This content originally appeared in the MSE weekly email on 23 September 2015.
- Make the most of student life, apprenticeships or a first job
- Free Microsoft Office, 50% off Spotify, £1.50 travel across the UK
- Get paid to drink sensibly, reclaim tax, make money online
This is my equivalent of the Young Person's Railcard – it gives discounts to those 25 or under or students of any age. And with millions heading off to uni I want to give you tips that do the same (eg, for an extra year of YP Railcard discounts, diarise to get the day before your 26th birthday or get a 3yr card the day before your 24th).
Of course there's the thorny issue of tuition fees and student finance too, which doesn't work like most expect – see my updated 20 Student Loan Mythbusters. Yet if you're going to uni, are in training or work, you're likely past that - but not these...
1. Get paid to drink (yes, really). If you're 18 or 19 get up to £20 per outing to be a pub mystery shopper, but don't worry, it's responsible – you're checking if pubs, clubs and even bingo halls serve alcohol with no ID. Pls be Drinkaware.
2. Free Microsoft Office software. If you've a student or uni email address you may be able to get it at no cost – see Free Microsoft Office.
3. Build a credit history. Credit scoring's about predicting future behaviour based on your past. If you've had no past credit this is a cause of rejection in itself. So, paradoxically, you need credit to get credit.
Please don't think I'm encouraging you to borrow. Credit scoring affects far more than debt – getting a mobile, cheap energy, car insurance. Plus the earlier you start, the better chance of getting a mortgage later. See our new 13 tips to build a credit history.
4. Student bank accounts aren't all the same – get a free 4yr railcard or genuine £2,000 0% overdraft. Beware freshers' fairs where banks may have paid for 'exclusive access' to sell their services to you.
Choosing the right account's crucial, eg, many advertise 'up to' amounts for 0% overdrafts which not everyone will get. Our Top Student Accounts 2015/16 takes you through it.
5. Not a student? Switch bank accounts for a free £125. If you take home at least £750/mth you may be able to get an account that pays you to get it including Halifax's free £125 & £5/mth if you're in credit.
For more see Top Bank Accounts to decide which is best for you.
6. Get £159 off a Mac if you're a student (or know one). This Apple trick bags students and teachers up to 15% off Macs, iPads and more. But parents or anyone who is friends with a student can get the discount.
7. Watch TV and (legally) don't pay the licence fee. Find when you should pay and when you needn't in our 20+ TV Licence Tips.
8. Students and council tax is complex. Students in all-student homes don't pay, but if you are sharing with non-students there is a charge. For how it works, what you're liable for and crucially how to split the bill, see Student Council Tax Discounts. Plus also our 54 Renting Tips guide.
9. Renters can still switch energy and save £100s. Whether you're on a prepay meter or get a bill, switching energy (same gas, same elec, same safety, only price and who bills you changes) typically saves £240+/yr. So use our Cheap Energy Club comparison now to see if you overpay.
Can renters switch? Yes. The only thing you can't do without the landlord's permission is change your meter type (ie, prepay to billed meter). Yet some landlords don't know the rules so give them our Landlord's Energy Factsheet.
10. Budgets are nonsense unless you know your income. Many parents preach the importance of budgets. While workers shouldn't spend more than they earn, no one says what students shouldn't spend more than.
So my rule is count your income as your student loan + any grant + any cash from parents + any work income and don't spend more. Note this doesn't include your 0% overdraft (that's for emergency cash flow only). To do a budget, use our Free Budget Planner.
11. Travel UK-wide for £1.50. Find which routes let you bag a bargain £1Megabus/Megatrain combo (50p fee) or if you want to let the train take the strain our Cheap Train Tickets guide includes the Tickety Split tool.
12. Bag secret scholarships and hidden grants. Amazingly many of these student-only pots of gold go unclaimed each year. Our Scholarships and Hidden Grants guide has all the tricks in the school book in it.
13. The 35 legit ways to make cash online. Sit in your digs in spare time and see what you can bring in, with our 35 Ways to Earn Cash Online.
14. You can switch student accounts and gain, even once you start uni. Banks salivate over students, in the hope if they bag you, you'll stick with them for life. Yet in some cases you shouldn't even stay with them while a student – you're usually free to move.
We say which offer existing students switch incentives in our Top Students Accounts guide.
15. Winner, winner, yellow sticker – grab 75% off supermarket food. Supermarkets heavily reduce food as it's about to hit its sell-by date, even though it's still perfectly fine to eat. So with forumites' help we've a store-by-store yellow sticker times list to grab you max discounts.
16. Furnish for FREE – TVs, toastie makers, saucepans and more. Some top-quality goodies are available daily for free from web communities such as Freegle and Freecycle.
Forumite lofty_cherrytree says: "We received a free car, a breadmaker and a Kenwood Chef mixer." For full help to make the best of it see our how to use giveaway sites tips.
17. Don't get home insurance without checking if your parents' policy covers you. You may already be covered under the 'temporarily removed from the home' section of their policy when in your student accommodation. Full info and options if not in Student Home Insurance.
18. Amazon student discounts. If you've an academic email address, you can get a free 6mth Amazon Student trial, giving unlimited free next-day delivery – plus, if you've an NUS card, 5% off most Amazon products.
19. You can earn £10,600 a year without tax – reclaim it if you've paid. Students are taxed like anyone else. In other words you have a personal allowance of £10,600 which you can earn before any income tax is taken. Yet if you've summer or temp work you'll be taxed as if you'd earn that rate all year. See how to reclaim tax and the income tax calculator.
20. Get 50% off ad-free Spotify. Obviously the cheapest way is get it free and listen to the ads, but if you do pay, students can get 50% off Spotify Premium.
21. Ask for student discounts, even if they're not offered. Many bars, shops and restaurants scream student discounts you can't miss. Others are less obvious, so always ask – it's just a form of haggling. And while we're at it see 20+ High St Haggle Tips and Haggle with Sky, BT etc for more cost-cutting.
22. Look for quirky jobs, eg, taking notes for others in lectures. MSE Megan F was employed by student services to take notes for someone with a broken arm. One of the MSE team, who shall remain nameless (OK, it's Two-headed Jane) even agreed to be experimented on for cash. See Quirky Campus Jobs.
23.Declutter for extra cash – sell unwanted CDs, games, mobiles etc. One's trash is another's treasure. Many of your childhood items may be piled up at home – use 'em to bag extra cash. See 42 eBay Selling Tips.
24. A YEAR'S 2for1 cinema by manipulating Meerkat Movies. The Meerkat Movies trick shows how to get a year's 2for1 pass for a few quid. Darcy tweeted: "Loving Meerkat Movies - £27 saved over three weeks."
25. Free gym classes and passes. If you've trainers, pounding the pavements costs nothing. But if that's not your thing, there's no need to tie in to unbreakable contracts. See Cheap Gym Memberships.