University Saving Tips

Inspired by the lovely Julia over on Beesy Times, I am going to jot down some of the money saving tips that I have found useful, to get the most out of the university experience! 

Saving morning can be boring. The easiest way of saving money is, of course, to not do anything but who would want to do that? There are plenty of things that you can take advantage of when you're a student, so you may as well whilst you can! 

I am currently a student in London, so I have had to really adapt to the increase in the cost of living moving down south. So, if you're a student, or are going to be a student in London, I have a few other tips for you, too, to make a use out of. 

Travel


GET A RAILCARD. It is that simple. Oh my, I cannot express enough how much you should get a railcard and how much it will benefit you. This goes for no matter where you are in the country, it will be a benefit to you. What's even better, if you live in London, apply for an 18+ Oyster card, pair your railcard with it, and you get further savings! I think combined it's around 33% off rail fares! 


I had a railcard before I started university but when I took out my student bank account, I got a free 4-year railcard. In the time before university when I had a railcard, so this was for around five months, I saved £300+ by using a railcard! Especially with the rail fees set to increase… again… it can be very useful to get one of these! 


Food


Food shopping, A.K.A, the true form of becoming an adult. Food shopping is SO expensive and it isn't a fun thing to do when you get to the checkout and just have to internally cry at the amount of money that will be leaving your account. Depending on where you shop and where your local supermarket is, each has different schemes for their customers to try and save them money. Where I am based, my local supermarket is Tesco and if yours is too, get a clubcard! If you haven't got one already, you really should! It's a point collecting system in which once you reach a certain amount of points, you get sent money-saving vouchers for your next shop. And to go by Tesco's tagline, every little helps! 


Eating out may seem like a distant opportunity when you're trying to save money but yes, there are ways of getting around it! There are many cards that you can sign up to for one-year free membership, like Tastecard and Gourmet Society, which I am on because I get a membership for free through my workplace. These cards can either save you 25% off the total bill or offer a 2 for 1 discount. It's a great little saving for when you're out and want to treat yourself! More and more big chains are also being added to these cards as the majority of the restaurants associated with these schemes are independent ones. But on the gourmet society, for example, they have discounts for Chiquito, Strada, Bella Italia and more! 

Shopping


This section is about shopping in general. So, more towards the 'treat yo'self' shopping. One of the best things that you could invest in is an NUS card. I did so in my first year and it can be used for shopping, food and many other places. However, I didn't find myself using my NUS card that often and so, I didn't bother renewing it at the end of the year. 

Instead, I downloaded the UniDays app. This is an app purely just for university students as you have to sign up through your validated university email address to get the current student status, and it opens you up to loads of discounts! Whether it be on clothes, beauty, stationery or homeware! I have found myself using this app much more than any student discount card as sometimes, they have promotional offers where they will boost discount for certain companies. 

It seems all I keep talking about is cards but they truly are the best things! Superdrug's Health and Beauty card and Boot's Advantage cards and two big benefits. They are more cards which turn your points into money and it's a great saviour when there's something that you really want to get but you have no money. Especially when you get to the till anticipating to pay with money and the cashier turns around and says "Would you like to use your points to pay?" HECK YES, I DO! What I tend to do, especially with the Boots card, I save up all of my points and use them at Christmas on their gift sets. A very good technique that has saved me so much money! 

Aimed at the student, there are plenty of websites which collate all of the recent deals that save you money. Websites such as StudentBeans and SaveTheStudent are two that I've used quite a lot. It's another one of those things where deals will just randomly appear and you have to decide whether you actually need it or not, the biggest decision of your life! 

Books


Please, please, please do not buy your books from your university book shop. Just please don't. I remember one time when I was in a lecture, a boy turned around and said, "I finally bought the book and it cost £79.99," and I turned around and told him, "I got the same book from eBay for £5". The look on his face. Please don't be that guy. 

When you finally get your reading list, look online for the book. Check eBay and Amazon first, they tend to have second-hand books that are still in great condition. Also, check with your lecturer whether you can get away with getting the book that is couple of editions older. Universities tend to advise you to get the latest edition but some subject can allow you to have an earlier version but this depends on your course. 

More websites, which I have used in the past and saved a load on, is Sell Student Stuff, AbeBooks and Browns Books for Students. 

Also, don't limit yourself to hard copy versions. There may sometimes be electronic versions of the books you are looking for and if you can get away with that, then do it as it may be cheaper! 

Theatre

If you're going to become a student in London, it can be quite exciting to know that the Westend is going to be on your doorstep. Whether you enjoy a musical from time to time or love the frequent visit to watch a play, it can be incredibly expensive! However, there are some perfect schemes out there designed to bring the younger generation to the theatre without bursting their bank. 


This scheme is a god send! National Theatre has given 16-25-year-olds the opportunity to see their productions for as little as £7.50 and what's even better is that you can then bring a friend along, who is also between 16-25 years old, for just a tenner! 

Not only that, being part of this scheme also gives you savings in the NT bookshop, the cafés, on the backstage tours and even costume and props hire! 


This scheme is perfect if you're not exclusively living in London, yet it can still be used there, too! This scheme allows 16-25-year-olds access to £5 tickets to see shows in Stratford-upon-Avon or London. I have used this and I got to see the Stratford-upon-Avon's production of Hamlet, all for just £5! 


This is another scheme based in London, and it allows 14-25 year olds discounts at the Barbican. Each year, 50,000 tickets are released at £5, £10 or £15, giving you the chance to grab them for art, film, music, theatre and dance. The best thing about the Barbican is that it does offer such a range of productions, so for just a fiver, it would be worth just seeing something different! Just like the NT Entry Pass, this scheme allows you to bring a mate along with you, also aged between 14-25 years old, for the same price! 

Another way of saving money on theatre is simply doing day tickets. Obviously, this is a hit and miss and you just have to chance it. Anyway, it's a great experience! Most theatres release tickets on the day of production for around £10, so for that little price, it is always worth a try. 


Aside from the schemes, there has been a relatively new app that has taken a rising recently. TodayTix is an app that you can get on your phone and allows you to buy tickets to theatre shows for the week to come. Of course, this means that you have to be in the position to be able to do things at pretty much short notice, especially if you enter lotteries! 

TodayTix have a feature where you can be entered into a lottery for a certain show, and if you win the lottery, you then pay the price and you get to see the show! This feature, especially, is incredibly last minute as it is a lottery for a ticket for that day, so you have to be able to just get up and go if you win! Not only that, they tend to be front row seats, so they're definitely worth a try! 


Of course, these tips aren't exclusive, there are plenty of other things out there designed to help students save money. I may have also forgotten some things but there is just one thing to remember, you can do it! It may be tough at times but you will learn to make it work. If anything, the first year is just about twelve months of experimenting and you will eventually figure out how to survive. 

Good luck to anybody who is due to start university in September and I hope all goes well! 

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