Top 7 Life Hacks for the Thrifty Student

Let’s get the obvious out the way: uni life is expensive. In fact, it can be very expensive. Between the rising tuition fees, expensive textbooks, grocery shopping, and everything else, it’s no wonder uni students are notorious for being broke. Whilst all the costs that come with higher education may seem overwhelming, there are a few things you can do to reduce spending.

We’ve put together a list of seven money-saving tips that’ll minimise your outgoings and generally help you spend your money more wisely.

  1. Load Up on Freebies

Your uni fees may include free access to gyms, student clubs, campus entertainment, and libraries, as well as free DVD rentals at these libraries. If any freebies come with your tuition, make sure you make the most of them – they could potentially save you a tonne of money in the long run.

If you’re after entertainment on the cheap, there are sure to be a few free gigs near you, covering everything from live music to carnivals and outdoor theatre. Alternatively, many museums and art galleries across the UK are free to visit, so do your research thoroughly and keep your options open when planning day-off activities.

  1. Look for Offers and Coupons

Don’t worry if you can’t get your hands on the free stuff; student discounts are everywhere and they come in various forms.

Most high-street brands like New Look, PC World, and Topshop/Topman will give you a discount if you present your student ID at checkout. You can also get discounted tickets if you go to entertainment venues like the cinemas during off-peak hours. If that’s not enough, you can pay £11 for an NUS Extra card, which will give you even more discounts at a wider variety of places.

Quick tip: You know what they say: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Indeed, not all deals are advertised on the door, so if you want the goodies, you’ll have to ask!

  1. Take Advantage of Your Birthday

Unfortunately, unless you’re the Queen (who we presume doesn’t have to worry too much about food bills), you only have one birthday – but there’s no reason why you can’t make it a total food-fest, even if it’s just for a day.

If you didn’t know, then consider this tip a prezzie from us – many restaurants offer treats to birthday boys/girls. This can be anything from a pint on the house to a discount on selected dishes. If you want to bag yourself the best birthday deals, be sure to scour all independent venues as well as your usual eatery, and start your research/requests ahead of time.

  1. Ditch Driving

With UK petrol prices set to rise, running a car has never been more expensive. Not to mention parking tickets, tow charges, and insurance, all of which soon adds up; that’s why you should ditch it to avoid future financial strain.

To help you get from home to wherever you’re studying, it’s worth investing a little money in a Railcard rather than a car because for just £30, and you’ll get discounts for travels on the rail network throughout the year. Otherwise, you can walk to campus; it’s a great way to save a few quid and get some exercise into your daily routine – no need for a gym membership! If push comes to shove, you can always carpool, as lame as it may sound.

  1. Never Pay Full Price for Anything… If You Can Help It

University reading materials are prohibitively pricey, so avoid paying full price at all costs! *Pardon the pun* Lucky for the thrifty student, Amazon Marketplace or eBay are real lifesavers when it comes to finding books for less (including postage). Similarly, you shouldn’t overlook second-hand bookshops near your campus either, because they’ll often carry items on the university reading list for a fraction of the original price.

It’s also worth finding out what textbooks are going to be required for your course. That way you can reserve them at the university library as early as possible to beat the queue, or better yet, to avoid having to buy them at all.

  1. Swap Your Clothes

Because why buy new clothes, when you can beg, borrow, and steal? Maybe not steal but definitely swap.

Here’s how a clothing swap works: everyone puts their items in a pile, and then you rummage through the pile and pick out the items you want to reclaim – it’s a real thing that thrifty people are doing at the moment. You can choose to host one yourself and invite your friends, roommates, and neighbours, or you can go to one in your community and deposit all your unwanted clothes in exchange for pre-loved items. The possibilities are endless.

On top of saving money, you’re also saving the environment by creating less waste – talk about a win-win situation.

  1. Budget, Budget, Budget!

This one’s a no-brainer but it’s really easy to get into the habit of overspending in uni. To avoid getting in any financial difficulty, you should keep track of the money you earn and all spendings you make throughout the month.

We know this may sound like a daunting task, especially if this is your first time living away from home and managing your own finances.

All you need to do is key in your incomes, including loan, grants and bursaries, wages from part-time work, savings, and money from your parents, as well as your outgoings such as rent, food, course materials, mobile phone bills, socialising, and other necessary expenses… and voila!

We Know It’s Hard

Keeping your uni spendings to a bare minimum might not be easy to begin with, but if you keep at it, we can guarantee that you’ll be doing yourself a huge favour.

Are there any money-saving tips that you swear by but we’ve missed? Give us a shout on Facebook or Twitter, or you can email us directly at info@thestudenthousingcompany.com

 

A list of the Best Apps for Students

girl on phone

It seems as though there’s an app out there for everything nowadays. From fitness to shopping, and even to finance, there’s nothing an app hasn’t covered. So, we’ve decided to give you a little helping hand when it comes to apps so that you can use them to make your time at university as easy and efficient as possible.

How does never having to worry about missing those 9am lectures (unless you want to) sound? Or saving money on your nights out? Or even the hacks to make studying a lot quicker? It sounds like every student’s dream – and it is – so let’s get started:

Apps to Help You Study

You’re at university, so of course, studying is a given. But if you’re a third-year (or a very eager Fresher) and you feel like every single one of your course units is getting on top of you, here are a few apps to get you by:

  • Office Lens

Are you ever in a class when the lecturer changes the slide before you’ve had time to take notes on all the points? It’s annoying, right? Well, not anymore – thanks to Office Lens. Gone are the quick scribbles of trying to get everything in your notepad, because Office Lens allows you to take enhanced images of whiteboards, papers, and pretty much anything you need from class.

See it as a tiny scanner in your pocket that transforms your images into readily editable documents. No more rushed typing, goodbye messy handwritten notes – Office Lens gives you digital copies of all the notes you need.

