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Student Budgeting

14 New Year’s resolutions to save money

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Has Christmas drained your bank balance? Or do you want to avoid last year's money troubles this time around? Detox your finances with this money makeover.

fireworks and a piggy bank

Credit (left): Chung-Yung Chiu - Flickr

Ah, Christmas. There's nothing quite like it for rinsing your finances. Once you've factored in travel home, presents and New Year plans, you'll be lucky if you can afford the train back to uni.

But, never fear. January is the perfect time to replenish your bank account and improve your spending habits.

We've put our heads together to come up with the very best money-saving tips for the New Year. Read on to discover them for yourself.

January sales are often a prime time to bag some bargains.

Best New Year's money resolutions

Here are some of the best New Year's resolutions to save money:

  1. Take the New Year money-saving challenge

    It's easy to want to save money, but actually doing it is a lot harder. Fortunately, saving challenges make the whole thing a lot easier – and, dare we say it, a little bit fun.

    Our favourite way to save in January is the 1p Saving Challenge. As the name suggests, you start by putting away a single penny. On the second day, you put away 2p, on the third day, 3p, and so on. By day 365, when you're stashing away £3.65, you'll have saved a total of £667.95 (or £671.61 by day 366 in a leap year).

    Although you can technically start the challenge at any time of the year, the fact that it takes a whole year means that it's best used as a New Year's resolution.

  2. Exchange your unwanted presents

    We're not saying that you should be ungrateful – any gift is lovely to receive. However, there's no denying that sometimes you unwrap a present and think "what am I going to do with this?".

    Start by thinking of ways to use the gift. For example, if your gran's got you a jumper you're not too keen on, you could wear it while cleaning to avoid getting bleach stains on your favourite clothes.

    If you can't find a use for your unwanted gift, you could try to sell it. We've got some guides on selling your clothes online and making the most money from eBay, but using Facebook Marketplace or selling directly to a friend can work equally well.

    Alternatively, you might be able to get a refund from the shop it was bought from. Shops don't have to take back presents if they're not faulty, but if you have a receipt (or have the nerve to ask for it from the gift-giver), they'll probably cut you some slack. Check the returns policy first and read up on your consumer rights to know if you can return something.

    Or, why not give the gift to a charity shop? Admittedly, it won't play into your money-saving New Year's resolutions, but it's an admirable thing to do and it could make someone else very happy.

  3. Start a regular budget

    Budgeting is the best way to stay on top of your finances – and what better time to start than in the new year?

    One good way to improve your budgeting is by meal prepping. To help, we've put together a meal plan which could cut down the cost of your meals and snacks to just under £3.50 per day!

    And our guide to budgeting as a student has everything you need to know about starting your very own budget. It even includes a pre-made budgeting spreadsheet. Just put in your numbers, and we'll do the calculations for you.

    If you want to avoid Excel, why not join an app-based bank? These aren't technically prepaid cards, but there's nothing to stop you from using them this way. In other words, you can transfer a set amount of cash to the account every week/month and use that as your budgeted amount of spending money.

    The beauty of using an app-based bank account for this, as opposed to a standard bank account or prepaid card, is that these newer banks typically have more advanced budgeting software built into their apps.

    With pretty colours and intuitive functionality, this is as close to fun (and certainly as easy) as budgeting gets.

  4. Put your Student Loan in a savings account

    With the Maintenance Loan payment date just around the corner, you should get on the case to make it last.

    If you have other income to get by on, put your loan in a high-interest savings account or tax-free ISA to earn extra interest. Or, try automatic savings bots (many of which you can also make manual deposits into).

    Of course, the longer you can leave your money untouched, the more you can earn. It's a great way to kickstart your holiday fund.

    Capitalise on any spare cash you get, not just your Student Finance. If you turn a profit from unwanted presents, use that to boost your savings fund. And if you can't stretch to putting your whole loan away, creating a budget can help you find some pennies to save.

  5. Get cheap insurance for your new gadgets

    If Santa left top-end gadgets under your tree, make sure you keep them safe. Check what your contents insurance covers and, crucially, when it will and won't pay out.

    If your new toys aren't covered for loss, theft or accidental damage (in and out of the house), you may need extra protection. However, you can take phone shop insurance with a pinch of salt.

    You can get cheap mobile insurance with a third-party provider, such as Protect Your Bubble, or you might even have it included with your bank account. Ultimately, insurance sold by phone shops should be avoided, as it tends to be massively overpriced.

