This is a pretty big challenge. You want to have fun and socialize with friends at Uni, but as the weeks go by, the costs of taxis, drinks and eating out definitely starts to mount up. No one likes that all too familiar feeling when you go to the nearest cashpoint after a few nights out, only to discover that your bank balance has hit rock bottom. With Christmas just around the corner, you’ll want to have some money saved up to buy presents too.
So how do you socialize without blowing your budget? Here’s a few tips…
- When you go out, use cash instead of a debit or credit card. It’s much easier to know you’ve got, say, £25 or £40 for an evening out if you can physically see how much you have left. Even using a debit card can get you into trouble, since paying with plastic is very easy and provides leeway into going just a little bit over your preset limit. Of course, house parties are cheaper than going out to a club and pre-drinking saves money as well.
- Avoid the kebab shop on the way home from a night out. Getting fast food every night will take its toll on your waistline as well as your wallet. Indulge in some cheesy chips from time to time, but returning home to some toasted pitta or a bowl of cereal will save you money in the long run.
- Find free events, get creative. If you feel like taking in a bit of culture, many of the museums in Leicestershire only charge a few pounds for admission or you can visit them for free. Check out these websites for more info:
- Take a packed lunch with you to Uni instead of picking up a meal deal at Spar or Tesco (even with a meal deal offer it’s always cheaper to make your own sandwich at home). It takes a little preparation but it’s worth it! When you’re eating out, opt for a starter instead of a main meal. Starters are always less expensive. If you can, hold back on the alcohol when out for dinner with friends. That can be as much as a third of the bill. You can also order a tap water (which is free) instead of a soda. If going out to eat is out of your budget right now, you can get coffee instead. Meals can be pricey. But, hanging out with a cup of coffee once a week is an easy, inexpensive way to reconnect with friends.
- Instead of going to the cinema, get a group of friends to bring some of their favorite DVDs to your house and have a movie night in. Stock up on popcorn, sweets and drinks, switch the lights off, and settle down with cushions and good company to spend an evening in watching some classic films. If you’re hardcore, complete a movie marathon of film trilogies.
- Take turns to host a dinner at each others houses, Come Dine with Me style. Making your own food is usually cheaper than getting a takeaway, especially if you use supermarket own brand products. Plus, this gives you a chance to show off your cooking skills.
- Host a game night. Time to break out the good old bored games like monopoly and twister. For some reason a lot of people stop playing board games when they are kids. Don’t tell me there’s anything more satisfying than collecting £200 on passing Go, or Guessing Who, or Connecting 4. Grab all your mates, get them round, play card games and have board game championships.
- Girls can have an at home spa day. Why not spend an evening sitting around in fluffy dressing gowns and face masks, painting your nails and putting the world to rights. Going to an actual spa will put you back quite a bit of dosh, but hey, buying some oils and scented candles in a 3 for 2 deal shouldn’t be too costly.
Wherever you go, remember to always ask if they have a student discount. In some places you can get a discount just by showing your DMU student ID card. If you have an NUS card, make sure to keep checking the website so you know about all the discounts and special offers you are entitled to.