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Send My Bag

5 Oct www.sendmybag.com

You probably know all too well just how much ‘stuff’ you can take to University with you.  Most people are dropped off to Uni for the first time by their parents in a packed car that just about survives the journey from home to halls.  By the time Christmas rolls around, the amount of possessions you have seems to have miraculously doubled (it’s never just books) and you have to decide what to take home for the holidays.  January exams looming means the text books are a must, then there are the clothes, laptop, Christmas gifts…the list goes on.  You bundle it all into various suitcases and duffel bags, catch a cab to the station and somehow manage to catch the train.  Of course this is where the nightmare really begins; multiple heavy bags + train changes + delays + the odd bit of rain + cramped train carriages definitely does NOT equal a happy student.  Even worse than having to catch the train home with all that luggage is of course having to fly home.  Not uncommon now as the cost of domestic flights plummet.  However, the cheap airlines usually charge a minimum of £20 per bag with a weight limit of 20kg.  Definitely not conducive to student packing or budgets!

Sound all too familiar?

There is now another way to move your kit at the beginning or end of the semester, the year or even when you graduate!

Send My Bag costs £22 per bag or box (£19.80 when you send 3 or more bags) with 30kgs weight allowance per item.   If you hold that elusive NUS Extra card or have a UCAS application card then you qualify for further discounts when you provide your card number.   So what do you get for your money?  It is a student courier service that does all the hard work for you.  You can order delivery for just 48 hours after collection to any address in the UK.  They will accept boxes or suitcases and even sell a packing kit if you need supplies.

So who can save money?  Although designed for students, it is open to everyone; according to the FAQs, customers are even using them to move house.  For what it is, a personal courier service, it is good value.  If you are flying then it is definitely going to be cheaper than paying airline baggage costs and then having the hassle of dealing with your luggage at the airport.  If you are getting the train then it may not save you money but it will save you hassle and valuable time.

A brand new service that the company offer is the storage facility. It’s common for new graduates to have a limbo period over the summer of their graduation when they need to move out of their student digs but haven’t started at a new job.  Send My Bag offers to store the luggage you wish to send for 2 months at a meer £20 on top of the £22 you pay to send it.  It only takes a glance at some of the other storage companies out there to know that this is a competitive rate.   This could also be used by EU and International students whilst they go home for the summer as a good way of avoiding excess storage costs and is definitely easier as you don’t have to take the boxes to the storage facility yourself.

We can see the benefit for both students, young professionals and home-movers alike from both a money- and time-saving perspective.  However we haven’t been able to test any of the services ourselves yet, we would really like to review the service properly for you so hopefully we can decide on something to send to someone (apparently we aren’t allowed to send the cat) and then we’ll give you a proper consumer review!  In the meantime, let us know if you have used the service and what you thought.

Love

CSM

NUS Extra: Is it really worth it?

18 Sep

If you haven’t already heard of it, by the time your University’s Freshers’ Fayre comes around we promise you that you will have done.

Advertised as THE student discount card, it seems to be a must-have for students. The big drawback is that it costs £11. So what do you get that makes it so amazing? And most importantly of all, is it worth the money?

Like we’ve mentioned before, most University ID cards also double as student discount cards. Most also have the NUS logo on, which seems to satisfy most shops.

There is a list of ‘exclusive discounts’ on the NUS Extra website. Some of the stores mentioned, on our experience, do accept your student ID card, however there are some who do say they will only accept the NUS Extra. The deciding factor then, is how many of these exclusive discounts you really will use, and how much money that will save. It is advertised that it also acts as an ISIC (International Student Identity Card) but this actually costs you an additional £1.99 on top of the £11 card fee (if this is what you want the card for then you can get the ISIC card directly from them for £9).

From our experience we don’t use any of the retailers advertised often enough to spend money on a discount card especially for using there. Particularly as the retailers offered aren’t the cheapest in their respective markets and like previously mentioned a lot of them accept other forms of student ID.

Of course we won’t be able to make this decision for you, and you may see a discounted retailer that you spend a lot of money at, therefore £11 will soon be paid off in the savings you make. However we would suggest waiting a few weeks, seeing how many places in your University town take your regular student ID and then decide whether you think you’ll really need to spend the extra money. It may not seem like a large payment when your student loan is burning a hole through your pocket, but trust us – that money will come in useful later on down the line!

