How to enjoy university life for less – top money saving tips –

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By the time you’ve sorted out accommodation, a student bank account and all the things you need to pack for university, you'll probably feel like your to-do list can't take anymore.

But, one thing it's essential to think about is budgeting. Yes, you’ll need to include food and bills, but you’ll also want to budget for the ‘fun’ things, such as meals out with course mates, drinks at the pub and equipment for any societies you join.

According to Save the Student’s National Student Money Survey, the average student spends £49 on nights out, £34 on takeaways and £31 on clothes per month. After paying for rent and buying groceries, going out is the next most expensive outgoing for the average student.

No-one is suggesting students should forfeit their social lives! In fact, it’s a very important part of university, and – if you budget correctly – you should have enough money to enjoy your social time. Here’s how…

Buying outfits

It may feel like going away to university requires an extensive wardrobe, with everything from leggings for the gym to a gown for uni balls.

For discounts on clothing, download the UNiDAYS app and sign up for an NUS card if your university is affiliated with it. Discounts typically range from 10-20% with retailers such as Topshop, ASOS and New Look.

Alternatively, look in charity shops! You can usually find some hidden gems at a fraction of the high-street price. Charity shops are also good for fancy dress or themed society nights when you have to find an outfit you may not wear again.

Formal events and ball season can get expensive at university. Instead of forking out for a new outfit every time, consider renting one. Hirestreet offers a range of dresses – both formal and informal – to hire, starting at £9. Moss offers tuxedo rental starting at £45.

How to enjoy university life for less - top money saving tips -

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Eating and drinking

Take advantage of the food and drink deals available to students. UNiDAYS offers discounts at chain restaurants such and so does NUS.

Food offers on UNiDAYS

If you plan to have friends over for a drink, swap branded drinks for supermarket alternatives. Aldi’s Castellore Rosé Frizzante is a canned wine that scored 70/100 in GHI taste tests and costs £1.69. Lidl’s Hortus London Dry Gin scored 77/100 and costs £15.99.

To avoid buying food and drink every time you go in to uni for lectures, take your own in from home. Lakeland offers a range of food storage containers. For reusable bottles and coffee cups, Amazon stocks a range of brands including Chilly's and CORKCICLE.

Joining societies

Paying a membership fee for the society you want to join is unavoidable. It’s not something you should feel guilty about; making time to do the things you love is important.

However, there are ways to cut costs. If you just want to join a society to meet new people – and aren’t too fussed about the activity itself – then look for societies with cheaper membership fees. These can start from as little as £5.

If you’re joining a sports society, costs for equipment can add up. Try joining relevant Facebook groups to see if any final year students have kit they’re selling for a cheaper price. Alternatively, if you don’t need specialist clothing, look for cheap sportswear in charity shops.

How to enjoy university life for less - top money saving tips -

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Getting course materials

Whilst some course materials are necessities, there are ways to avoid paying full price, or paying at all!

Make the library your first port of call for books and text books. Most universities have a wide range of digital resources, too, so you shouldn’t have to pay for specialist materials such as academic journals.

If you do want to buy your own books, look in second hand bookshops or on Amazon. See if you have a university bookshop that will buy back old textbooks or sell second hand books. Some – like Blackwell’s – will offer to buy back your old textbooks at a reduced rate and sell them on to other students at a cheaper price.

If you're looking for stationery, Paperchase, Waterstones and Ryman offer 10% student discount.

Enjoying your spare time

Although you’ll be working hard and socialising a lot, you’ll also want some down-time. Whether you choose to go to the gym, watch TV – or both – you can get all sorts of discounts on leisure time activities.

For discounted gym memberships try PureGym. It offers up to 30% off fixed memberships and 10% off monthly memberships to students. Xercise4less offers 12 month contracts for £12.99 a month if you have an NUS card.

If you prefer to spend your leisure time catching up on your favourite shows, NOW TV has regular student offers on its TV passes and Amazon Prime offers student membership for £3.99 a month. Just remember, you’ll need a TV License, as students aren’t exempt from buying one.

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