Smart Living | Digital Parenting

Digital Parenting | 26 Sep 2022

Off to university? These tech hacks will help you keep on track

Going to university can be an exciting, nerve-wracking, head-spinning experience, so make the most of these digital helpers to keep your finances in good shape and your studies manageable.

University is all about making new friends and having new experiences, but if you’re a fresher, there are some trusty tech companions from home you should bring along for the ride.

Your phone, tablet and laptop can help with more than just keeping in touch with friends and family. Used well, the apps and technology they contain can enhance myriad aspects of student life, ensuring that you budget wisely, get the best deals and are able to focus on your studies when it’s finally time to get your head down.

Here are some of the best tech tools you should try, although sadly, none of them is able to do your washing for you. Links to all of them are at the end of the page.

Best tech studying hacks

There is so much to think about when becoming a student that it can be hard to focus on why you’re at university. But some good studying apps can help to keep your mind on the task.

Barclays offers a free 12-month subscription to Perlego with its bank account. This is an online academic text library that otherwise costs £12 a month and can keep you from running to the library or running up bills on textbooks. Even with the subscription, it may save you money if it saves paying out for expensive books.

Student moneysaving site Save the Student recommends using SimpleMind, a free mind-mapping app that will help you organise thoughts on everything from your next academic assignment to your plans for half-term, and is available for Android or iOS (the free version is enough for most students).

Groceries, travel and dining out

Want to get the very most out of every pound? Joseph Seager, who runs moneysaving blog thriftychap, suggests buying gift cards through the JamDoughnut app rather than spending direct.

“Buy a gift card to use through JamDoughnut instead and you’ll get up to 20% in cash back,” he explains. For example, by buying a Costa gift card from JamDoughnut rather than buying directly with Costa, you’ll get 7% cash back to spend elsewhere.

Mr Seager also recommends the TrainSplit app, for when you fancy a trip home at the weekend.

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“It will compare your routes and fares available, getting you the best price by splitting tickets,” Mr Seager explains. “This could save you up to 90%.”

Thrifty students should use this app in conjunction with a 16-25 railcard, which gets you a third off your train fares, and is available for free for four years when you open a student bank account with Santander.

Another moneysaving tech perk is the TasteCard, available for free for four years if you open a student account with either NatWest or Royal Bank of Scotland. The TasteCard app offers two-for-one meals as well as cheap coffee at the likes of Caffe Nero.

Best banking tech tips

Taking care of pounds and pennies is definitely easier with tech help. Experts advise using the features available on banking apps to ensure you keep on top of your outgoings.

“Think about portioning off your money into different pots,” says Sam North, personal finance expert at social investing network eToro.

“You can set up direct debits to do this automatically, and it’ll mean you can clearly see which areas you’re overspending in.

“Use mobile banking or budgeting apps with spending breakdowns and smart features such as Monzo, Starling or Chip, or a good old-fashioned spreadsheet to track your spending and alert you if you need to rein it in a little,” he says.

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If you are living in shared student accommodation, Mr Seager at thriftychap recommends the Splitwise app, to help you keep track of the bills.

“It details how much you owe people and the amount that is owed to you,” he explains.

Money coach Elizabeth Buko, suggests using apps to study the cost of groceries.

“Food is one of the most important resources for any student, so being able to spot deals on food ingredients will save students tens of pounds with each shop,” she says.

“Apps like, and Comparasaurus help compare supermarket prices to give you the latest deals and discounts,” she advises.

Having Fun

Getting out and meeting people is one of the best things about being a student, and tech can help you here, too. Kevin Pratt, at Forbes Advisor UK, recommends that you look for student discounts to keep socialising costs down.

Apps such as Totum (recommended by the National Union of Students) offer nationwide deals on going out, but your university’s own app may point you towards more local offers.

“Keep your eyes peeled for any time-sensitive offers,” Mr Pratt recommends. Freshers’ week is a particularly good time to find deals, with local businesses competing to win custom.

Use tech to think local

In fact, your own university’s app may be the one of the most useful tools you have at your disposal, enabling you to book library spaces, find events and navigate your way around. You are just a few clicks away from taking advantage of everything right on your doorstep.

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Featured links






Save the Student

JamDoughnut app




TrainSplit app









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