Making ends meet on a student budget isn't easy. This guide includes tons of money saving tips, but check out our guide to student finances and our  our student bills guidefor even more help.

Why do student discounts exist? 

83% of students are more likely to buy from brands that offer student discounts, according to Student beans, so really it's all a marketing technique.

But that doesn't mean it isn't handy! Full-time students can struggle for cash, so make the most of your student status and make those savings and special offers while you can!  

There's a wide range of student discounts out there from huge brands like Amazon Prime Student and Audible which can help you live your best life while still keeping things realistic for actual student living costs.

Stores and subscription services may lose money in the short term by giving cheaper access to students, but it builds lifetime loyalty so it's worth the investment for them.

Top student discount sites:

  1. Unidays
    A well-loved student discount site with tons of shops to get % off. With a range of student discounts for brands like ASOS, Nike, and Apple, it's no wonder it's so popular.

    Shopping IRL and forgotten your student discount cards? No probs! The UniDays app also features a place to create your own digital student discount card, which most shops will allow you to use to grab discounts in store. 

  2. Student Beans
    Another great place to find student discount codes, including savings for brands you won't find on UniDays! There's also £50 cashback when you sign up forstudent utility bills with Fused. Just saying.

  3. Totum
    You can grab a free digital Totum card to access their student deals. There are also options to pay annually for more perks, such as a free Tastecard. Prices start at £24.99 a year. 

How to save money every day as a student

Food and travel can all add up super quickly. But there are ways to keep the costs down.

Save on travel


If you're traveling by train or the tube in London, cut down on travel costs by investing in a 16–25 Railcard, where you'll get 1/3 off travel. On average, you could save £159 annually! It only costs £30 for one year, or grab a bargain and go for the three-year option for £70.

TOP TIP: Keep an eye out for discount codes and promos; someone in the Fused team was able to bag a railcard for £12 one year!

  • Other travel savings:
    Check out sites that offer Railcards with huge discounts. But take note: to unlock these discounts, you'll need to use their website to book a trip. They currently offer a Railcard for £5.99 if you book a hotel room through 

  • Check out your bank:
    Santander is currently offering a free 4-year 16–25 Railcard if you open up a student account.  (As of the end of July 2023, that is.)

Cut down the cost of food as a student

Yes, your parents will probably send you on your way to uni with a stack of food. But, it doesn't last forever! You and your bank account will soon come to terms with how expensive food shopping can be. The cost of living hasn't made things any easier, the price of food has seen an inflation of an eye-watering 19%

Fakeaways could be the answer…

Getting carried away with takeaways is super easy, but you can get more for your money by cooking your favs yourself. Why not make your own fakeaways? You can create your favourite fast food for a fraction of the price. The cheap Big Mac Tacostrended on TikTok for a bit...The Fused tea had a go, and the hype was NOT unfounded.

Save on your supermarket shop as a student

Get an exclusive student discount at Co-Op by signing up for a Totum card. You can grab a digital version for free, but these only last for a year.  Or, you can invest in a three-year Totum card for £24.99, which will get you a Tastecard for free, too! 

It's also worth signing up to loyalty schemes like Tesco Clubcard, Asda Rewards, etc. Those little daily shops soon add up and can lead to some pretty decent savings!

Dine out for less:

Tastecard offers 2-for-1 dining, up to 50% off your fave restaurants, 50% off pizza delivery, savings on days out, and money off top UK cinemas. What's not to like?

Smarter food shopping

Small swaps can make a big difference.

Try to ditch the big-name brands and check out the supermarket's own brands. Do you really need your cornflakes to be Kellogg's? Maybe you do, but there are probably supermarket own brand staples that are no different to the brand version, and waaaay cheaper. 

Try going later in the evening to grab the best bargains in the reduced section. Each supermarket differs, check out this blog for the best times to find yellow sticker items the next time you go grocery shopping. 

Learn to cook. Embrace your inner chef.

Eating on a budget doesn't mean eating bland foods. Say no to cheap ramen packets and hello to tasty, cheap eats! 

Author and anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe has a cookbook filled with over 100 recipes that are budget-friendly. 

Don't look at the downside; being at university is a great time to try new skills and become a boss in the kitchen. Remember to keep a varied diet; eating nutritious food is really good for the brain. So feed your face and fly through your essays.

BBC Food has great resources for cheap eats and a budget meal plan for one. They've pulled together seven meals for under £10! This is a great tool to help you get your student loan to go further. Plus, the recipes look delicious, too. You can check it out here. 

Team up to tackle food waste (and wasted money…)

The annoying thing about shopping and cooking for one is that the prices all start to add up. Most supermarkets don't have the option to purchase meals for one.