So our advice would be don’t buy it during Freshers’ week, and carefully consider whether it is going to save you any money you can’t already save with your free student ID card!

Delectable discounts: On the High Street

16 Sep

Why hello again!

Two posts in one day – aren’t you the lucky ones?

This week’s edition of Delectable Discounts is all about shopping on the high street.

Most lovely high street shops offer student discounts usually between 10 and 20%. Now there is no point in writing a definitive list of who does and doesn’t offer discounts on the high street as it is liable to change. However one of the key players who does permanently offer a student discount is the Arcadia Group (Topshop, Topman, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge, Wallis and Evans), in fact they currently have a 20% student discount offer on. They accept any student ID card as proof and off you go with a nice saving on some new clothes! Other places that offer discounts include; La Senza, Warehouse, New Look, Peacocks, Waterstones, Schuh, Miss Sixty, Staples, Game, Dune, Benetton, Milletts, Blacks annnnd Subway. This isn’t an exhaustive list but hopefully it gives you a good idea of where you can save on the high street.

We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again – If you don’t ask, you don’t get! Especially with local shops and independent stores, many of which are now flooding the high street. As well as helping the local economy, you’ll usually find great deals and better discounts as well. We’ve got into the habit of always asking if they do a student discount when we go to pay as you never know when a shop might change their mind!

Some high street shops are now switching to only offering their student discount to those students who present them with an NUS Extra card. We will cover this in an additional post it is the time of year that many students will be weighing up the pros and cons of paying the £11 for one. Keep an eye out for that in the next week!

Enjoy all that cheaper shopping!

Love

CSM

Delectable student discounts!

9 Sep

We love love LOVE saving money and the easiest way of saving money as a student is by flashing that wonderful piece of plastic.  Of course, we aren’t talking about credit cards, store cards or even loyalty cards….we are of course talking about Student ID cards.

Student ID cards are usually distributed by every University during Freshers’ Week as part of enrolment.  Ours have a lovely picture of us on (not quite that lovely as it was the morning after the night before…!), our course, a ‘Valid until:’ date, the NUS logo and clever techie bits to allow us access to libraries and our departments at University.  That’s all very nice, but the best bit is what happens when you show that card at shops nationwide (and sometimes even internationally).

‘Do you do a student discount?’ is asked at every shop, cafe and entertainment facility we go to.  A lot of the time, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes’.  More and more places are cottoning on to the fact that by offering lovely students enticing discounts, more of said students will be entering their establishment more regularly.  Hooray for us, and hooray for them.  Happy smiles all round.

This series of blog posts, hitting your computer screens every Thursday, will be highlighting key student discounts that you can get.  Some of them are permament, some are temporary.

To begin with, we’ve picked out a few that are going to help you over the next few weeks.

These are for those computer lovers among you.  Going to University is a classic time to buy a laptop or just upgrade one that you have already.  It’s an expensive thing to do, but luckily some retailers do offer great discounts if you can prove you are a student.

The big electrical stores aren’t much help when it comes to offering student discounts, however we have discovered it is always worthwhile asking even if a discount isn’t officially offered as a lot of Managers have a certain amount of discretionary discount they can use.

In our experience, we have had much better results using local and independent computer shops which have given us free software or money off the laptop itself.  Hunt around your local area, you’ll be surprised what deals you can find!  Also worth a try, is checking with your University to see if they have a computer shop or any exclusive discounts  for their students.

Our key mantra is ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get!’

Apple UK have an Educational Store which has some great offers on their products.  However you usually have to prove your eligibility by using your university email address.  If you are a fresher and haven’t yet received an official email, then it is usually the first thing the Uni sort out for you so don’t panic!

Microsoft also have a UK Educational Store which again, you have to prove your eligibility to use but it works much in the same way as the Apple Store.  You can currently get Windows 7 Professional for just £30.  Massive savings to be had there!

Dell and Sony both offer direct student deals as well.

Another tip to save money on that all important laptop is to buy refurbished models.  It’s a great way to guarantee you are getting value for money and usually find a lot of software is thrown in as well.

