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Top 7 Life Hacks for the Thrifty Student

Let’s get the obvious out the way: uni life is expensive. In fact, it can be very expensive. Between the rising tuition fees, expensive textbooks, grocery shopping, and everything else, it’s no wonder uni students are notorious for being broke. Whilst all the costs that come with higher education may seem overwhelming, there are a few things you can do to reduce spending.

We’ve put together a list of seven money-saving tips that’ll minimise your outgoings and generally help you spend your money more wisely.

1. Load Up on Freebies

Your uni fees may include free access to gyms, student clubs, campus entertainment, and libraries, as well as free DVD rentals at these libraries. If any freebies come with your tuition, make sure you make the most of them – they could potentially save you a tonne of money in the long run.

If you’re after entertainment on the cheap, there are sure to be a few free gigs near you, covering everything from live music to carnivals and outdoor theatre. Alternatively, many museums and art galleries across the UK are free to visit, so do your research thoroughly and keep your options open when planning day-off activities.

2. Look for Offers and Coupons

Don’t worry if you can’t get your hands on the free stuff; student discounts are everywhere and they come in various forms.

Most high-street brands like New Look, PC World, and Topshop/Topman will give you a discount if you present your student ID at checkout. You can also get discounted tickets if you go to entertainment venues like the cinemas during off-peak hours. If that’s not enough, you can pay £11 for an NUS Extra card, which will give you even more discounts at a wider variety of places.

Quick tip: You know what they say: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Indeed, not all deals are advertised on the door, so if you want the goodies, you’ll have to ask!

3. Take Advantage of Your Birthday

Unfortunately, unless you’re the Queen (who we presume doesn’t have to worry too much about food bills), you only have one birthday – but there’s no reason why you can’t make it a total food-fest, even if it’s just for a day.

If you didn’t know, then consider this tip a prezzie from us – many restaurants offer treats to birthday boys/girls. This can be anything from a pint on the house to a discount on selected dishes. If you want to bag yourself the best birthday deals, be sure to scour all independent venues as well as your usual eatery, and start your research/requests ahead of time.

4. Ditch Driving

With UK petrol prices set to rise, running a car has never been more expensive. Not to mention parking tickets, tow charges, and insurance, all of which soon adds up; that’s why you should ditch it to avoid future financial strain.

To help you get from home to wherever you’re studying, it’s worth investing a little money in a Railcard rather than a car because for just £30, and you’ll get discounts for travels on the rail network throughout the year. Otherwise, you can walk to campus; it’s a great way to save a few quid and get some exercise into your daily routine – no need for a gym membership! If push comes to shove, you can always carpool, as lame as it may sound.

5. Never Pay Full Price for Anything… If You Can Help It

University reading materials are prohibitively pricey, so avoid paying full price at all costs! *Pardon the pun* Lucky for the thrifty student, Amazon Marketplace or eBay are real lifesavers when it comes to finding books for less (including postage). Similarly, you shouldn’t overlook second-hand bookshops near your campus either, because they’ll often carry items on the university reading list for a fraction of the original price.

It’s also worth finding out what textbooks are going to be required for your course. That way you can reserve them at the university library as early as possible to beat the queue, or better yet, to avoid having to buy them at all.

6. Swap Your Clothes

Because why buy new clothes, when you can beg, borrow, and steal? Maybe not steal but definitely swap.

Here’s how a clothing swap works: everyone puts their items in a pile, and then you rummage through the pile and pick out the items you want to reclaim – it’s a real thing that thrifty people are doing at the moment. You can choose to host one yourself and invite your friends, roommates, and neighbours, or you can go to one in your community and deposit all your unwanted clothes in exchange for pre-loved items. The possibilities are endless.

On top of saving money, you’re also saving the environment by creating less waste – talk about a win-win situation.

7. Budget, Budget, Budget!

This one’s a no-brainer but it’s really easy to get into the habit of overspending in uni. To avoid getting in any financial difficulty, you should keep track of the money you earn and all spendings you make throughout the month.

We know this may sound like a daunting task, especially if this is your first time living away from home and managing your own finances – but there are many student budget calculators available on uni websites. To make the most of these budgeting tools, all you need to do is key in your incomes, including loan, grants and bursaries, wages from part-time work, savings, and money from your parents, as well as your outgoings such as rent, food, course materials, mobile phone bills, socialising, and other necessary expenses… and voila! It’ll tell you how much you have left for spending this month – now you have no excuse for not budgeting.

We Know It’s Hard

Keeping your uni spendings to a bare minimum might not be easy to begin with, but if you keep at it, we can guarantee that you’ll be doing yourself a huge favour.

Are there any money-saving tips that you swear by but we’ve missed? Give us a shout on Facebook or Twitter, or you can email us directly at [email protected].