Budget student supplies - Bang for your buck

Budget student supplies

Nicola Paul scours the high street and beyond to find the best outlets without breaking the bank

That student loan never goes quite as far as it should, does it? But a bit of savvy shopping on student essentials means all the more cash to spend on nights out. Follow our budget tips to gear yourself up for the new term.

It will probably only take until the end of the first week before you’re fed up at the lack of free computers in the uni library (that is, if you’ve actually attempted to do any work yet). Beat the crowds by getting yourself a second-hand one at a knockdown price – try Cash Converters or www.gumtree.com for a bargain, but have a good look before you buy.

If you still need a few extra gadgets, check out www.studentphones.co.uk and www.wealthystudent.co.uk. These sites compare tariffs, handsets and networks to find the best deals, and also lists all the freebies available through different price plans – including laptops, Xbox 360s and HDTVs. The latter will also search for the best deals on mobile internet and broadband tariffs.

Missed the boat on those core texts in the library? Try www.amazon.co.uk or the university noticeboard – there will always be past students trying to offload their old copies on the cheap, and you might even find some useful notes in the margins… Ryman Stationery offer 12.5% student discount online and in-store on everything from notebooks to printers to post-it pads.

Kit out your student digs with minimum effort with a visit to www.thecookskitchen.com. It sells a variety of starter-packs filled with kitchen essentials like tin-openers and wine glasses, and for the more adventurous there are premium packs including luxuries such as cafetieres and woks. Check out Tesco and Asda for bargain bedding and homewares for a flat you won’t feel embarrassed to have a party in.

Do yourself (and your health) a favour and don’t live up to the student stereotype by living off Pot Noodles bought from the nearest 24-hour shop. Lidl, Aldi and Iceland have all seen their sales boom because of the recession, and offer a wide range of fresh and frozen foods and cupboard staples. It’s also worth checking out your local greengrocer and butcher for fresh produce. Its much cheaper than buying kebabs on the way home from the pub too.

Getting around can be an expensive business these days. Walking or cycling is always a cheap option, but often not too appealing in the cold and wet Scottish weather. For just £26, a 16-25 Railcard gives a third off all rail travel for a year. Firstbus also offers discounted bus passes to students, starting at £7 a week in Glasgow and £11 in Edinburgh, so no more worries about having to pay for taxis home after a night out.

And finally, think carefully about where you want to keep that student loan before it runs out. The banks are always keen to get new custom, offering generous gifts in return for looking after your cash. The Royal Bank of Scotland is offering a free railcard, USB stick and discounts in Borders, Domino’s Pizza and Faith Shoes. Get a free NUS Extra Card, a membership to the Youth Hostel Association and 35 free music downloads at Lloyds TSB. Bank of Scotland is advertising a whopping £3,000 overdraft (although that might not be a good thing).

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