Tag Archives: Budgeting

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.




Cheap Eats: Chilli Con Carne CSM style!

17 Sep

Evenin’ all!

It’s been a busy Friday for Clever Student Money but don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten you lovely lot!

It’s Cheap Eats time:

This week we are talking about cooking big!  One of the best ways we save both time and money is by cooking more than one portion at a time.   Sound counter productive?  Let us explain…

We think the best thing when you get home from a long day of lectures is being able to throw a meal in the microwave and have it ready in minutes, but we hate ready-meals and takeaway food with a passion.   As well as being seriously nutritionally unhealthy they aren’t a good way to keep your finances looking healthy either!  So our simple solution is tupperware…if you think that sounds like something your Mum would like then bear with us and keep reading!

All it takes is a little planning, a little time and a few single portion sized tupperware boxes!   When you are at the supermarket, a great way of saving money in the long run is by looking out for ‘family’ or ‘big value’ packs of meat.  You can also get great value by buying frozen mince in large bags.  You can then get home, cook up a storm and freeze individual portions in those notorious tupperware boxes ready for whacking in the microwave for a couple of minutes when you get peckish.   This principle works for casseroles, stews, most sauces and savoury mince.   In fact, it applies to most dishes!

Here is one of our favourite recipes that is filling, cheap and relatively quick to make.  It’s also uber healthy, low fat, low salt and high in protein!

Clever Student Money’s yummy Chilli Con Carne:


500g Beef or Lamb mince (try to pick up a lean variety), for even lower fat try Turkey mince.

2 onions

4 mushrooms

2 cloves of garlic

1 can kidney beans

2 cans of chopped tomatoes

2 beef OXO cubes

Chilli Powder (choose your heat!)

A good splash of Lea and Perrins.

Chop the onion and mushroom up, crush or chop the garlic cloves as finely as you can.

Get your wok or frying pan on the heat, you can use a drop of oil if it isn’t non-stick.

Chuck in the mince meat and sprinkle the OXO cubes over it, add a generous sprinkle of chilli powder – give it a good stir so it doesn’t stick to the bottom (nb. If it’s pre-frozen you can cook it from frozen), after a minute or so get the onions and garlic in there as well.

Once the meat has mostly browned off and the onions are softening, add the tomatoes, kidney beans and mushrooms. Keep stirring!

If it is looking a bit dry; then depending on your tastes add either another can of tomatoes or a cup of water. Both will work but it depends how rich you like your sauce!

Now is the time to add a good slug of Lea and Perrins, stir and then taste the sauce.  Need more chilli?  A little bit of sugar? Get creative!

You now want to leave the chilli to simmer for at least another 10 minutes – not boiling, just simmering.

Keep popping back to stir it and make sure the heat isn’t too high under the pan as you don’t want it to burn at the bottom.

Done?  That wasn’t that hard now was it?

Depending on your appetite this will do about 4 portions.  If it’s dinnertime then serve a portion with a Jacket Potato, Rice or Pasta and leave the rest in the pan to cool down.

If you don’t want to eat any of it straight away then you can either switch the heat off and leave the Chilli in the pan to cool down, or you can pour it into the individual plastic pots ready to go into the freezer.   You can even just pop one portion in the fridge for tomorrow!   Once the chilli has cooled down then put the lids on the tupperware tightly and stack them in the freezer.  If you haven’t got any spare tupperware then you can use freezer bags – just be sure to seal them tightly to avoid leaks!

When you are ready to enjoy your self-made ready meals then simply grab one of the pots out of the freezer and bung it in the microwave! Chuck the Chilli over some rice, pasta or a comforting jacket potato. If you have used freezer bags then you’ll need to take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge in the morning before you head out of the door.

Follow these defrosting guidelines if you’re not sure of the safest way to do it.   We don’t want any of you getting food poisoning! Always make sure the food is piping hot before you eat it.

To adapt this recipe:

Throw in a handful of frozen veg such as peas or peppers.

Take out the kidney beans and chilli to leave a basic spaghetti bolognese recipe.

Serve with Tacos, Sour cream, Guacomole and some grated cheese for a good meal to share with friends.

We hope you enjoy this yummy recipe…see you back here soon!



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!



Student Finance: BBC Radio 4 Money Box Live

16 Sep

Good morning campers!

How are we all?

We have a treat for you today, not one but two posts are coming your way!!  The usual Thursday scoop of Delectable Discounts will arrive later on this afternoon but first we have to point out a great radio programme that aired yesterday afternoon on BBC Radio 4.

Money Box Live is a phone-in programme hosted by Paul Lewis and looks at different financial issues every week.  About this time every year, they have a student finance special. Yesterday it was the hot topic and they had representatives from Student Finance England, Kingston University, Student Finance in Scotland and the NUS.