Only need one chicken breast? You'll probs have to buy a pack of two. The same goes for veggies; those big bags of salad and carrots go off sooner than you think, which just wastes money when you need to throw them away. 

There are kitchen staples everybody needs, so pool together with yourhousemates.Take turns buying things like kitchen rolls, butter, milk, and tea bags.

Agree in the group chat which staples you want to share so everybody is happy and you avoid arguments and save money!

Get treats and save the planet!

Save money and combat food waste at the same time! Too Good To Go offers discounts on unsold food from restaurants, grocery stores, cafes, and shops. It stops businesses binning unsold food AND you get a cheap dinner, and help the planet.

Food waste means resources are used to replace perfectly good food. Selling it at a discount means businesses reduce their carbon footprint, and you get a tasty deal. 

Big names like Starbucks and Yo Sushi are signed up, as well as tons of local independent stores.

What you'll get is a mystery, but that's all part of the fun. All dietary requirements are considered, with some places letting you choose veggie and vegan mystery bags.

Download money-management apps and plugins 

Money management is key to saving money during your time at university. It's really easy to get carried away when yourstudent loan arrives each semester.

Money management apps

Plum, Emma and Snoop
These apps all use open banking technology to make it easy to see how and where you're spending your money.

They work more or less the same way with different features and displays to suit your needs. It's worth trying a few of them - they usually offer a free trial - to see which one seems like the best fit.

They can help you keep an eye on your outgoings, and even having algorithms that can automatically save money for you.

Browser plugins

If you ever take a break from coursework for some retail therapy, it's worth installing browser extensions on your laptop that automatically apply discount codes to your online basket. You can still shop to ease the stress, but it'll save you some cash.

Honeyis a top-rated coupon extension for Chrome which for discount codes and coupons across more than 33,000 sites and automatically lets you know if there's a saving available before you shop!

Research student bank accounts and their offers 

When you're sorting your student loan, you should open a student bank account. Your money will be paid into your account each month, and you'll get a debit card to make paying in or taking out money easy. 

Opening a student bank account is simple, and there are usually deals to make money easier to manage for students. You'll need your university acceptance letter and proof of identity, like your passport, driver's licence, birth certificate, or UCAS code. 

Keep in mind that a 0% overdraft means you won't be charged interest if your bank becomes overdrawn, which could save you a lot of money. A Taste Card might be a nice thing to have, but it's no good to you if you can't afford to eat out because your treats budget is being eaten up by interest payments 😒

BUT a rail card could save you lot of money if you plan to travel, so it might be worth getting a smaller overdraft for those savings. 

  • Natwest Student Account
    0% overdraft up to £2000 and a free four-year Taste Card.

  • Sandtander Edge Student Current Account
    0% overdraft up to £2000 and a four-year 16-25 railcard.

  • Royal Bank of  Scotland Student Account
    0% overdraft up to £2,000 and a four-year taste card. (Overdraft is limited in your first term, and then increases in your third year.)

  • HSBC Student Bank Account
    0% overdraft up to £3000

  • Nationwide Student FlexStudent
    0% overdraft up to £3000

  • Halifax Student Current Account
    0% overdraft up to £1500

  • Lloyds Student Account
    0% overdraft up to £2000

  • Barclays Student Additions
    0% overdraft up to £1500

  • TSB Student Account
    0% overdraft up to £1500
    Earn 5% interest on your balance when you're in credit. 

  • The Co-Op Student Account
    0% overdraft up to £2000

Use an overdraft responsibly! 

Get cashback when you shop

Earn money back every time you shop online! Some brands will give you cash if you buy something from them by going to an external website. They're a great way to earn a bit of cash back on your online shopping and to create a savings pot. If you just can't say no to a little splurge now and then, you could earn £££ by using a cashback site.. 

1. Use a cashback site 

Start the  habit of buying things through a cashback site. You could earn a fair bit over time, and there are no hidden costs to reputable sites.

1. Sign up for a reputable cashback site like: TopCashback, Swagbucks, or Quidco

2. When shopping online, open a new tab with your cashback account. Search for the retailer you're thinking about buying from, e.g., Asos or Nike. 

3. Click the link to the brand's homepage. 

4. Complete your purchase as usual. Cashback sites automatically track links so you'll get your cashback later.

5. Your cashback could be pending for a couple of months, but this is totally normal. Once it's confirmed, you can withdraw the money whenever you like. It’s a good idea to use it as a savings fund to treat yourself in the future. 

2. Use your bank for cashback 

Some banks offer cashback current accounts. When you make purchases or even pay bills, you get a lil’ bit of cashback. 

