Students have always been strapped for cash. Making ends meet on a student budget isn't easy; the cost of living is higher, and tuition fees are more expensive so even after uni, things are more expensive than ever. Even with a student loan, extra cash is hard to come by.

Student life is stressful enough. Money worries, on top of keeping up with deadlines, can affect you personally and even academically. Get budget savvy with our top tips on how you can save money at uni. 

Why do student discounts exist? 

To sum it up, you're kind of a big deal. That's right, businesses love their student consumers, and offering student discounts means you're more likely to purchase from them. According to Student Beans, 83% of students are more likely to buy from brands that offer student discounts. 

It's all a marketing technique; the more discounts you get, the more of your student loan you'll spend on your social life or fashion. This doesn't mean it isn't handy! Some brands are offering some really good discounts on stuff you might actually need as a student. Such as Amazon Prime Student and Audible. Plus, brands tend to only offer these special discounts to students, so you'll make a saving no matter what. Just remember, don't go too wild. Do you really need those new jeans from ASOS?

Why do student discounts exist? 

To sum it up, you're kind of a big deal. That's right, businesses love their student consumers, and offering student discounts means you're more likely to purchase from them. According to Student Beans, 83% of students are more likely to buy from brands that offer student discounts. 

It's all a marketing technique; the more discounts you get, the more of your student loan you'll spend on your social life or fashion. This doesn't mean it isn't handy! Some brands are offering some really good discounts on stuff you might actually need as a student. Such as Amazon Prime Student and Audible. Plus, brands tend to only offer these special discounts to students, so you'll make a saving no matter what. Just remember, don't go too wild. Do you really need those new jeans from ASOS?

Top student discount sites you should browse:

  1. Unidays
    A well-loved student discount site with tonnes of shops to get % off. With the likes of Asos, Nike, and Apple, it's no wonder why it's so popular. Shopping IRL and keep forgetting your student card? No probs! Their 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 discount codes. Make sure to check this one out; there are discounts for brands you won't find on UniDays! 

  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. 

Check out UniDays, Student Beans, and Totum to see what student discounts are on offer.

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. 

Invest in a Railcard

If you're traveling by train or London tube, 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 promo codes; a member of the Fused team was able to bag one for £12!

  • Other travel savings:
    Check out sites like 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. Try out TikTok trending Big Mac Tacos. The Fused team have had a go, and the hype is real!

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! 

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 shopping 

Keep the cost of food down. Try to ditch the big-name brands and check out the supermarket's own brands. Do you really need those Kellogg's cornflakes? When doing your food shopping, 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. 

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. It can be difficult to go from having your meals cooked for you to being responsible for cooking your own food. 

Don't look at the downside; being at university is a great way 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, you can smash out those essays with ease! 

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, annoyingly, means a vicious cycle of repurchasing. The best way to tackle this is to pool together with your housemates. Everyone needs those kitchen staples—we're talking kitchen rolls, butter, milk, and tea bags. Take turns shopping for these items. Because, let's face it, who really needs 1,000 tea bags between you? When you move in, agree in the group chat what you'll be sharing so you don't have duplicates of everything. 

Get treats and save the planet!

Get cheaper food and help combat food waste at the same time! Too Good To Go offers a reduction on unsold food from your favourite restaurants, grocery stores, cafes, and shops. It's all to help put a stop to businesses binning unsold food, and you get a discount for helping the planet. Big names like Starbucks, Yo Sushi, and independents are all signed up. What you'll get is a mystery, but that's all part of the fun. All diets are considered, with some places letting you choose veggie and vegan mystery bags.

Download money-saving apps and plugins 

Check out some helpful apps and plugins to help you manage your money better. Money management is key to saving money during your time at university. It's really easy to get carried away when your student loan arrives each semester. Plum is a great app that uses smart technology to help with saving, investing, and money management. It links with all UK apps, so you can be in control of how much you're spending. 

Plugins make finding the best deals when shopping online fast and simple. No more searching "Dominoes coupon code"; it'll automatically search for the best coupons on any website. Honey is the top-rated coupon extension that can find coupon codes across more than 33,000 sites. It's so easy to use.