  6. Save money on bills in the January sales

    lightbulb with white lines around it to suggest it's shining

    Credit: HAKINMHAN – Shutterstock

    It's not just your standard retailers who cut prices at the start of the year – you can also pick up some incredible deals on your bills in the January sales!

    Broadband deals are some of the obvious ones, but don't fret if your contract's not up for renewal yet. Providers are keen to get as many customers on board as possible (especially when it means stealing them from competitors). So, if you find a good deal, ask providers if they'll buy out your existing contract.

    The same goes for mobile phone contracts. Although your contract's end date might still be a way off, there's no harm in ringing the new network and asking them to buy you out of your existing contract.

    Regardless of the bill in question, if the new provider isn't willing to buy you out of your existing contract, speak to your current network to see if you can get a cheaper deal.

    All you need to do is ring them up and let them know about the amazing deal you've seen and how you're considering leaving. They'll probably try to keep you on board.

    Worried that you won't be able to persuade a company to give you what you want? Our guide to haggling is here to help.

  7. Start planning your holidays

    The back-to-uni blues can hit hard, so why not give yourself something to look forward to? Whether it's a cheap holiday or a music festival, start saving now.

    Remember that if you save consistently, you can get away with squirrelling away less cash in each deposit into your savings account. This should mean you don't feel the hit as hard, and won't miss the extra cash as much.

    And just because it's January, that doesn't mean it's too soon to start looking for cheap travel deals, either. The best ones sell out first, so if you're sure you've found a bargain, don't let it slip.

    When planning a trip, make sure you budget for the right travel insurance.
  8. Book ahead for travel

    Conveniently (for your wallet) the Easter break is well-timed for the cheapest rail and coach fares if you book now.

    While you're at it, work out whether season tickets, bus passes or a three-year railcard will save you money in the long run. If so, whichever one you plan to go for, grab it now!

  9. Have a clearout and sell unused belongings

    The new year is the perfect time to find things you no longer wear or use and sell them. You'll be able to declutter your room and earn a nice income from it.

    To get as much cash for your old things as possible, check out our guides to selling your clothes and making money out of old CDs, DVDs and games.

    You'd be surprised how many things you're able to sell online, from wine corks to old toilet roll tubes. If you think something could be useful to someone, somewhere, stick it on eBay.

  10. Use cashback sites when you buy

    If you don't already, start using cashback sites as much as you can this year.

    Getting into the habit of using sites like TopCashback and Quidco when shopping online is a great way to save money and it's super easy to do. When shopping via these sites, you can get cashback on your purchases from some top brands, like ASOS, Amazon and H&M, to name a few.

    You can even get cashback at the supermarket – read our guide for more info.

  11. Always check for deals and discount codes

    As well as checking to see if you can get cashback on your shop, it's also worth searching for better deals elsewhere and discount codes before you make any purchases.

    If you think you could have done more to find top deals last year, now's the time to make a change. Taking a bit longer with your shopping and looking for better prices whenever possible could really help you save money this year.

    The same applies to eating out. Restaurants often have great discounts and offers which are advertised online, so have a look before going out for any meals.

    To keep up with the best bargains, you can bookmark our deals page, join our Facebook group and sign up for our weekly newsletter.

  12. Start a side hustle

    Saving money is great, but you can also add to your bank balance by earning additional income from a side hustle.

    From starting a blog to pet sitting, there are countless ways to earn some extra money.

    Check out these small business ideas you can start at university or passive income ideas. The options are endless.

  13. Stop smoking

    Combine your health and wealth resolutions by throwing out your cigarettes.

    You'll already be aware of the health benefits of kicking the habit, but you'll be surprised at how much money it saves too. Just imagine the things you could spend it on instead.

    We have tips on how to stop smoking for some extra help.

  14. Find out if you're eligible for extra financial support

    If you're worried about making your money last throughout the next term, see if you're eligible for extra financial support.

    Start by checking with your uni's financial advisor to find out what cash is going locally.

    You could also have a look at to see if there are any benefits or charity grants you're entitled to. You'd be surprised what unusual scholarships and funds you could be eligible for!

    Of course, failing that, there are the less exciting (but just as financially lucrative) regular grants, bursaries and scholarships which are worth looking into as well.

To start the new year on the right foot, check out our top money-saving tips.

Tom Allingham

WRITTEN BY Tom Allingham

Tom joined Save the Student in 2017, initially heading up the editorial team before becoming Communications Director. He has appeared as a Student Finance expert on a range of TV and radio stations including the BBC, ITV and Sky, sharing his top tips for saving money and cutting student bills.
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