The basics
Study abroad : Student Finances

How to survive university on a student budget

While university is an expensive time, there are many ways to save money without compromising on the things you love.

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The truth is, university is an expensive time. Luckily, we’ve found the best ways for you to save your pennies, while still enjoying yourself. Take advantage of huge discounts, useful apps, student cards and on-campus giveaways during your stay abroad. There are heaps of ways to have fun for free while at university, some of which you may not be aware of yet! That’s where we come in…

 

Best student-deals websites

UNidays

Save money with student discounts on your favourite brands, tech, fitness and travel. This website offers deals and discounts in several counties; Australia, New Zealand, United States, UK, Ireland, Germany and Denmark.

 

Save the Student

A popular website with heaps of discounted meals, cinema tickets, cosmetics, coffee, train tickets and free gift cards.

You might be thinking how can this all be for free? Well, while students are usually on a tight budget, brands and companies know that you don’t want to miss out on treating yourself during your studies. They get to test out their products and you can enjoy the benefits!

 

Student cards

When you start university, you should receive a student card which proves your student status. You can also apply for other discount cards which give you access to a range of deals and ways to use your money wisely while studying abroad.

 

ISIC

An international student card with 150,000 discounts on various products and experiences around the world.

 

TOTUM

Starting from GBP 12 a year, the TOTUM card, formerly known as NUS (National Union of Students), is a staple investment for any student. The TOTUM card was originally for students’ studying in the UK, but these discounts are now available world-wide following a partnership with ISIC. Now when applying for a TOTUM card, you will also receive a free 1-year ISIC card for even more savings.

 

On-campus freebies

Look out for free samples on campus, as some institutions invite different brands and companies to promote their products to students. This can be a nice treat in between lectures! Examples of giveaways include ice-cream, smoothies and slices of pizza. You can find out about promotional freebies by following your university or student societies on social media, such as Twitter, to get instant alerts about campus events. While free food is a definite bonus, some universities also hand out useful products such as free USB sticks, pens, sunglasses and phone accessories.

 

 

Essential discounts

Free 16-25 rail card

As an international student, it might be overwhelming to think about everything that needs to be sorted before you start your course. For example, securing a visa, accommodation, flight tickets and a bank account. So, make sure you know where to find the best deals before signing a contract.

When choosing a bank account, it’s best to compare interest rates and overdraft limits before opening an account. Yet, some banks offer great student incentives such as a free four-year 16-25 rail card which can be used to travel around England, Scotland and Wales while saving up to 1/3 in fares.

 

Microsoft office

All students can register to receive Microsoft Office for free. This includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, which are all useful computer programs, no matter what course you do. All you need is to enter your school/college/university email address to register.

 

Handy apps

As we all spend so much time on our phones, one of the easiest ways to access deals instantly is by downloading an app. There are many handy apps for students and we’ve selected just a few that we think could help to save you money.

 

 

Olio                                                                                                                                              One area to save money is on your food shop at university. Before you start to panic, this doesn’t have to mean eating beans for dinner every night.

 

Olio is a free app which promotes sharing food between neighbours and local shops to prevent food wastage. Protect your pennies while also helping to save the planet. All you need to do is browse the feed to see who has leftover food in your area. Or you can write a post about any food that you want to share. You might even meet new people and other students in the process.

 

Too good to go

Too good to go is another app helping to prevent food waste by sharing with people in the nearby area. Restaurants sign up to the app to share food which would otherwise be thrown away, with a 70% discount on average. A great way to eat the food you want, but for a far cheaper price.

 

Fun, free and easy activities

Now you should have an idea of where to find student deals but we can’t forget about traditional activities in cities, which are totally free.

 

Museums

You will struggle to find a major city without a museum, which means no matter where you decide to study abroad, this is one free way to spend a day. Some museums are free to access, while others offer student concessions. Remember to take your student card with you to prove that you are a student.

 

Galleries

Some galleries are completely free to encourage interest in the arts. If you want to visit a gallery which does charge, make sure you check their website to see whether they offer student prices, as this could make entry far cheaper. Galleries can also be a great way to relax and gain inspiration during your studies, by learning about the local artwork and culture.

 

 

Walking tours

Another way to explore a city for free is by walking around and sightseeing. Most cities will have important landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the London Eye and the Berlin Wall. Gain historical knowledge about your new city while getting more comfortable with the area. This could be a great activity for you and your new flatmates.

 

Parks

One way to escape the bustling city centre is to stroll around a park. Cities such as Copenhagen, Vancouver, San Francisco and Stockholm are some of the greenest cities in the world. Parks are also a great study spot, as long as you have good weather of course.

 

Outdoor swimming

During the summer, Lidos (outdoor swimming pools) are popular settings for meeting friends, swimming and enjoying the sun. Although there will usually be a charge to swim at a lido, it is generally a cheap activity.

 

Free festivals

Lots of cities host free festivals where you can taste different cuisines, browse independent clothing stalls and watch live performances. Some cities also have carnivals and street parties to brighten the streets with colourful costumes and to celebrate their cultural heritage. Be sure to check out popular events in your chosen city before you start university.

 

 

Markets

Tired of the highstreets and mainstream shopping? A fun and cheap way to shop is by browsing local markets. You can find unique gifts, crafts, clothes and food at markets in many different countries. Examples include Camden Market in London, Rialto Market in Venice and Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne.

 

Libraries

If you are a bit of a book worm, libraries are the perfect place to relax. The best news is that you can borrow books for free.

 

Hire a bike

One cheap and healthy way to get around a city is by cycling. You can hire a bike in many cities for as little as GBP 2 a day. A much cheaper option than travelling by train or car and a great way to stay fit and healthy.

 

 

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About Author

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The Content Executive for Hotcourses Abroad, Lizzie will be writing helpful articles to support you all along your study abroad journey.