For many students, returning to university in September can prove quite a shock after a whole Summer of home comforts and help from Mum and Dad.
Listing site wrappler.com quizzed parents whose children were about to leave for university, asking them what items they bought and for what price. The study found that mums and dads spend an average of £1215.54 on equipping their teenagers for heading away from home on items such as a new laptop, bedding and new cookware.
So with the bank of Mum and Dad thoroughly exhausted, when the student loans come in, you’ll want to make sure you spend those precious pennies as wisely as possible before resorting to your overdraft too early in the new term. Here are some useful ways to save money early in semester one:
Food and drink
If you’re planning on getting a take-away with your new housemates, check out hungryhouse’s latest deal. They’re offering every single student in the UK 25% discount on a takeaway order. Enter your name and university email address into their Feeding Freshers Portal any time before 5th October and they will send you your discount code.
For your Fresher’s week pre-drinks, head to Tescos as they’re offering multi-packs of beer, lager and cider at 2 for £20. Sorted!
If you love student cooking, but aren’t quite ready for Great British Bake-Off yet and you fancy the chance to win £1000 worth of groceries, check out Bacofoil’s new competition.
All you have to do is upload a picture of your signature home-cooked student meal to Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #BacofoilStudentCook before 31st December to be in with a chance of attending the final cook-off and winning the grand prize. Entries will be judged by presentation skills and creativity of the dish.
Finally, check out Heinz’s new range of delicious beans and pulses. They’re different from the usual student staple of ordinary baked beans, with a variety of new flavours and chunkier textures to help make your meals more varied. But they still take minimal preparation time- great for when you’re working on a deadline. I added the Tuscan beans to a sausage hotpot and it was just what I needed after a long day studying in the confines of the cold library!
Instead of heading to your student union’s shop for overpriced stationary every time your pens run out, why not bulk-buy essential items at the start of the year? I got mega-packs of pens, tea towels, scourers and more from Viking at seriously competitive prices- and I’m stocked up and ready to go for the year ahead.
Freebies and discounts
Walking through campus during Fresher’s week can sometimes feel like an information overload. All you wanted to do was meet your friends for lunch, but instead you’re being harangued to join the choir, sign up to the Marxist society or become a student ambassador.
Not to mention the inadvertent game of dodgeball you have to play while swerving all the leaflets being thrusted in your personal space.
While I’ve politely nodded and subsequently thrown many of these leaflets into the recycling bin, some of them have been worth keeping. I’ve had vouchers for free drinks at The Library Pub, Leeds, numerous helpings of free Dominoes pizza, a buy one get one free voucher for the Hyde Park Picturehouse and 30% off my total bill at The Handmade Burger Company. So think twice before you say no to campus leaflets…
If you’re living out of town this year and are weighing up whether to pay hundreds of pounds for an annual bus pass, do some research into university bike hire. The University of Leeds offers bike rental for £35 a semester, which is practically theft when you consider that the average single bus ticket costs £2.20. Cycling to uni is a great way not only to save money, but to stay fit and active during the year.
For weekends travelling home and visiting friends at their universities, don’t forget to renew your 16-25 student railcard, which costs £30 for one year or £70 for three, giving you a third off all rail journeys in the UK.
Want to try something new to bond with your flatmates? Most universities run Give It A Go sessions for their clubs and societies, so that students can dip their toe in the water without buying full memberships. For example, why not try Vertical Fitness’s Give It A Go pole-dancing and acrobatic circus skills session, for just £2? Or try a new sport by visiting the free Korfball Give It A Go on the 15th October.
If you’d like to get out of town for a day or two, The University of Leeds also runs regular day and weekend trips around the beautiful surrounding countryside and the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and most trips are under £20. There’s no excuse not to dive in!
While many students will rely on their student cards for a 10% discount in many high street shops, it’s worth considering getting an additional NUS card for £12, as it comes with a variety of extra discounts, like 25% off at National Express and 10% off The Co-Operative Food.
Once the student loans come in and you’re raring to go on a shopping trip, consider checking out the wide variety of charity shops, thrift shops and vintage clothing shops around town. I’ve started to venture into these recently and have found some really distinctive pieces for affordable price tags.