15 ways to save money as a Fresher in Bristol

It’s the age-old scenario: two weeks into term, you check your bank balance, and the number is one you’d rather not admit to your dog, let alone your parents. One too many takeaways and flat drinks that somehow got night-out-level spendy, and you realise you’d better say hello to baked beans and pot noodles for the foreseeable. But, before you let that scenario become your reality this year, let’s give you some life hacks on how to save money as a Fresher in Bristol.

It’s the age-old scenario: two weeks into term, you check your bank balance, and the number is one you’d rather not admit to your dog, let alone your parents. One too many takeaways and flat drinks that somehow got night-out-level spendy, and you realise you’d better say hello to baked beans and pot noodles for the foreseeable. But, before you let that scenario become your reality this year, let’s give you some life hacks on how to save money as a Fresher in Bristol:

Set yourself a budget 

Incredibly adult and incredibly boring to do, but an easy hack most of us forget. The second your student loan arrives, take off the amount you’ll be paying for rent and utilities for the term, then take off how much your food shop costs… Next, decide how much money you’d like to put away and save, then divide the rest by however many weeks you’re in Bristol for. That’s your weekly budget – hardest part done. The next hardest part is sticking to it.

Grab your student discounts 

Have you heard of the TOTUM Card? Nope? Get hearing about it! Click here to read why they’re so great – and all about just the kind of discounts you can nab with one. If we’re talking discounts close to home, check out Visit Bristol’s list of awesome student discounts – you can make your money go further in no time.

Take advantage of the freebies 

As a student, you find yourself entitled to lots and lots of freebies. Whether it’s by signing up to our Freshers’ Fair, attending one of the virtual or in-person events The Students’ Union holds throughout the year, or seeing what free software you’re entitled to as a student – such as the entirety of Microsoft Office, hello – take advantage.

Don't get carried away on the sports club and society-front 

We get it, we offer a cracking range of sports clubs and societies – the problem most students have at UWE Bristol is having to narrow down their options! Most sports clubs and societies have minimal fees when joining, but if you join every single club you’re thinking of signing up to, the money racks up quicker than you can say: “overdraft”. So, be sure to have a good think about the ones you’re really into, and sign up to a couple!

Borrow (read: steal) some uni essentials from home 

Has your family got some spare kitchen utensils lying around? Extra bed sheets? A very expensive portable speaker? It’s time to channel your inner burglar, and grab those items for your own uni pad. It’s a non-monetary investment – and it’ll save your own dosh.

Get yourself a Monzo card 

It’ll keep track of your spendings, and will ensure you don’t go OTT. Which we’re a fan of.

Do a communal food shop 

If you’re spending on the food shop with your friends, you might just be able to cut down on the overall cost – and wastage of food, which gives you massive sustainability points. Sharing is caring – and that’s a massive win for your bank balance and the environment.

Get second-hand course books 

Not to sound dramatic here, but one of the biggest mistakes a first-year student can make is by thinking you need your entire reading list to be brand-spanking new. A pointer: second hand books are brilliant, because they help you save the pounds and they’re ensuring otherwise throwaways go to a better, much-loved home.

Get zooming (if you're not feeling the fatigue yet) 

We all know we’ve spent at least one half of our 2020 existence sat in front of Zoom, but if you can handle a few more calls over first term to your family and friends back home, it’ll save you major money on the travelling front. We’d very much advise getting back to see your family and keeping in touch when you can, but if you’re feeling a bit homesick, maybe reach for your laptop instead of a Trainline ticket every single time.

Use your overdraft as your buffer 

The dreaded overdraft. It’s a bit of a Marmite subject, this one. Some think it’s super important to have it as a safety buffer; others advise against ever setting penny into it, as it can be a slippery slope. We do understand both viewpoints – but would advise dipping into your overdraft if you really need it – it’s there for you. Play your overdraft right, and it can help you out when you really need it, such as for rent over Christmas, or for the last couple days of term if money gets tight.

Make Facebook Marketplace your internet best friend 

If you don’t know what this is, Facebook Marketplace should be your first port-of-call when kitting out your first year flat: often, people sell items for very little, or give away super useful home décor products for free. Need a bedside table? Check out Facebook Marketplace. Want some pre-loved nik naks for your room that don’t cost the earth? Facebook Marketplace it.

Take advantage of loyalty points 

Many independent Bristolian restaurants and shops have good loyalty schemes – which is great, because you’re able to help out the independents and your bank balance. Check out Wriggle if you don’t know its delights already; take full advantage of the likes of Tesco Clubcard when you do your food shop.

Get a bus pass 

First Bus offers big deals to students on one-off, weekly, monthly and yearly bus passes. One thing we all know about Bristol is who uses trains? Everyone uses the bus system, because it’s so great! With deals stretching as far as Clevedon, Portishead and Weston-Super-Mare, you can plan some cracking day trips on your passes, as well.

Get a railcard 

One of the biggest hacks for a student when it comes to saving money, railcards are a big deal. You can save up to a third on train fares, and if you live a little way from Bristol, it makes a massive difference.

Be good and pencil in no-spend days every week 

Pencilling in a day of the week where you save up your pennies and throw your wallet in a locked drawer will save a lot in the long-run. Just think of all the trips on the SS Great Britain you can save up for.

Want to find out more about life as a student at UWE Bristol? Check out our Welcome content here!