Careful, though! Check the T&Cs before you open an account; some will ask you to pay a monthly fee for the cashback service, but some banks offer it for free. Head to your banking app, find cashback, and choose the retailers you want to earn from. 

How much cash back can you get by shopping online? 

The amount of cashback you can earn varies by retailer and even monthly. Make sure to check back, some brands will offer exclusive cashback rewards as a promo. 

Here are the typical cash-back rates for some retailers: (Last updated April 2024!)

  • ASOS: up to 6.3% cashback
  • Deliveroo: up to 5.55% cashback
  • Amazon: up to 2.5% cashback
  • Nike: up to 12% cashback
  • O2: Up to £100 cashback 

Easy ways to make extra money for students

Some of these are pretty low effort, and might just be a few quid here and there, but it all adds up. Here are a few ways you can make extra cash with minimal effort. 

Refer a friend to earn cash

Tons of online stores and services offer a refer a friend or affiliate scheme. You send a unique link to your friends; they make a purchase or sign up, and you get a reward. The business will get more customers, and you (and sometimes your mate) make extra cash. Win, win! 

  • Monzo Bank Account
    Refer a friend, and you'll both get £5 for free! Your friend needs to sign up for Monzo and make one purchase with the new account. Easy peasy. There's no cap on this. So, if you know a bunch of people who don't use Monzo, refer them, and watch your money grow. 

  • Three
    This one could be a biggie! Share your unique code from the mobile company, and you can earn anything from £5 up to £80 to split, depending on which plan they sign up for.

  • TopCashback 
    This cashback site offers a few refer-a-friend promos, including the chance to bag £30 if you get a friend to sign up.

  • BooHoo
    This scheme doesn't pay cash but gives your friend 10% off their next purchase. Don't worry, you don't go empty handed. You'll get a £5 BooHoo voucher to use on your next haul. 

  • Fused
    Earn £50 when you refer a friend to Fused Bills. And your mate gets £50 too!

    Head to yourFused dashboard for more info and to start inviting friends! 

Little tasks to make extra cash 

Got some time to kill? Stop scrolling on TikTok (for a bit) for some easy ways to make easy money. These are flexible ways to make some extra money while you’re at university—some even in the comfort of your student house

You could earn £100s a year if you participate in paid surveys and test free products. There are dozens of market research companies out there looking for people to fill out online surveys for rewards and cash. If you're interested, make sure that they're a legit website that will definitely pay out. 

  1. Branded Surveys
    Amounts per survey: 50 - 500 points (100 points = $1 or £0.77) 

  2. Swagbucks 
    Amounts per survey: 30 - 150 SB points (100 SB = $1 or £0.77).

  3. Toluna
    Amount per survey: 1,200 - 50,000 points (80,000 points get you a £15 voucher).

Earn cashback when you shop irl

BeMyEyeoffers cash rewards for completing missions in shops.

Complete missions for varying cash rewards. Some missions include speaking to store staff about recommended products, photographing shelves, or something as simple as taking a few pictures and answering a couple of questions. 

How it works: 

  1. Download the app and book a mission.
  2. Go to the store indicated in the app at the specific time.
  3. Complete the task, following all the steps, and tap "Finish Mission".
  4. Get paid! 

Thrift for fits - cheaper clothes for students

"I like your outfit." "Thanks, it only cost me £3!" There is no better feeling than grabbing the bargain of the century. It's no wonder that buying secondhand is becoming more and more popular. Plus, it's better for the environment, too. 

One of the Fused team members grabbed a Caharrt shirt for £4.99 that was on ASOS for £90! 

Go searching in your local charity shops for outfits for less. You can even get brand-new stuff for cheaper. The British Heart Foundation has collaborated with Zara and other brands, so you can bag surplus stock for a fraction of the price. 

Places like Vinted, eBay, and Depop are great places to find clothing for less. They're also amazing for making some extra cash. Don't wear those trainers anymore? Stick them online and make money! 

Online selling can also be a great place to make money with creative hobbies. Crafty? Arty? Sell your stuff online and start your own business. 

Here's a breakdown of places to sell and their fees: 

  1. Vinted 
    Listing everything on Vinted is 100% free. Postage costs are also paid upfront, so you'll never have to pay out of pocket for them. You'll be paid as soon as the buyer confirms they've received their item. Everything you make on Vinted is yours to keep, they don't take a cut from any of your sales.

  2. eBay 
    The OG of online buying and selling, eBay now has free listings for clothing! 

    Sell, clothing, old furniture, and even used uni textbooks; the options are limitless! Adding listings will vary in fees, but they'll always be upfront. Depending on how much and the value of the sale, eBay may take a percentage of the final sale. You can calculate how much you'll need to pay or earn here.

