Don't let travel unravel your finances!
A guide to cutting the cost of getting to and from lectures
from Money Fight Club
PLUS free travel advice download and 50% off our new book!
As student numbers increase so student accommodation can be less and less conveniently located, particularly after the first year at university, when people move out of halls and into private rented accommodation, much of it far flung as well as pricey.
So as well as figuring out if you can afford the rent and household bills it's worth researching how much it's going to cost you to get from bed to lecture. Even modest travel costs begin to mount up over a term, or academic year, particularly if your oh so cheap flat is a fair distance from cinemas, clubs and bars, as well as your seat of learning.
If you are a competent cyclist, one option is to invest in a second cycle as soon as possible (don't forget to insure it as part of your contents insurance). Also invest in a good lock and try to avoid cycling into town, deciding to have a few drinks with your mates and then leaving your cycle chained to a lamp post overnight. You might as well invest in a sign saying 'steal me'.
However you intend to get from A to B, the more time spent planning your journey (in both directions) the more likely to are to choose the right means of transport and the best fare combo.
Buses and trains
When it comes to bus fares, you can sometimes save money by checking out exactly which fare stage you board and alight from. Walking a few minutes at the start or the end of your journey can result in cheaper fares.
Try different routes. The bus that pulls up directly outside your front door may take longer or be more expensive than another less obvious route. Check out the options and fares offered by different operators. The same is true for local train fares.
Check out student fares and student travel cards for train and bus travel but do some basic calculations before investing in a season ticket. Don't believe the travel operator hype about how much you'll save. If your course and lecture timetable mean you're always travelling off peak (and not necessarily every day), a season ticket may not be the best idea. And keep in mind holidays when you might not use an annual season ticket at all.
But do investigate getting an annual rail card - it costs £30 for a 16-25 rail card and it gives a third off all off-peak rail travel for a year.
When it comes to more expensive journeys, such as trips home during the holidays, don't just compare train with coach but also the cost of different types of fares. Sometimes it can make sense to buy two single fares if only the outward or return journey needs to be in rush hour. Buying fares well in advance can also save you money but only if you’re certain your plans are not going to change.
Car or motor bike
If you have a car, motor bike or scooter, see if you can organise some form of motor pool with fellow students in your location to share the journeys and thereby cut your fuel and parking costs. Avoiding rush hour can also reduce your petrol consumption, even if that means getting to uni early and working in the library.
And as you drive around your new university town or city start to compare petrol forecourt prices. Some garages charge more than others, particularly if they're on popular routes. Try and fill up at cheaper places. While it might be tempting to wait until there is about a thimbleful of fuel in your tank before you fill up you may find you have to buy at the nearest (not necessarily the cheapest) garage.
The cost of insuring your car can be breathtaking as a young driver, particularly if previously you've been a named driver on a parent's policy or had the luxury of a better post code or off-road parking when you were living at home. Spend time on the money comparison sites to get the best deal. You can reduce the cost by limiting the number of drivers, the number of miles or increasing the excess you’re willing to pay (the amount of any claim you would pay yourself).
You may also be able to get cheaper cover by allowing your insurer to fit a 'black box', which monitors how you drive.
Money Fight Club is a new way to save money and avoid some of the scams and pitfalls. The book contains advice on everything from cutting the cost of your supermarket shop through to choosing a mobile phone and paying household bills. Money Fight Club also has a range of online free online resources at www.moneyfightclub.com. As a supporter of National Student Money Week, the publishers are also offering a free download designed to help you keep you travel costs on the rails. Download it here.
We are also offering you 50% off the RRP of their latest book "Money Fight Club: The smart way to save money one punch at a time". To redeeem this offer, please click here to be taken to the online shop, using code MFC50PB for the paperback and MFC50EB for the eBook at the checkout.