On the subject of software, check out OpenSource software as a great alternative to buying things like Microsoft Office.  There are hundreds of articles singing the praises of OpenSource software, so we won’t say much about it, just that it is definitely worthwhile thinking about using that instead of spending your cash on other brands.  We use OpenOffice and love it!

Right, that’s it for today.

Up tomorrow: Cheap Eats!

Love

CSM

Useful sites: Student finance at guardian.co.uk

6 Sep

The Guardian has a selection of great articles on it’s Student finance site at the moment.  Take a look at the link given below, the articles range from talking about budgeting through to living in shared accommodation.  Well worth a flick through and probably a good one to bookmark and come back to later as well!

Student finance | Money | guardian.co.uk.

We’ll be back tomorrow with a new article and a selection of great student discounts!

Love CSM

Introducing: Cheap Eats

3 Sep

Here at Clever Student Money we love our food.  We don’t just love food, we love cooking food.  Mainly because we’ve discovered how much cheaper it is to cook properly rather than rely on the microwave and local takeaway.

However, we also know how scary it can be trying to cook for yourself if you have never done so before.  It’s alright scraping together a meal at home when the food is in the fridge and you have a full store cupboard to raid.  Even if you are a competent cook, it’s suddenly a bit different when you have an empty fridge, just a bit of mouldy bread in the cupboard and no fresh vegetables to speak of (and no that green ‘thing’ growing in your cereal bowl definitely isn’t a fresh vegetable).

It’s hard to know where to start when it comes to stocking your cupboards and filling your fridge.  Our ‘Cheap Eats’ series is going to be a weekly blog post that aims to gently educate you in how to keep yourself happily and healthily fed at University.  It will guide you through how to stock your cupboard with the essentials, show you the best places to do your fresh produce shopping and suggest some yummy, simple and quick recipes that will keep you happy.

As we mentioned in ‘Ahh! It’s time to pack!’, there are some great student cookbooks out there.  We recommend The Virgin Student Cookbook.  It’s easy to read, full of great advice and fantastic recipes.  It even has a section devoted to hangover cures…that’s got to be a good book!

So now we have introduced this series, it is time to introduce a website that is brand new to us but already top on our list of money saving sites!

It was pointed out a few days ago by Miss Thrifty over at her blog.  We’ve had a good look at it and are very excited!  (You can see her original blog post about the site here).

The website is The  Resourceful Cook and is a great way to plan a weeks meals in just a few minutes.  You can select 1, 2 or 4-person menus and even adjust the menus according to your tastes and budgets.  There are several low-cost menus in their frugal eats menus.  The menu planner pulls out 7 recipes for dinner that week and then if you approve, creates a shopping list with a total estimated spend.

For example:

Meals for 1 Person.  Menu plan: ‘Frugal Favourites 1’.

Meals suggested:

Cottage Pie, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Sweet Chilli Chicken Kebabs, Chicken Curry, Creamy Mushroom Crumble, Cashew Curry, Sweet and Sour Pork.

Sounds yummy to us!!

It assumes you have a basic store cupboard (really basic, don’t worry!).  It quotes an estimated cost of £11per person for the weeks food, the ingredients are listed as a shopping list with the quantities required.   It also gathers all the recipes into one place as well.

It’s a great idea, and a great way to meal plan without having to sit down and work it out yourself.  We are going to trial the site and it’s recommendations to see how accurate it is with ingredient prices.  Of course, we shall report back to you all with our opinions.

From experience, once you have done a few shops and start getting your store cupboard stocked up, it becomes easy to cook from scratch with just a few fresh groceries needed to be bought.

Don’t forget to invite us to dinner when you feel ready to debut your cooking skills!

Be back here, same time next week for the next installment in Cheap Eats!

Love

CSM

A sneaky peek…

1 Sep

…into what is coming up on this blog.

Our first day has been great fun, the bank account series has generated a lot of traffic through the site with over 150 people having looked at the articles since lunchtime.

There is definitely  more of that type of useful article just around the corner.  As well as some other very exciting blog posts…

A couple of weekly series that will be starting soon include:

  • Cheap Eats – short, easy, healthy, very tasty and most definitely cheap recipes that will not only keep you full up but keep vital cash in your wallet.
  • Unmissable discounts -hand-picked student discounts and offers that are just too good to miss!
  • Student Card bonus – highlighting one or two student discounts a week that are permanently available to student ID card holders.