  3. Depop 
    A great place to find unique items and sell your old stuff. People tend to head to Depop to sell higher-value items, you can find luxury brands and beauty products on their platform, but you can sell anything you like. There are also items on there where you can grab a bargain! It's free to list on Depop, but they will charge a 10% fee on the total transaction.

Save money on your student bills

There's a whole guide to setting up student bills and the best way to the pay the bills in your student house, so we won't go into too much detail here.

You'll need to pay forenergy, broadband, TV and water bills in your student house, and there a services like Fused designed tomake student bills easy.

Money-saving uni hacks 

Getting yourstudent loanall at once is a huuuuuge temptation. It's a whole lotta money, and it’s super easy to get carried away; we've all done it.

Here are some money-saving hacks from the Fused team and other handy tips to help you budget in everyday life as a student. 

Separate bank accounts for bills and fun money 

“Fun Money” is everything that’s left over once you’ve subtracted your bills, food and travel expenses from your bank account. This is to pay for everything else: we’re talking nights out, cinema trips, brunches, and a cheeky pint after a lecture. 

Pop your fun money into a separate bank account like a Monzo or Sterling account.

  • Apps like Monzo or Starling have a good understanding of what you spend your money on the most and will create a graph so you can keep track. This is an easy and simple way to make sure you're not going overboard with your spending habits. 

  • Not having enough money left for bills is really bad for yourcredit score, which you'll really need in the future.

Ask for help

Another simple way is to have someone back homemanage your finances while you're at uni, if you really want to keep an eye of things there’s nothing wrong with asking for help.

A few Fused team members never had access to their full student loan. Their parents kept their student loans and sent money weekly. This always made sure there was enough for bills and the fun stuff! It’s a good way to stay out of debt if you think it would work for you. 

Don't go wild with overdrafts and credit cards 


Save The Student's National Student Money Survey showed that 36% of students said they use their overdraft as a source of income. 44% also said they turn to banks when they're in need of emergency money. 

Overdrafts can be super handy, especially with 0% interest for student accounts. But please remember that overdrafts are NOT free money. It's a loan you'll have to pay back eventually; overdrafts can be tough to keep on top of, and can take yeeeears to pay back. Literally.  

Basically, an overdraft is when the bank lets you spend more money than you actually have in your bank account. You'll be given a pre-agreed amount to stick to. 

You need to think of an overdraft like an emergency fund and only dip into it when you really need to.

When you go into your overdraft, it'll show up in your online banking as a minus number. So, if you spend £200 and only have £100 in your account, it'll show up as '-£100'. 

Your available balance will usually show how much your arranged overdraft is.

An unplanned or unarranged overdraft is when you’ve spent more than you have in your account. Banks tend to charge a fee when this happens; it's best to avoid this as much as possible. 

Credit cards

You can apply for credit cards as soon as you turn 18, and a lot of banks offer student-specific credit cards. A credit card allows you to spend borrowed money in-store or online, like you’d use your current account debit card. You get a monthly bill which will usually have interest added to it, which is a percentage of the money you owe added on top to the total you spend. Your credit rating affects what you’re allowed to borrow, and using a credit card sensibly can build your credit rating. 

  • It's important to pay the bill in full every month, or you'll pay interest. It's easy to get carried away, so if money management is a struggle for you, credit cards should be used with caution or not at all!
  • Some credit cards have very high interest rates, which means your debt can grow more than with other types of borrowing, and you can find yourself in a debt spiral:
    • For example, if you borrowed £3,000 when you were 21 and only made the minimum repayments, you'd be 50 by the time it was paid off.

      AND if you miss a payment or go over your credit limit, you can severely damage your credit score. 

What about Klarna, ClearPay and other buy-now-pay-later options?

Be careful with buy now, pay later (BNPL) options when shopping online. 

  • 51% of 18–24-year-olds are unaware that BNPL purchases can lead to debt.
  • Services such as Klarna, ClearPay, and Monzo Flex can make it tempting to make a big purchase and pay it off when you get paid. 
  • It can be easy to rack up purchases and payments, making it unrealistic to pay them off the following month. 
  • A cycle can start by paying off previous months' purchases with each payday. Some people have even gotten into debt by using BNPL to purchase food—yep, you can even use it for Deliveroo! 
  • Fancy buying some new clothes? Try to only purchase what you can afford to make sure you stay out of debt! 

Falling behind on payments on overdrafts, credit cards, and BNPL can seriously affect your credit score. You might not feel as though this is something you need to worry about at the moment, but your credit score is important as it affects all things money-related. It could mess with your chances of getting a phone contract or buying a car or house; it even affects your chances of being able to rent a property

Do I need to know anything else? 

We cover lots of different topics that cover all aspects of student life. Check these out: