It's important to know how to manage your money as a student, otherwise it might not last you through term time (and don't forget the holidays in between). But you also don't want to spend your whole time cooped up in your student accommodation to avoid spending anything. We've pulled together the ultimate guide to living your best student life on a budget, including handy budgeting tips and recommendations for cheap days and nights out.
STUDENT BUDGETING TIPS
While eating nothing but baked beans for the last two weeks of term might be a rite of passage for some students, we're sure you'd prefer to avoid it. So here's our top 5 tips for helping your student loan go further:
💳 Switch bank accounts
It’s always worth keeping an eye out for any deals or incentives being offered by other banks. Some banks will offer better deals on overdrafts and interest rates for students, and others will even give you a cash incentive to switch - we recommend doing your research to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck. Many banks also offer incentives for referring a friend, so it's worth seeing if any of your mates also want to switch.
🛍️ Keep an eye out for student discounts
Student discounts are everywhere. You should've already got a student card when you enrolled at your uni, but we'd also recommend getting a UNiDays account, which entitles you to thousands of discounts on and offline - from food and clothing to beauty products and uni essentials. Don’t be afraid to ask if a shop has a student discount when you get to the till, as even if it’s not advertised, many shops have a policy of giving 10% off for students, which makes all the difference.
🛒 Be a savvy food shopper
When it comes to your weekly shop, supermarkets are often stacked with offers and discounts that can be super handy. However, it’s worth calculating whether the offers will actually save you money, or if you’re just going to end up with 20 packs of jaffa cakes that you’ll never get through... Instead, why not buy and cook your meals in bulk so that you can freeze portions to defrost when you're a little low on cash? Or cook meals together with your friends or flatmates so that you can split the grocery costs (and cooking responsibilities). P.S... We never recommend going shopping when you’re hungry!
🚶 Travel greener
Walk and cycle where you can – it saves money, keeps you fit and reduces your carbon footprint. If your student accommodation is within walking distance of your uni, make the commitment to walk with your flatmates or join a cycle hire scheme together. Or if you need to go a little further afield, opt for public transport rather than paying for Ubers. Booking train and coach tickets further in advance will also save you a lot of money. Get yourself a 16-25 railcard for a 1/3 off and the best time to check for cheap trains is 12 weeks before you want to travel – get your Christmas trip home booked in ASAP!
👚 Swap & sell your stuff
If you've outgrown something that’s still in decent condition, why not sell it for some extra cash? Online selling platforms such as eBay, Amazon, Depop or Vinted are easy ways to make money back on your old stuff. Uni course books can be expensive, so it's worth trying to get some of your money back once you're done using them - plus you'll be helping out other students who are looking to buy cheaper, second hand copies. You can even swap second hand clothing with friends or on certain sites to keep your wardrobe fresh without having to splash out.
going out-out ON A BUDGET
Now that you've got a bit more money set aside from being a budgeting pro, you don't want to spunk it all on your next night out. Don't worry, we've got you covered... Here's our top 5 tips for living your best student life on a budget:
💃 Switch your nights out
A night out with friends at the weekend can be expensive, so we’d recommend switching to weeknights or afternoons to make the most of local happy hours. A lot of places will do a few hours of 2-for-1 or discounted drinks and many will even host dedicated student nights. As long as you’re prepared to wake up and drag yourself to your 9am lectures in the morning, the weekday is basically the new weekend!
📽️ Catch a weekday matinee
The cheapest days to go to the cinema are always Monday to Thursday – most cinemas have lower prices on these days and even better deals before 5pm. So it’s worth grabbing some popcorn and looking to see what your local cinema offers if you’ve got some spare time between lectures. Or if you fancy screening the latest Netflix release, some private student halls have free on-site cinema rooms that you can book out to watch your own movies on the big screen.
🚴♂️ Go on a bike ride
With bike-friendly roads and heaps of cycle paths across the UK, hopping on your bike is one of the best and cheapest ways to explore your uni city. Even if you don’t have your bike with you at uni, most cities have a choice of cycle hire schemes and shops to help get you out on two wheels. Get a group of you together and plan your route around the city, including some cool places to stop off along the way – lots of places will have bike racks to use while you pop in for a bite to eat.
🖼️ Visit a museum or gallery
The UK plays host to some of the world's most famous museums and galleries. With a huge variety of work from all periods and movements, there's bound to be a local few that tickle your fancy. The best thing about a lot of museums and galleries is that they're free of charge - there might just be the occasional fee for some new or featured exhibitions. We think it's the perfect way to spend a rainy day (which gives you plenty of opportunity in the UK).
🎫 Attend student events
Your uni, course and student digs will throw tonnes of events throughout the year - from nights out to cultural celebrations, and wellness sessions to development workshops. These are great ways to get to know new people and enjoy activities you might not normally partake in. These organised events will often include some form of free food and drink or you might be charged a discounted entry fee as a student. Keep an eye on your uni group chats to make sure you’re in the know for the best events to attend.
Now you've got all the tools to live your best student life on a budget! Got any other tips worth sharing or more student topics that you'd like us to cover? Let us know @canvas_studentuk.
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