  1. Download it to your computer for free

  2. Shop like normal, and they'll automatically search for coupons 

  3. They will then apply the coupon that gives you the biggest savings

Research student bank accounts and their offers 

When securing 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 or taking out money easy. 

Almost all UK bank accounts offer special goodies when you open an account. From free 0% interest overdraft fees, free railcards, and even cash rewards! Opening a student bank account is simple. All you'll need to do is have proof of your university acceptance letter, and proof of identity, such as a passport, driver's licence, birth certificate, or UCAS code. 

With many different banks offering deals, make sure to research which you think you'll benefit from the most. Just check out some of the top student deals banks are offering this year:

  • Natwest and Royal Bank of Scotland 
    0% overdraft, £100 cash, and a free Tastecard. 

  • Santander
    0% overdraft and a free 4-year 16–25 railcard. 

  • HSBC 
    0% overdraft, £100 cash, and a one-year subscription to Headspace. 

You can compare student accounts by checking out MoneySavingExpert.

Use an overdraft responsibly. 

Shop and get cash back 

You can earn money back every time you shop online! Some brands will actually pay 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. Yep, it really is that easy. 

Here are some of the best and easiest ways to earn cashback: 

1. Use a cashback site 

Start the  habit of purchasing through a cashback site. You could earn a fair bit over time. There are no hidden costs for cashback sites, either; they're totally free to use! Getting started is super simple: 

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, and it will take you to the brand's homepage. 

4. Then all you need to do is purchase as usual. Your cashback site will automatically track the link, so it knows you made the purchase through them. 

5. That's it! They'll register your cashback and watch your pot grow. FYI, your cashback may 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. 

Here’s a nifty link for the best bank accounts that offer cash back

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 (these were all accurate at the time of writing this blog at the end of July 2023)

  • Asos: up to 6.5% cashback 

  • Deliveroo: up to 5.5% cashback 

  • Amazon: up to 2.5% cashback 

  • up to 4% cashback 

  • Nike: up to 12% cashback 

  • O2 mobile: £100 cashback

Easy ways to make extra money for students

There are loads of ways to make extra cash, from referring friends to doing online surveys or even becoming a mystery shopper. 

It might just be a few quid here and there, but it all adds up soon. Here’s a bunch of ways you can make extra cash with minimal effort. 

Refer a friend to your faves

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! 

Let's take a look at some of the best referral schemes that are out there:

  • Monzo
    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
    Did you know you can earn serious cash by referring friends to Fused? Here's how it works:

    • £25 if you refer 1 person (i.e. you’ll be sharing £50 between you).

    • £35 if you refer 2 people (i.e. sharing £60)

    • £55 if you refer 3 people (i.e. sharing £80)

    • £125 if you refer 4 people (i.e. sharing £150)

    • £175 if you refer 5 people (i.e. sharing £200)

    • £175 for every person thereafter too (i.e. for the 6th person, you’ll get another £175 etc)

  • Head to your Fused 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 home! 

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. 

Here's a list of some of the top-rated survey sites: 

  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).

Heading to do some shopping in the centre? 

Then BeMyEye might be the thing for you! It offers cash rewards for completing missions inside shops. You can complete many different missions, each varying in how much they'll pay you. 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 (they have Google Maps, so you can find it easily) You'll be given a specific time to complete the task you've booked. 

  3. You'll then complete the task within the app. There's a step-by-step guide, making it super easy to follow. When you've completed the mission, hit the "Finish mission" button. 

  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 great for the planet, 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, new 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. This auction website is a great place to 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. 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.

Money-saving uni hacks 

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

 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; the Fused team use things 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 your credit score, which you'll really need in the future.

Ask for help

Another simple way is to have someone back home manage your finances, 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 send 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 for an emergency. 

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. Your credit rating affects what you’re allowed to borrow, and using a credit card sensibly can build your credit rating. 

  • It's important that you pay off the bill in full every month, or you'll have to pay interest. It's really easy to get carried away with a credit card, so if you find yourself struggling with money management, it's best to avoid getting a credit card. 

  • Some credit cards have high-interest rates (unless you have 0% for a fixed period), which can be higher than other forms of borrowing. 

  • A debt spiral can be common with credit cards; miss just one payment, and your interest rates will soon start to add up. 

    • 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 everything money-related. This can impact 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: