Every student knows the struggle – balancing the budget with the necessities of everyday life with the necessities of student life (trendy coffee, doubles and way too many house plants.) I’ve heard rumours of students spending £20 a week at uni and I want to know if it’s possible, so I put it to the test. Armed with a militant shopping list and a lot of determination, I set out on my challenge…
However, my experiment produced minimal results. Is it really possible to spend a total of £20 a week as a uni student? The answer in short: not really. While I found everyday necessities can be kept on a tighter budget, it’s so difficult to do everything for £20. Being a uni student includes so much more than just food shopping: transport, socialising, entertainment. So, instead of carving out a military operation for spending minimal amounts at uni, I figured it’d be more useful to do a York-specialised guide to keeping weekly spending as close to £20 as possible, including all the extra bits of spending you might not immediately think of.
The cost of food shopping is probably the spending area that immediately comes to mind. So, here’s a few useful tips that can keep costs down:
- Meal plan: This will make a world of difference to your budget – think in advance about what you’d like to cook and only buy the ingredients you need. Not only will you save your cash, but you’ll significantly reduce waste. TikTok recipes to the rescue (Yes the GiGi Hadid pasta is amazing)
- Batch cook: I know binge watching The Office (team USA) is obviously the priority and whipping up beans on toast is super convenient, but never underestimate batch cooking. Dedicating a couple of hours to batch cooking meals, especially ones you can freeze, can save you so much time and money in the future – which can be spent on more important things, like Netflix marathons and house plants.
- Yellow stickers: Oh yes, the daily ritual of supermarkets which draws everyone’s eye. If you see a yellow sticker and think it could be useful, it can be a huge money saver. If it freezes, even better. Plus, anti food waste – win win.
- TooGoodToGo: Arguably the app of the year in my humble opinion. It uses your location to find all the cafes, restaurants and supermarkets in your area which has food going to waste that you can buy for a much lower price. Costa, Greggs and SPAR are all regularly available in York.
Going out-and-about is a huge aspect of uni and spending time with flatmates, coursemates and societies is so valuable. But, when you’re on a budget it’s useful to find simple ways to keep the same vibes for a lower price. Here are a few ideas on how to socialise for less:
- Free stuff in York: York has a lot to offer students looking for an affordable activity. History fans will love the City’s Roman Walls. Or, if you’re looking to spend time outdoors, Rowntree Park offers a nice picnic spot. Similarly, don’t underestimate a walk round York with friends – get familiar with the city you now live in and take time to take in the shambles, minster and river views.
- Budget friendly York activities: So, not everything comes with a price tag of £0. But, some things aren’t too far away. Hollywood Bowl offers bowling at reduced student rates, York Ghost Tours are super interesting and can be done with concession prices, and EVERYMAN cinema includes a student discount.
- Societies: York has over 200 student societies and they’re a great way to meet people. Many require a super low, or no, joining fee and often events come with no charge. You can meet tons of new people with similar interests and it’s a great way to fill out your week, often without spending a penny.
So, my £20 a week experiment flopped….
It didn’t seem realistic to spend that amount when all elements of student life are taken into account. However, it is possible to budget effectively at uni whilst achieving the student experience. Using a few tricks can save lots of money and finding all the best discounts is a must. Try your best to plan your spending effectively to give yourself the best chance of maintaining a budget. Uni life doesn’t have to break the bank, consider cheaper alternatives and handy tips to save that all-important student loan!