So you’ve spent your student loan: How to survive at uni and still have fun

Save while you rave


Student finance may have only just dropped but after bills, nights outs and a few cheeky trips to the takeaway, there’s usually not a lot left.

However, this doesn’t need to define your university experience, nor does it mean you have to resort to Bear Grylls style survivalism and drink your own piss.

You just need to be a little smarter with your money, and there are plenty of ways a student can do this while still having fun.

Take advantage of student discounts

£12 for an NUS Card may seem steep, but this entitles you to fantastic offers (ranging from 10% off at Boohoo and the Co Op, to a whopping 49% off at Alton Towers) and lasts an entire year.

The likes of UniDays and Student Bean offer accounts for free, and these can be used for discounts at ASOS, Ask Italian, Pizza Express and Buy A Gift.

Even banks are targeting students, providing a variety of useful freebies to those opening accounts – this includes a year of prime student at Natwest, an £80 Amazon voucher at HSBC, and a four year railcard at Santander.

Try swapping train travel for bus rides

Trains are often more comfortable, and much faster than their four wheeled counterparts, but Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t wrong when he said train hikes were ‘insulting to customers’.

For example, an off peak single from Sheffield to Milton Keynes would cost £79.30 and take two hours and 55 minutes.

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Mega Bus, on the other hand, offer the same journey for a much more reasonable £13.31 and a travel time of two hours and 35 minutes.

You may have to leave at unusual hours to guarantee the best price, but if this is the difference between one and five trips home (and those subsequent roast dinners) it’s a worthy cause.

Don’t be afraid to shop locally

We’ve all been there. You’re tired, you’re on the way home, and the local Morrisons is the most convenient place to pick up dinner. But planning ahead – and adding those local markets to your walking route – can result in big savings.

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You’ll be surprised how far that crumpled up fiver will take you when you’re buying directly from the people who grow them.

There’s no need to live on oven chips and beans (although if you chose to we’d completely understand) when a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats are available for as little as one pound.

Get paid for your opinions

Focus groups and online surveys may seem the stuff of internet legend but they are a legitimate way to make real money in your spare time.

YouGov offers £50 for anyone who completes 5000 points worth of surveys and those with a little more time on their hands can turn to sites such as takepartinresearch.com who swap cash payments for group discussions.

They’re currently offering £85 for anyone who takes part in “snacking research” – not only economical but delicious.

Enjoy cheap or free entertainment

Uni run Give It A Go events which make it like 50p to do Zumba if you’re with Residence Life. Volunteer your time, free entertainment for you, and you’re helping someone else.

Most bars and nightclubs offer free entry for students. You may have to go on a specific day, or at a specific time, but £5 saved on entry could equate to £5 saved for VKs.

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And if leaving the house post 9pm isn't for you there are plenty of fun events run by the University, for the students, at a massively reduced price.

From the standard weekly Zumba, to the more obscure Horror Prosthetics Making Class, there’s something for everyone – even those with £2 left to their name.

Don’t be a hoarder

That crop top may have looked fantastic on you at the year seven disco but now you’ve entered your twenties it’s time to leave behind anything from the junior range. In fact, it’s time to leave behind anything you don’t need or use anymore and sell them online.

Sites like eBay and Depop may charge small commission fees, but every sale made puts you a pound closer to that jacket you’ve been eyeing up on Asos.

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And it’s not just clothing that can yield a small return- freecyle and makeuseof.com allow you to swap furniture and electrical items you don’t need for those you do.

So if everyone in your flat came up with a kettle and a toaster, why not try and unload them for something much cooler? Like a football table or a lava lamp.