Surviving on a Student Budget

Students typically live on a tiny budget during their university lives. According to the NUS, the average cost for one year of student accommodations in England comes to a whopping £4834! That figure doesn’t leave a lot of money leftover for the essentials, like food, and for leisure. So what can you do about it?

To save money, go for own brand items in the supermarket. Own brand items are normally as good in taste but are better value, either having more quantity for the same price or being significantly cheaper. While some own brand items may not live up to your taste expectations, you’ll quickly be able to figure out which ones do and then you can continue to choose these items and save money.

To earn money at university without having a part-time job, you can complete surveys online. One of my favourite sites is Valued Opinions where you complete surveys to earn vouchers for shops such as Boots, Argos and Amazon. Another favourite is i-Say which works on the same principle as Valued Opinions but has lower cash outs, such as £5 Amazon vouchers. The best site to earn money as a student is, however, Qmee. Qmee is not only a survey site where you can cash out with no minimum straight to your PayPal account, but it’s also a browser extension where you can earn money by clicking on adverts at the side of your Google and Amazon searches. The ads are non-invasive, appearing in a sidebar, and you only need to stay for a second before hitting the back button to return to your original search. Clicking on a couple of ads before you go to Google’s normal results could earn you 10p-12p, which really adds up.

Another great way to earn money as a student or to save money while shopping is to download the app Depop. It’s like eBay but with a smaller community, and it has the handy feature that you can filter results. You can search for “dress” then filter it down by size or price (or both). There are loads of users uploading new items every day, so it’s great for adding to your wardrobe on a budget. I’ve nabbed everything from never-used makeup at a below-retail price to dresses with the tags still attached. I’ve also sold plenty of items, such as clothes I no longer wear, and made a few hundred pounds, so it’s a great way to have a clear-out.

Of course UNiDAYS is the absolute saviour for anyone on a student budget. It’s an app and a website which offers hundreds of student discounts for shops and restaurants such as New Look, Urban Decay, MyProtein, and Superdrug. There are also limited-time offer codes available on a regular basis, where discounts are increased (e.g from 10% off to 20% off) and new brands are regularly added, on a temporary or permanent basis.

Trial periods on sites such as Netflix and Now TV are a great way to get cheap entertainment as a student. Many people are afraid of making use of free trails because they’re worried they’ll forget to cancel it before their account is charged. To get around this, you could set a reminder on your phone’s calendar to alert you on the day before you’ll be charged. The Amazon Prime Student Subscription trial period has saved me a small fortune in delivery fees since I started university and the next-day delivery was a life saver when it came to making my dorm room a whole lot more bearable. Amazon Prime also provides access to movies and films. For music, both Apple Music and Spotify offer student discounts, making them a lot more affordable.

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