Saving advice for students?

Hey y’all - I’m an international student who’s been in London for about 3 months now, and I’m still stumped by the fact that my monthly spending can fluctuate quite substantially, and I’m worried that I may be spending over my means on some days - which also means I’m not saving up much, if anything.

Just curious - does anyone out there have any tips on budgeting/saving, especially if you’ve been on a student budget before? I’ve decided to give Plum a go to see where it gets me, but I’m still on the lookout for general tips!

I’ll give a few based on food as thats where I made a big change and seen some nice savings

  • Plan out my meals for the week before going on my weekly supermarket shop, this doesnt mean you cant eat out just plan it in advance and stick to your plan :slight_smile: that way no money is wasted on unneccessary food.

  • Also if you make food in bulk this also saves money, what i would do is make a larger portion of pasta and then use leftovers for my lunch the next day, this can also be done with meals and then freeze them to use at a later date


Let me share some of my experience:

  • Make all money in the same account, so you can easily track your budgets
  • Put the money in the saving pot which takes one day to take out, waiting is quite important, it will help you cool down the mind
  • Round out transitions, keep the small amount in a pot, so you can spent them for drink or others
  • Use cash is a good way too.
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I think my one tip would be to watch the little spends. Can you make your own lunch instead of buying it?
At my uni sandwiches were about £3 * 5 = £15
But you could buy Ham+bread+salad for the week for £3 in total usually
so that is £12 a week saved (potentially £624 a year)

Same goes for things like coffee and drunk food.

I am not saying not to get them occasionally but to treat them as a treat rather than the norm


Obviously won’t work for this year (Or if you are only on a 1 year course)

But I imagine if you do a budget of your income vs estimated outgoings.

Rent will be by far the largest so lowering that at all will have a big impact
(Easier said than done in London)

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I thought about this for a bit, but the sheer convenience of using contactless cards has been pretty hard to overcome (especially since I come from a country where using cash is the norm and I’ve gotten used to using a cardholder instead of a fatter wallet now). And I’ve grown a bit attached to Monzo… :grimacing:

This seems to be one of those golden rules that seem applicable no matter where you go - just curious, though, did you ever find yourself stuck in the situation where your food would go bad just a few days in? I’m willing to give it a shot, but I’m just worried about how long they’ll keep while in my hall fridge.

I’m here for 3 years, so I suppose part of the spending so far has just been getting winter clothes and the like. With that being said, though, first-year students do get to live in halls where the general rent seems to be a bit lower than actual London rates. Just curious, since I’ll have to move out next year - what would you consider an acceptable weekly rent rate hereabouts?

I feel that depends on a lot of things. Depends where in London.

Closer to your uni but more expensive may actually work out cheaper once you factor in weekly tube costs.

If you only need to be in uni once a week it might be worth living a lot further out.
Or if you are needing to be in a lot then closer might work out better.

Oh yeah i dont mean literally cook all your meals for the week on the sunday like bodybuilders do. What i would have done was make pasta and that would do me for 2 days/meals, curry for 2 days/meals but never left them in the fridge for longer than maybe 3 days.

Things like curry or lasagne i would have made and then froze to defrost to have maybe the following week or week after that :blush: Its harder to stick to if it doesnt taste nice and fresh so id never have recommended cooking for a week straight up

I’m not a student but there’s a few things that have really helped me save since moving to Monzo.

  • Use pots, multiple pots are better IMO - more specific goals for saving.
  • always try to save something, even if if seems like a very minor amount. It all helps and when you need to kick it up a gear, you’ll be starting from something rather than nothing.
  • Always be aware of the “spent today” total. I was kinda shocked about how small things suddenly start to add up to a lot, and realised I had very little knowledge of what I was spending on a day to day basis before switching to Monzo.
  • I really like the “you’re set to have £XX left to spend” feature in Summary.
    I don’t set a monthly budget as I can find that kinda stressful sticking to, but instead, I like to see e.g. “you’re set to have £50 left to spend” and then challenging myself to get that figure up to e.g. £75 (and then again challenging myself once I reach that goal). I find that really helps with not spending money unnecessarily, and is more of a “fun” challenge than having a conventional budget.

Yep reducing the “little” spends has made a massive difference for me!


Which little spend has had the biggest impact on you?


Lunches (I was always buying pre-made stuff), coffee, unnessary snacks to gorge on in the evenings lol.

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I’m living in Camden and studying in the Euston area, but I’ve taken to walking just to save up more. Don’t mind the commute too much - it’s definitely a ton more pleasant than back home.

Cool! I’ll give it a shot over the next two weeks and see what happens. Updates to come…

I definitely agree - I track my spending on a separate budgeting app, but the fact that Monzo does it on its own has been of tremendous help to me. I’ll focus on cutting down on those small expenses, then!


In regards to food;

Aldi and Lidl will be your saviour for food shopping (especially fruit and veg) - although they don’t always have every product you need. I used to use them for fresh products once a week and spend about £10-15.

Bulk buying your rice, pasta, couscous (easy on the go food), tinned products, seasonings etc via click and collect (or delivery if you have the little extra) as they have a minimum of £40 but it’ll let you keep a running tab of the cost of your “cupboard essentials”. These should last you the whole term.

Also visit local pound shops (poundland, pound stretchers etc - they all have those sort of names) and bulk buy toiletries and cleaning products from here. This usually cost about £20 max per term.

Also remember, lots of places in London give you free food on your birthday (you can always lie about the date :joy:) and there’s apps like olio which give free food from people who no longer need it.

And as everyone has said, plan your meals. Overnight oats for a week can cost you pennies, homemade lunches save loads and then meals which last 2 days - meaning you only have to cook 3 times a week!

Cutting out meat can also save you loads of cash - but that’s a personal / financial choice that some people make (I saved some much :joy:). Hope this helps a bit.


Another app that might be useful is


Have to admit I haven’t heard this one before :rofl:

Only take what you think you’ll need on a night out, if you take a card it’s easy to have a few too many drinks or buy that very expensive burger. Possibly take out a pre-paid card you can’t over spend on (something like PingIt)

Get something you can throw in the microwave or eat as is when you get home from a night out.

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