Personally, I think that one of the hardest struggles when coming to university is attempting to budget your money. You’ve got Freshers Week, bills to pay, new clothes to buy, food to pay for and all of these new dates in the diary for dinners and drinks (that always end up turning into a night out…)

If I'm honest coming to university really helped me to budget my money and also encouraged me to make some life changes that I haven’t regretted. I wanted to share with you my tips and ideas to help make saving money that little bit easier.

  • Food is always the biggest chunk of money to come out of my bank account. In my first year of university, I lived near both a Tesco and a Morrisons supermarket – so I found I was always popping in there and spending £20 on things I didn’t need, and didn’t ever use. This year, I’ve discovered my new guilty pleasure…Aldi! My former £40 per week food shop is now just £15 as you can get some pretty good deals (if you shop in the evenings you might grab them reducing things too). There is a branch not too far from the city centre and one close to Headingley so get yourself down there! Iceland also do 10% off for students and free delivery when you spend over £30 - plus Iceland is cheap already. I know that some people find going to shops that are a bit further away an inconvenience, but if you go as a group of four, grab a taxi back because it's probably only going to cost around £1 each! This year I have also started meal planning. I do this to make sure I don’t eat unhealthily, and also to save money on food. I plan my meals out on a Monday before I go to do my Aldi shop and it means that I only buy things that I’m going to eat that week. This means that I waste hardly any food!
  • My second money saving tip is to buy your tickets for events in advance. Follow your favourite clubs and events on Facebook and Twitter, and if you turn their notifications on, you will get notified when tickets go on sale! Most clubs sell their first release tickets for £1 but after that, the prices can go up to around £10, so try to grab them quickly! Also, student nights and student cards help a lot. Walkabout on Woodhouse lane do £1 drinks on a Wednesday and if you get their saver cards which are free, some drinks are £1 all week.
  • Tip number three is, if you get the bus anywhere download the First bus ticket app! They do deals for students which work out cheaper than buying your ticket on-board which are really good if you use the bus every day.
  • Date nights and meals out with your friends can be really expensive. Make sure you always look on the Unidays website before deciding where to eat, because there are always deals such as 25% off Pizza Express and Ask Italian, and Unidays is free to sign up to. Manhatta bar and restaurant in Headingley also does 50% off food on Tuesdays. The Library bar and restaurant does great food deals, and The Dry Dock does 25p pancakes in the mornings and 25p chicken wings on certain days. Another fun date night either with your friends or partner is Hyde Park Picture house! This old cinema is perfect for any student. It shows the most recent films, and tickets are only £5! Vue cinema in The Light also does student tickets on a Mondays which are also only £5.75 with any student ID.
  • A secret gem that I’m not sure many people know about is STA travel. This summer I travelled to Rome with them and got a great deal because I’m a student. They give special prices to students and they are worth a look if you're planning a trip soon! There is a branch either in the city centre, or just by the University of Leeds.
  • If you love coffee, The Dry Dock opposite the city library has recently started a great new deal. If you go and buy a reusable coffee cup from them, you can get free coffee in the mornings. They also offer a ‘Dry Dock’ card and on Mondays they give away double points which means free drinks!
  • For all you gym lovers, many first years don’t realise that they get a free gym membership at Leeds Beckett’s gyms for the entire year. For all those who are not first years and it’s not convenient to get to the university gym, Pure Gym does 30% off gym memberships for students.
  • At the start of my course, I got given a list of all the books I would need in my three years of studying. Some textbooks can be up to £75 so I’d advise you check the library before ordering. I haven’t had to pay for one of my books because they are all in the library and I just borrow them when I need them. Most books are limited so make sure you get there as soon as you can, and if you can't, check Leeds’ city centre library which is free too.
  • Railcards will become your best-friend at while living away from home. They are around £30 for the year (look out for discount codes) and they give you a 3rd off all trains! Santander gives free railcards if you open a student bank account with them, along with amazing deals every week at places like Starbucks, Waitrose and Jack Wills. Also, always book your trains through ‘The Trainline’ website because they already discount their trains.
  • My last hack is one that I feel everyone needs to know about. Compare The Market do 2for1 cinema tickets and 241 deals at loads of Leeds’ restaurants. Thinking that you don’t have Compare The Market insurance? Well, you can buy £1 travel insurance in the UK and get all of the deals all year! Best hack ever for anyone!

Here are some additional websites you may find useful:

  • Student Beans
  • Save the student
  • Student hut

Hopefully, these tips all help my fellow students. Take them from someone who's learned the hard way!

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