safety steps such as having locks on the windows, bedroom doors and a burglar alarm may well reduce how much you have to pay in insurance.
2. Your energy bills
If you want to save a bit of money, it’s an idea not to be lazy and just stick to the previous tenants’ gas and electricity companies. There may well be much cheaper deals floating around. In fact it’s quite likely, as often the supplier will revert to a standard CAC (Cash And Cheque) tariff, whereas it is cheaper to pay by Direct Debit.
As soon as you get to the property, be sure to take a meter reading. Then if you compare energy suppliers you can decide for yourself which tariff works out cheapest. You may even be better off switching supplier. Don’t worry though – if you commit to this, there won’t be any need for workmen to come to the house, and you’ll still have an uninterrupted supply.
If your property is going to be empty between academic terms – especially over the summer holiday – then it might be smart to choose a tariff with no standing charge. After all, where’s the sense in paying for something when you’re not there?
3. Your broadband
Internet access is incredibly important for students. Whether you’re using it to research your course, looking up recipes for those on a shoestring, or just staying up late at night watching clips of some seriously iffy kung-fu, you’ll want good value broadband.
What you might not know is that the cost of mobile broadband has dropped fairly considerably over the last year. It’s well worth looking into packages for a number of reasons – not least because you can ditch the land line, and the £10+ monthly line rental charge that goes with it.
You can compare mobile broadband packages online to see if you can find anything that suits (on our comparison page, select ‘Tell us your broaband requirements’). Alternatively, if you suspect you’re going to spend a lot of time glued to the goggle-box, you might save money by having a combined digital TV, broadband and home phone bundle. All the annual costs are presented upfront on our site, so you don’t have to worry about being stung by any hidden charges.

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4. Your tenancy
If you’re going to rent a property for a year, it’s best to make sure that all the paperwork is up to scratch, as the last thing you want (especially in finals year) is to get fleeced over your house.
Firstly, it’s wise to ensure that the landlord has a ‘House in Multiple Occupation’ (HMO) license if the property is three or more storeys high, and if it has five or more occupants. This license requires the landlord to be a competent property manager, so – in theory – he or she shouldn’t do a cowboy job if anything goes wrong in your building.
Secondly, make sure you’re absolutely happy with your tenancy agreement. If you’re not, seek advice before committing to it. You don’t want to find yourself on the receiving end of some particularly onerous obligations, and even less so if they’re outlined in black and white with your signature beneath.
In terms of general obligations, you will be responsible for paying your rent on time, your utilities bills (unless agreed otherwise), and keeping the place in generally good nick if you want to keep hold of your deposit. You shouldn’t have to pay council tax on account of being in full-time education. The landlord is responsible for keeping the structure, plumbing, electrics and gas (including the boiler) in order. They are also responsible for ensuring the house is fit for habitation.
If you want to know more, DirectGov’s page on renting student accommodation is a pretty safe bet.
5. Your dinner
Feeding yourself is one of life’s pleasures. But as delicious as a takeaway may be after an evening on the pop, it’s not really sustainable to do this every night if you’re on a budget. So it’s time to learn to cook! Student Recipes.com is a pretty good place to start, it’s got a large database of simple and cheap meals. Not only that, but they’re reader submitted, and there’s a five-star rating system so you can tell the popular dishes from the stinkers.
You’ll find it works out a good deal cheaper to cook in rotation for the whole group, rather than for yourself each night. It may be tricky if people in the house are very particular about their dietary requirements, or have allergies – but if everyone’s game, then why not? As well as saving money, you’ll invariably learn good recipes and handy tips from one another. You could even have a Come Dine With Me-style competition if you so choose.
Obviously, everybody likes to eat out once in a while, so it’s a good idea to look for vouchers and discounts before doing so. Student Beans is a really good site to find out what offers are available for students… Not just for eating out, but for other deals too.
6. Last but not least
The best tip we can offer those leaving the simple security of their regular home life and diving headfirst into the big, scary world of higher education is – have an amazing time!

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