As well as all those fab things we bet you can’t wait to see, there will also be advice on how to make shared accommodation work for you, best travel deals, ways to help your bank balance survive Freshers Week (or Fortnight!) and snippets of what both your Student’s Union and the NUS are doing to help us save money.

We can’t wait – hope you are as excited as us!

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog in the box to the left, follow us on twitter and ‘like’ us on Facebook!

Happy  ‘Clever Student Money’ day!

The dreaded student bank account hunt: Part 2.

1 Sep

Right, time for Part 2 of the student bank account saga.

In Part 1, we talked about what banks have to offer students and now it is time to get down to the nitty gritty facts and figures.

Skip to the bottom of this post to see our round-up of the best student accounts at the moment.

So there are nine high street banks who offer student bank accounts.
These are (in alphabetical order just to be fair!):
Barclays
Co-operative
Halifax
HSBC
Lloyds TSB
Natwest
RBS
Santander
Smile

We shall briefly outline the first year overdraft limits, how much the overdraft can rise to, interest rates, what freebies are on offer and where you can find out more information. Unless otherwise stated, all of the accounts require you to be a student studying for a degree or equivalent course. Most require you to be over 18, but a couple say 17 and a half. It’s really important to check how much the bank expects you to deposit and whether they need to see proof from UCAS. All that information is easily accessible via the links provided below.

Here we go!

Barclays:
Account name: Student Additions
First year interest free overdraft limit: Initially £200, can be increased.
Maximum interest free overdraft: up to £2000
In-credit interest rate: 0% (*we keep our promises – see glossary for interest rates/AER definition).
Interest on overdrafts over the 0% limit: 8.9%
Any freebies available?: Offers with Phones 4 U.
More information please!

Co-operative:
Account name: Student Account
First year interest free overdraft limit: £1400
Maximum interest free overdraft: £2000
In-credit interest rate: 0%
Interest on overdrafts over the 0% limit: 9.9%
Any freebies available?: None
More information please!

Halifax:
Account name: Student Current Account
First year interest free overdraft limit: £500 initially, more can be requested.
Maximum interest free overdraft: £3000
In-credit interest rate: 0.1%
Interest on overdrafts over the 0% limit: 7.2%
Any freebies available?: 25% discount with the AA, 20% discount with their card care insurance scheme.
More information please!

HSBC:
Account name: Student Bank Account
First year interest free overdraft limit: £1000
Maximum interest free overdraft: £1500 for 3 year degrees, £2000 for 5 years.
In-credit interest rate: 2% on balances up to £1000 (first year only), 0% on all other balances.
Interest on overdrafts over the 0% limit: HSBC base rate plus 3%
Any freebies available?: Two years worldwide travel insurance. Free TalkTalk sim card.
More information please!

Lloyds TSB:
Account name: Student Account
First year interest free overdraft limit: £1500 tiered through first year
Maximum interest free overdraft: £2000
In-credit interest rate: 0.1%
Interest on overdrafts over the 0% limit: 8.2%
Any freebies available?: NUS extra card for 3 years, NYA membership for 3 years. 40 free music downloads plus free mini speaker.
More information please!

Natwest:
Account name: Student Account
First year interest free overdraft limit: £1000 tiered by term
Maximum interest free overdraft: £1500 for 3 year degrees, £2,000 for 5 years.
In-credit interest rate: 0.1%
Interest on overdrafts over the 0% limit: 17.81% plus £5 per unpaid item.
Any freebies available?: 5 year young person’s railcard. Student discount card. £100 off ASUS laptop.
More information please!

Royal Bank of Scotland:
Account name: Student Royalties
First year interest free overdraft limit: £1000 tiered over 3 terms.
Maximum interest free overdraft: £1500 for 3 year degrees, £2000 for 5 years.
In-credit interest rate: 0% from 22 September
Interest on overdrafts over the 0% limit: 17.81% plus £5 per unpaid item.
Any freebies available?: Scottish students: travel package including 3 year Young Person’s railcard and 4 weeks free bus travel. Student discount card and £100 off Asus laptops. English and Welsh students: Student discount card and £100 off Asus laptops.
More information please!

