Making the most of your money

Whenever you’re buying anything, it’s a good idea to see if you can get it cheaper. And since you have the internet, it’s a very easy thing to do!

Buying in store

Some things are usually cheaper on the internet, but here are some tips for saving money in shops:

The most important thing to remember is to only buy what you went in for. Often shops will try to tempt you to buy other things, but these can often be bought more cheaply elsewhere. For example, if you buy a printer from PC World they’ll try and persuade you to buy a USB cable at around £15, but these can often be picked up from the pound shop or from other stores a lot cheaper. If you’re buying anything large, then you could try haggling. Please note that this is not called “bartering”, since bartering is offering goods for other goods. I really doubt that any shop will swap a cow for any of their products, but you can try it if you must. Haggling means trying to get a discount, or trying to get them to throw things in for free. If we take the printer example again, you might try to get them to throw in the USB cable for free, or maybe aim for a price reduction.

Loyalty cards

Make sure you make the most of any loyalty schemes offered. It won’t be much of a discount, but if you spend there regularly it will add up. If it’s a one off purchase it might still be worth joining the scheme, or you could donate your points to the person behind you in the queue. Don’t be fooled though – sometimes things are still cheaper elsewhere even if they don’t offer a loyalty scheme.

Student discount

Hopefully you have some kind of student ID card. These are usually NUS cards, but since more and more unis are leaving the NUS you may just have a general university card. A lot of shops will give you NUS discount, but this may not be clearly displayed. So if you’re buying anything, it’s always a good idea to ask if they do student discount. This is usually around 10% off, but occasionally shops will offer more or less. Or again, you may get certain things for free. At McDonalds, for example, you can have a free burger or McFlurry with a value meal.


These cards cost about £3 each at the start of term, and are very good value. Offers such as cheap clothes, Subway, various drinks promos and more are inside. The cards are local to your city, and therefore give offers which you will not find anywhere else (such as buy one get one free at your local fish and chip shop, or free pizzas).

Buying online

Buying online can be cheaper than buying in store. However, you need to watch out for exorbitant postage and packing costs, and also you’ll need to be able to receive it if the item is too big to fit through your letter box. Don’t just assume that because you’re buying online it will automatically be cheaper, and remember that prices will still vary between websites.

How to easily compare prices

You could visit all the possible websites yourself, and note where items are cheaper. But visiting different sites and finding the correct item will take a lot of time, and it’s also quite boring. So why not get someone else to do it for you? No, I’m not talking about getting a friend to do it. You’d probably be very unpopular if you did. I’m referring to special websites, often called “shopbots”, that will compare prices for you. Each shopbot will compare prices with different retailers, so it’s worth trying a few to check that you really get the best price.

Books are something that every student will need to buy at one time or another whilst at university. I'd highly recommend that you take a "test drive" with any books by borrowing them from the library before making any purchases. As books can be very expensive (and heavy!) it is a good idea to shop around online and have them delivered to your doorstep. There are a number of specific book price comparison website which specialise solely in books:


Discount codes

Once you’ve decided where to buy things from, you can still try and save some money on it. I’m sure you’ve bought things online before and seen spaces at the checkout for voucher codes to go. Well, if you get one of those voucher codes, you can save money! So, how do you get a voucher code? Well, one way is to use an internet search engine such as Google and to search for “sitename code”, “sitename voucher” or “sitename discount”. You may be able to find a valid code amongst the results. Another way is to visit a dedicated website such as Hot UK Deals or Voucher Codes and see if they have a voucher code for the site you’re using. These kind of sites collect all voucher codes for you to save you having to search. However, they may not be updated regularly, so check that any code you’re about to use is still valid. Also, they may miss a few codes, so if you don’t find any you may still need to search yourself.

NUS Extra

If you have an NUS Extra card, you may be able to use this like a discount code. Some sites such as Amazon will give discounts to NUS Extra holders. But this is only open to holders of NUS Extra cards, which you usually have to pay an additional fee for. If you only have a standard NUS card you won’t be eligible for this.

Cashback Sites

You’ve probably noticed that many websites display adverts. Even TSR does, although you can subscribe to get rid of them. And the reason for these adverts is that the site with them on gets money every time someone clicks them. Well, there are some sites around, called “cashback sites” that have adverts on and you can get some of the money back. You simply visit the cashback site and click the links there. Most of the time, you will have to make a purchase on the website. So it’s a good idea to check with these cashback sites before you buy anything. However, sometimes you can earn a small amount of “free money” by just joining sites or doing web searches and things like that. There are many sites available, and some pay better than others. So it’s worth looking a few to decide which is best for you.


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