  • StudyBlue

Whether you prefer studying through flashcards, quizzes, or audio revision, StudyBlue provides all three. This app allows you to customise your own digital revision materials. Not only that, but your fellow classmates can share theirs with you too, and vice versa – if you’re feeling generous.

  • EasyBib

One of the most time-consuming and possibly the most boring part to any piece of coursework: referencing. Even the sound of the word sends shivers through the average student.  What if there was an app that could do it all for you? Oh, wait – there is. We welcome you to EasyBib.

An app that automatically creates your citations and references, and all you have to do is simply scan the book or journal’s barcode! There’s no need to worry about having to then type out all the references into your essay. Just simply export your citations to your email address, then copy and paste them into your bibliography.

Remember: always check which referencing style your university uses to make sure you use the correct format.

Saving

Budgeting is always a tough skill to master when you’re a student, and sometimes having that NUS card or UNiDAYS account just isn’t enough. It’s time to take back control of your student loans and offers, and here’s how:

  • Idealo

Whether you’re on the lookout for a new pair of trainers or you’re actually buying something for your studies, this app allows you to explore hundreds of shops. Idealo gives you the opportunity to always find the cheapest and best-priced item, so you’ll never get a bad deal. It gives you various filtering options to suit your exact needs. Even if the item you want is still a little out of your student budget price range, this clever app will give you notifications as soon as there is a price drop.

  • OnTrees

Where did all my money go? A question we all ask too often. With OnTrees, you’ll be able to track exactly where you’re spending too much – or even too little. It works with major UK banks, placing all your accounts in one place, thereby making it easier and more efficient for you to stay on top of your finances.

Smart spending just got simpler with OnTrees and its colourful charts, icons, and all the important info about your spending.

  • Big Oven

This one’s for the foodies out there. If you find yourself eating out a little too much and can see your bank account becoming increasingly lower, then Big Oven is your solution.

One of its features – Grocery List – is ideal for students in shared accommodation. You’re able to create a shared grocery list for you and your housemates to help decrease overspending on household goods. It’s also a good idea to think about bulk-buying food items together.

The main feature of this app is its tool to help you use up leftovers. If you see yourself as being a bit of a Gordon Ramsay, then this app will be right up your street. Even if you’re not confident in the kitchen, this feature allows you to type in your leftover ingredients and will show you hundreds of different recipes you can rustle up.  

Organising

  • Exam Countdown

Pretty self-explanatory, but for those students who struggle with deadlines and timekeeping, this app is perfect for you. Simply type in all your exam or coursework deadlines and create your very own countdown. You can add notes to each input, whether you want to remind yourself to revise a certain topic, or include the address of your exam – it won’t determine your exam results, but it will make sure you attend it!

  • Timetable

Most universities use the software Moodle – or something similar – to organise their students’ timetables and lesson plans, but Timetable allows you to do it yourself in a much clearer and simpler way. It’s not just for lessons either. You can use Timetable to add in any extracurricular activities such as sports society training and matches, or any university meetings.

  • Alarmy (Sleep If You Can)

Known to be one of the world’s most annoying alarm clocks, but guess what? It works. For those who have trouble getting up in the morning (most students), this app is certain to get you out of bed.

Gone are the days of just hitting snooze repeatedly. To get this alarm to stop, you have to complete a number of tasks, which in turn wake you up. The app may ask you to take a photo of a certain place in your house, ask you multiple maths problems, or even make you shake your phone 100 times. Even if you learn to hate the app, it’s guaranteed to make sure you’re up and ready for your early-morning lectures or classes.

Safety

It’s no secret that students like to have a bit of fun, but the importance of staying safe cannot be understated. Whether you’ve had a little too much to drink or you’ve got lost in the crowd, these apps help keep you and your friends safe:

  • PanicGuard

Endorsed by the National Mobile Crime Unit and backed by Crimestoppers, this app is the go-to safety app – and not just for students either. The PanicGuard app is able to track you in real time, and, even if the alarm has not been activated, it still has the technology to retrace your steps and find CCTV footage of your whereabouts. As soon as your alert is activated through the app, it automatically sends your location, the fastest route to you, and a message to your emergency contacts. It has the reputation of 24/7 personal security in your pocket.

  • SafeZone

Whether you feel uneasy on a Tinder date, or unsafe walking home, the SafeZone app connects you directly to the response team at your university. You can access safety information and tips to help you feel at ease if you’re travelling alone regularly. It is important to remember to check with your university that this app is in use within their campus areas, or you could just use the app to check directly which areas the SafeZone covers.

Partying

Where do we begin with that other side to university life? That’s right: the partying, the socialising, all right down to the hangovers. If you see yourself short of a deck of cards, need some drinking game inspiration, or simply want some cheap booze destinations – there are plenty of apps for it, and here’s just a few:

  • ‘Appy Hour

Depending on your university’s city, there are various happy hour apps that give you all the locations of current happy hour deals nearby. You’ll never have to pay full price for drinks again as you hop from happy hour to happy hour.

  • Ring of Fire

We don’t all arrive at pre-drinks or parties with a deck of cards, so this app is a must-have. With the game played through the app, we recommend having the dirty pint glass far away from the phone to help remove any possible spillage scenarios.

  • Never Have I Ever

The classic get-to-know-you game can be testing sometimes as you wrack your brain thinking of intriguing (revealing) questions. No more of that, though, and more time for drinking and secret-spilling, as the app conjures up some very interesting questions for you…

 

Hopefully – thanks to all these apps – we’ll have some ‘appy students wandering around campuses now. Make sure to get in touch with us if you find any other useful apps students can take advantage of. Message us on Facebook or tweet us @comelivewithus.

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