It proved to be an interesting listen, of course there were plenty of worried students and parents phoning in to talk to the SFE rep.  There was some good advice given and good points raised.

If you’ve got time over the next few days, we would recommend listening to the show.  It is available on BBC iPlayer to listen again.



Cheap Eats: Student Recipes

10 Sep

Good Morning all!

It’s Friday, which can only mean one thing – Cheap Eats time!

We have had some really positive feedback so far from students just desperate to learn how to eat cheaply but on a budget!

Today we are introducing you to another really good website to help inspire you into putting on that apron and getting stuck in.

It is called Student Recipes and has a huge selection of recipes for different tastes, budgets and occasions!

What makes this website a little bit different is that the recipes are all submitted by students so we know they are tried and tested!  It also means that it won’t cost you a  bomb to cook.  There is even a section for when you are cooking to impress…everyone knows the way to a man’s heart is his stomach.  And a hint for the boys out there…girls love a man who can cook!!

Check it out, have a practice and let us know what you think.  We are developing this section into somewhere you can come for recipes that we like to use, useful websites for inspiration and we will also be discussing food shopping over the next few weeks.

We hope that you all have a lovely weekend – why not test out one of these recipes on your parents?



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!



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!



Ahhh! It’s time to pack!

2 Sep

It’s now the 2nd of September, most Freshers are now just a few weeks away from installing themselves into their chosen Halls and preparing to hit Freshers’ week with a vengeance. But first, you have that tedious task of packing. What do you think you’ll need? And how much does it differ from what your parents think you need? No doubt the two lists differ massively, our list hopefully comes somewhere in the middle but definitely contains all the best time and money saving ideas that will keep Mum happy and gets you to University ready to party (study….we definitely mean study).

This isn’t a comprehensive list, however there are a few key items that will really save you time and money if you can get them before Uni, these are our suggestions to help you make the most out of those key first few weeks where the last thing you want to be doing is trailing around the shops trying to find a doorstop.

So first thing on the Clever Student Money list is:

A good cookery book: We recommend The Virgin Student Cookbook. It is a great book, simply written with yummy cheap recipes that are going to keep vital cash in your wallet, good food in your belly and not going to take hours of socialising (sorry, studying time) away from you. You can pick it up for less than the cost of a pizza from Amazon and although it is a few years old, we still haven’t found one that is as good fun to learn from. It also has some great cocktail recipes and hangover cures!

A Wok: One thing we learnt whilst living in Halls is that things go missing/get broken/get used by flatmates who don’t know how to wash up. So the number one rule for kitchen equipment at University is don’t spend lots of money. Our favourite (and most used) item in the kitchen was the Wok. It’s easy to throw together quick stirfrys, you can cook bolognese in it, stews and soups could all be made in it. It heats up quickly and holds a lot! We have even used it as a mixing bowl when making Birthday cakes. Ikea do one for £2.39, yes you did just read that right. It is good quality and lasts well. Definitely a must-have.

Cheap cutlery: Absolutely do not bother spending more than a few pounds on cutlery as it will go missing. It is easily thrown into bins, misplaced, borrowed and probably eaten. Our tip is to take more than one fork, knife and spoon. You can usually pick up 4 sets for a fiver from places like Ikea.

Bottle opener and Corkscrew: One way to make friends very quickly is to be the only one who remembered to bring a corkscrew. A favourite way of saving money for many students is to ‘pre-drink’, that is have a few drinks at the flat before heading out. Having a bottle opener or corkscrew on hand is essential in this situation. (Note…we do advocate sensible drinking! Honest!). Pick up one for a quid at Ikea or the Pound Shop.

Tupperware: This is our other money saving kitchen essential. It is hard to cook for one person, the best and cheapest way to cook is in batches. Make enough Spag Bol for 4 or 5 people, freeze 4 portions and eat one portion now! Tupperware come in useful for putting food in the freezer and fridge. Pick up a variety of sizes, they don’t have to be posh ones like your mum has. Just save some plastic takeaway boxes and lids, or alternatively places like a Pound Shop or Wilkinsons will have cheap options.

There are lots of other things for the kitchen that you will need to cook for yourself, we’ll mention some more vital pieces of equipment in our Cheap Eats series of blog posts that will be starting soon. Most good student cook books also have a list of items that will be useful to you.

Ikea, Wilkinsons and Pound shops are all good places to pick up cheap equipment. Whatever you do, don’t spend too much money on expensive equipment as Halls in your first year is the best place for it all to get wrecked, broken or lost!

Out of the kitchen, there are all the obvious things that you need to take and we refuse to patronise you by listing them for you (but please please don’t forget underwear!!). So what else is going to help you save time and money in those first few weeks?

