The student life: how to live cheaply (or for free!)

When people think of students, they often think living off beans on toast, blowing budgets, and scrambling for money to get through until the next Student Finance pay day. While this can definitely be the case, people often don’t realise the amount of stuff students can get really cheap or for free if they search hard enough.


Here’s how Jessy, first year Uni student, survives with some cash to spare…

1. Scholarships and bursaries.

Search your uni website, Scholarship Search, The Scholarship Hub, your regional Student Finance agency, Google… There are loads of funds out there for students going to uni and they can total thousands of pounds. Scholarships can be a slightly misleading term – they aren’t necessarily academic, though can be quite niche. For example, if you are a student at Pestalozzi International Village in East Sussex and are going to the University of Brighton, there’s a scholarship specifically for you!

And it’s not just term time that you could get funded, but some universities have grants for the summers too. If you plan on volunteering overseas, there may be some funding available to pay for some, if not all, of your trip.

2. Uni discount sites.

Websites like UNiDAYS and Save the Student offer loads of great discounts for shops, restaurants, entertainment and more. Yes, it takes time to search, but that two minutes can save you really significant amounts every week. Don’t forget your NUS card and young person’s railcard, that’s a whole load of discount you’d be mad to turn down.

3. Join your law society.

Sounds like a weird one, right? But, law societies, and societies for other professions, give out lots of free stuff and often free 3 course dinners, fancy afternoon teas, lunches, etc. for their members. You don’t have to be studying law to join, the only catch is you may have to pretend you’re interested in becoming a lawyer for a couple of hours…

4. Pasta.

Pasta may literally become your life source. Really cheap (get the supermarket own brand value pasta – there is literally no difference), really quick, and keeps you going. Change it up with different sauces (again, supermarket value), a guaranteed way to get you through the year.

5. Working (‘fraid so!)

Student jobs in bars, clubs, and university open days are good ways to get started. An even easier way to make some money is by becoming a Student Brand Ambassador for a company. E.g. Amazon hire student promoters – all you have to do is give out the stuff (often food) they send you to other students, promote their products around campus, and take regular pictures with some branding. A simple but a really effective way of making money.


Doing all of these things can literally save you thousands of pounds each year. Though for that to be noticeable, you have to save it! Check out the Money for Life Pennies to Pounds savings app to make sure your efforts don’t go to waste.


And if you’re thinking, ‘I’ve got this saving thing down’, then tell us about it. Drop your stories of creative saving to #HeyFresher and @MoneyforLifeUK for your chance to win £100 voucher – think about how much supermarket value pasts you could get for that!

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