Ten tips to help you save money on study materials

Freddie Parker on 16 February 2022
A plant growing out of a pile of coins

Sometimes your studies can rack up expenses. Check out our tips for saving money on uni materials.

Only buy what’s strictly necessary

Uni departments often put out reading lists with everything you might possibly need. Many of these won’t be useful for every student. It’s worth taking time to make sure that you’re only buying resources that are relevant to your studies.

Keep an eye out

There’s always a sale somewhere. Keep a tight wishlist to be notified when items you want are going on sale. You can join mailing lists for your favourite stationers and places that sell textbooks relevant to your course. August is good for back-to-school sales, while January is the best time to find a bargain in the post-holiday sales.

Student discounts

The amount of products and services with student discounts is staggering. All it takes is a bit of digging and you’ll find loads of retailers offering a discount. An NUS card is a great investment as many in-person and online vendors accept it.

Second hand

On notice boards around campus, you might see people selling things they no longer need. Your uni might have a Facebook group for students wanting to pass on textbooks or equipment. Checking Facebook Marketplace and eBay in your area can also land you a bargain. You can then make some money back at the end of the year by selling these things.


You may be able to borrow some of the things you need for your studies. Does your friend have a camera you can borrow? The university itself may even have materials you can use, like a copy of that textbook you need. Just remember to take everything back, because those library late fees can get out of hand if you’re not careful.

Consider renting

For specialist equipment, renting is a possibility. This means you can avoid paying the full cost of expensive gear. It does limit your time with the item, but you can get everything done if you plan carefully.

Free trials

Almost every online resource comes with a free trial. There are ways to ensure you get your money’s worth out of them. Just like renting a piece of equipment, you need to time it well.

Plan when you’ll need to use that resource and do the work you need to do while the trial is live. Remember to set cancellation reminders.

Examine alternatives

While that expensive paid software may be the industry standard, you should be exploring the free alternatives during your studies. Software like GIMP, AffinityDesigner, OpenOffice, and VEED, the free video-editing site can get you through your studies without any costly subscriptions.

Sharing is caring

Your classmates will likely need some of the same things as you, so why not pool your resources? Form a small group and buy all the necessary materials to share with each other. This works especially well for group projects where you’ll be working collaboratively anyway.

Split the bill

If there is a paid software subscription you need, look into how many devices can be registered. If more than one is allowed, you can start sharing the subscriptions with friends or classmates, just as you might with a Netflix account.

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Freddie Parker
Freddie Parker on 16 February 2022