Clothes Airer: You will no doubt have access to a launderette somewhere in your halls or on campus. However, the tumble dryers NEVER dry your clothes well at all. There is absolutely no point in pouring your cash (almost quite literally) down the drain by using tumble dryers for hours. We recommend picking up a clothes airer. One of those that collapse down flat and hold a lot of clothes. If only to dry smaller items such as T shirts and underwear. It will save you a lot of time waiting for your laundry, and pounds in drying costs. Don’t forget that as part of your halls fees, your heating is paid for – so whack the radiator up and get the clothes dried quickly for free!

Printer: Printing costs at University libraries are not economical, although there are upkeep costs to having a printer, it invariably will save you money in the long run. Printing at your University can be anything up from about 5p per sheet. When you have several essays that need handing in, these costs soon mount up. It is now possible to get cheap printers, ink can be refilled and reams of paper cost a few pounds. Definitely worth the initial outlay. Don’t forget that if you are Dyslexic or Dyspraxic you can get Computer equipment paid for and allowances for paper and ink to help you. Check with your university student support centre for more information.

Doorstop: Technically this isn’t money saving but we think it needed to be included! Most Halls rooms have self-closing doors which are fire doors so are usually heavy. The most sociable thing to do is to prop your door open, (yes, we know you are usually told not to…but everyone does), it will help you meet people, feel less isolated and generally have a few laughs. Usually about a £1 from a Ironmongers, Pound Shop or Market they are a good addition to your new bedroom!

Fancy dress: A bit of a silly one, but surprisingly expensive! Take any items of Fancy Dress that you own with you to University, you’ll be surprised at how many themed nights there are. Especially useful if you join societies (which we recommend!) as you’ll have lots of socials to attend. Of course there is always Primark but if you’ve got some accessories on hand, it will definitely lower the cost!

Chargers: For your laptop, phone, MP3 etc etc. This doesn’t need explaining – just don’t forget them!

Good bike lock: If you are taking your bike to University, we recommend investing in a good D-lock, they are much more sturdy than coiled locks. We also recommend keeping your bike in your halls bike sheds if this is available. Usually they are only accessible by a key and often are monitored by CCTV. Taking your bike to University saves you money on bus fares, gym fees and also keeps you on time for those early morning lectures!

Things you definitely do NOT need to take.

Stationary: Freshers’ Fayres are the best place to pick up a year’s worth of pens, pencils and paper for no cost at all! You really don’t need to waste valuable space in the car on stationary. Though we do recommend taking your A Level notes for relevant subjects. Also, a few ringbinders will help keep you organised. Most universities have student shops selling cheap stationary though, so it is probably worth while waiting until you are settled in before buying more.

Text Books for your course: the cheapest option is never the most advertised! Most courses offer bundles of books for several hundred pounds. It is really not usually necessary to buy all the recommended texts. Your University Library will have several copies that you can borrow when necessary. If you are desperate to key texts, then head to your school noticeboard to buy books from 2nd and 3rd years. Other places such as Amazon, Ebay, abebooks.co.ukjscampus.co.uksellstudentstuff.com may be able to provide cheap second-hand copies.  Alternatively, try a book-swapping website, such as Bookmooch or ReadItSwapIt for free texts.  University text books can be £70-£100 per book. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that hundreds of pounds can disappear on text books!

Car: this is highly debated but take time to carefully consider the pros and cons before taking your car with you to University. You are faced with not only insurance, upkeep and fuel costs, but also with very little parking around campus and even less in city centres. You also become the taxi for everyone in your flat – especially when it comes to supermarket shops! Think carefully, with a student rail card – getting home can be cheaper by train.

So that is the pick of the money saving items to take with you to Freshers…however we will be mentioning more things over the next few weeks.  If you have a great idea that we haven’t mentioned then let us know! Comment on this blog or email us at savvystudent@gmx.com

By the way…

If you really can’t figure out what else you need to take to University with you and need a comprehensive list (yes it includes underwear  and toothpaste)…then check out this list at The Student Room.

We love to keep our promises

2 Sep

So you can now see the Jargon Busting Glossary page up in the right hand corner.

We’re still compiling it but there are good number of horrible technical terms that have been explained for you.

Of course, if you see a word up there that isn’t explained well enough or if you can think of a word we haven’t defined then please let us know.

Meanwhile,  we promise to keep adding to it as we write more great blog entries for you to enjoy.

Don’t forget to share the love and share us with your friends – use the share options below each post, or sign up to the email subscription in the box to the right.

This afternoon a new post will be hitting your screens, all about some great tips on what to take to University with you to save those vital pennies (we all know there are better things to spend your money on during Freshers’ week than biros!).



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