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Student Life in Cambridge: A Money-Saving Guide

Andie Riches

Faculty: Science and Engineering
School: Psychology and Sport Science
Category: Student support services

22 November 2023

Being a student in Cambridge doesn't have to mean breaking the bank. With a bit of savvy and strategic planning, you can make the most of your time here without draining your finances. These are my favourite money-saving tips tailored for students in Cambridge. Keep in mind, these are my personal tips, and I encourage you to consider how they might work for you.

Budgeting Basics

Before you embark on any money-saving journey, it's crucial to understand your finances. Create a simple budget detailing your income, essential expenses (rent, groceries & utilities) and flexible spending (entertainment, eating out). To make budgeting more seamless, consider using app-based banking services such as Chase, Starling or Monzo. These platforms not only simplify expense tracking but also offer additional perks like cash-back rewards and interest. A handy strategy is to open a separate account with one of these apps, allowing you to transfer a designated sum for your monthly spending. This way, you can use that dedicated card for your flexible expenses, maintaining a clear distinction from your primary bank account. This approach helps you stay on top of your budget and ensures that you're always in control of your spending.

Discounted Travel

Cambridge is a walkable city, but for longer journeys, consider a bike. If you're investing in a bike, prioritise safety by purchasing a good D-lock and register it on the Bike Register website. If you prefer a different mode of transport, consider Voi electric scooters that are located all around the city. They offer a student discount when you register with your student email. To enhance safety and enjoy additional discounts, always wear a helmet. For those using public transport, Stagecoach buses are an excellent option. Their Academic Annual Student Passes cover your travel for the entire academic year, including evenings, weekends and half terms, all from £1.58 per day!* Whether by bike, scooter or bus, these options can help you navigate the city while keeping your budget intact.

*Prices are subject to change, please check with Stagecoach for the latest information.

Smart Grocery Shopping

Cambridge has various supermarkets and local markets. Plan your meals, make a shopping list. Eating out frequently can dent your budget. Embrace the art of meal prepping. Cook in batches, freeze portions and reheat when needed. It's not only cost-effective but also a time-saver during busy study periods. Loyalty cards from major supermarkets often come with exclusive discounts and rewards. Apps like "Too Good To Go" can also help you grab discounted surplus food from local eateries.

Textbook Alternatives: Affordable Study Materials

Textbooks often come with a hefty price tag. Before purchasing, check if your required course materials are available at the university library or consider exploring digital alternatives. On our ARU Library website, you have the option to request both digital and hard copies of books and articles that may not be readily available. These resources can be sourced for you to use in your studies. Make sure to attend your library induction sessions to fully understand and utilise the fantastic services they provide to support your academic journey.

Thrifty Socialising

Cambridge offers a plethora of cultural and social activities. Check out free events, join university clubs, and explore student-friendly deals at local pubs and cafes. For example, The Cambridge Arts Picture House offers discounted tickets for students, making it an excellent spot for a budget-friendly movie night. Essentially, always carry your student ID and explore the discounts available in the area.

Loyalty Apps

Harness the power of loyalty apps to stretch your budget further. Whether it's cash-back options, exclusive discounts, or points systems, you can effortlessly optimise your shopping experiences. Here are some of my favourite apps that offer discounts for students:

  • Café Nero: Currently offering a 25% discount for students.
  • Boots Advantage Card: Enjoy a 10% student discount, this includes the meal deal offers. Boots Advantage Card not only accumulates points with each purchase but also provides exclusive discounts for students.
  • UNiDAYS and Student Beans: These apps offer a treasure trove of student discount codes from a variety of retailers. Keep your eye on these platforms for exclusive deals and savings across a range of products and services.

Selling Online

Lastly, consider exploring different online platforms to sell items, not only to enhance your budget but also to contribute to sustainability. Here are two platforms that I highly recommend for their safety and effectiveness:

  • eBay: Here you can sell a wide range of items. Whether it's clothing, electronics, or collectibles, eBay provides a vast audience for your listings.
  • Vinted: Specifically focused on fashion, Vinted is an excellent choice for selling pre-loved clothing. One notable advantage is that Vinted currently offers no selling fees, making it a cost-effective option.

ARU Temps: Your On-Campus Employment Solution

A standout resource for Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) students is ARU Temps, part of ARU’s Employability Service. This on-campus recruitment agency provides paid temporary work opportunities tailored to fit around your studies. ARU Temps isn’t just a job provider; it's a unique resourcing tool for employers, connecting students with meaningful work experiences. One of the exceptional aspects of ARU Temps is its commitment to fair wages. So, if you're looking to increase your income while gaining practical experience, ARU Temps is your go-to solution right on campus. Make sure to explore the opportunities it offers to enhance both your financial standing and employability.

With these tips, including insights into ARU Temps, you'll be able to make the most of your time in Cambridge without constantly worrying about your bank balance. Embrace the student mindset of resourcefulness, and you'll discover that frugality can coexist with a fulfilling and enriching university experience.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.