Santander:
Account name: Student Current Account
First year interest free overdraft limit: £1,000
Maximum interest free overdraft: £1500 for 3 year degrees, £2000 for 5 years.
In-credit interest rate: 2% on balances up to £500, no interest paid on balances above £500
Interest on overdrafts over the 0% limit: 9.9%
Any freebies available?: 3 years of insurance for customer’s laptop, mobile phones and gadgets.
More information please!

Smile:
Account name: Student Account
First year interest free overdraft limit: £1000
Maximum interest free overdraft: £2000
In-credit interest rate: 0.12%
Interest on overdrafts over the 0% limit: 15.9% plus £30 per unpaid item.
Any freebies available?: None
More information please!

Wow, so that’s a lot of information for you to digest.

We’ve had a good browse and put together a few ‘best for…’ suggestions:

Best for…students who need the overdraft:
Halifax with up to £3000 overdraft.

Best for…students who will stay ‘in the black’:
HSBC for the first year at 2% for balances up to £1000…reassess after your first year. If you don’t want to have to change, then Smile at 0.12% is the best for you.

It may be worthwhile looking at standard current accounts if you are not going to need the interest free overdrafts found on student accounts. However, be warned that if you find yourself needing an overdraft on a ‘normal’ account, that the interest rates can be very high.

Best for…freebies:
On face value – Natwest’s railcard offer is still the best (valued at £130). Many students already have these though, so consider using the discounts or insurance offered by other banks if you do.

Hopefully this blog has helped to explain a the accounts that are on offer for you.

For explanations of interest rates, AER and some of the other technical jargon – have a peek at our glossary.

Don’t forget to let us know which bank account you chose and why!

The dreaded student bank account hunt: Part 1.

1 Sep

It is that wonderful time of year again – September, University students across the country are stirring from their summer slumber and remembering where their text books are. Meanwhile, a whole bunch of fresh faced young new blood are buying saucepans and bed covers whilst Mum panics about whether they can feed themselves. Of course, whilst priorities differ between students and parents, one thing that is usually always high on both lists is a student bank account.

There are several options out there on the high street with each one having its own set of pros and cons.

We are going to introduce you to a few of them and hopefully help you work out which is the best account for you.

This is going to be a two-part blog entry so that we don’t baffle your brains too much. If you just want to know about the bank accounts then head to Part 2, where each of the 9 High Street banks that offer student accounts are profiled.

Back to Part 1…

Before we dive into naming banks and talking numbers, it’s worthwhile us outlining the different features of a student bank account and how they work.

Why do banks bother with students?

Banks know a few things about students and why they are beneficial to have on the books. Students are going to gain a degree, therefore generally are going to earn more than their peers who don’t have a degree. Most people don’t like faffing about with changing bank accounts as it takes a lot of organisation and hassle. Therefore, banks know if they can hook students in early, they will probably hold on to them when that student becomes a young professional. They also know that most students will end up having some sort of overdraft that as soon as they graduate, the bank can start charging interest on. Money in their pocket!

What do the banks offer?

The first thing that you usually see when you hit a bank’s website is the freebies they are offering…this year it ranges from railcards, mobile and laptop insurance to travel insurance and ‘exclusive’ discounts. Some of these are genuinely going to be useful but it is important to look beyond these and have a proper look at the account underneath. If you look at the freebies as a way to discern between two similar accounts, then you will probably get a better deal than just jumping at the first offer that seems attractive.

Probably the most important feature of a student bank account is the overdraft. Nine high street banks offer student accounts with an interest-free overdraft which has a variable limit (usually dependent on your year of study but may also depend on a credit check).

The amount of overdrafts offered vary from £500 in your first year through to £3000 in your final year. Check out part 2 to see what is offered bank to bank.

If you are the rare breed of student that is mostly or always going to be in the black, then it is worth looking at the interest offered on your positive balance. Again, varying from bank to bank and profiled in Part 2.

Of course, this isn’t just for new students, it can be beneficial for existing students to switch too. Talk to your bank, they are surprisingly helpful and many even offer free financial advice for students.

It needn’t be as scary as it seems!

Part 2 of this blog is coming up…exactly what do the banks offer?

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