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We asked our community of students the cheapest thing they did to save money!

"How can I eat for the rest of the week if I go out tonight?" 

This is the question many cash strapped students regularly face. But what is it really like to live on a student loan...

Tags: HE Thinking

Ben Marks
Ben Marks

Ben is YouthSight's founder and CEO. He's a well-renowned personality in the market research industry and has great connections with the MRS and HEPI.

"How can I eat for the rest of the week if I go out tonight?" 

This is the question many cash strapped students regularly face. But what is it really like to live on a student loan in 2015? And how far will students go to save cash?  Our community managers wanted to know, so they turned to The OpinionPanel Community and asked 200 student members to share their money saving experiences. The results were often funny, creative... and occasionally shocking. Do read on to see the more creative schemes! While it's more journalist fun than market research we still think it's revealing and worth a share.

1. 63% of students cut back spending on food

Buying really cheap, often high calorie, food was the most popular tactic. From regular ‘hot dog curries’ to eating Ramen for breakfast, lunch and dinner… for 2 weeks continuously, this form of food economy was the single most popular way of saving cash.


Some travelled miles to several supermarkets to source the cheapest ingredients, and the ‘reduced’ sections in supermarkets were hot spots to grab a bargain. Some admitted they knew that this tactic could compromise their health:

"I decided to spend all my maintenance loan on new amps for my guitar. With no money left for food, I ate Weetabix for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a whole term… and got scurvy!"

Student from University of Bristol

 2. 35% admitted stealing food

The kind of theft that most students in this category admitted to wasn't really theft at all; more like cheeky or creative behaviour where the wrong could and would be righted.

"We though our flat mate had moved out, so we ate our way though all his freezer food, which we though they’d left. However a month later they turned up to an empty freezer!"

Student from University of Cumbria

Eating a neighbouring customer’s leftover food at a restaurant is more waste reduction than theft and should, perhaps, be encouraged!



3. 25% admitted stealing toilet roll…

The victims of loo roll theft were most frequently the student union, the university library and the local supermarket toilets. For many, spending money on toilet roll was quite literally, like flushing cash down the loo...


4. 10% admitted to taking more than their fair share of complimentary gifts/ freebies

Maybe this route to saving cash was only mentioned by 10% because most felt it too obvious and normal to mention. Those who did mention to this kind of action were often practising the art on a grand scale. One student admitted to grabbing enough pens at Freshers’ Fairs to last them their entire three year degree course. Another explained they took sugar sachets from Costa on a semi-industrial scale. On student admitted to surviving largely on canapés and pizzas at free career events for a whole term.



Finally, some of the more creative 'extreme money saving' ideas:

"I was too broke to get a birthday present for my friend, so I asked everyone I know to order free Astroturf samples. He now has a one-of-a-kind green rug."

A creative, astro turf green rug

"I used the communal laundry iron upside down and wedged between your law books as a cooking surface for a cheese toastie."

"I walked to the Apple store pretty much every day for a term to charge my phone instead of buying a new phone charger"

I've been to 15 music festivals and never have I once paid for alcohol. Here’s me carrying 12+ litres of home-brewed Strawberry Mead. (Note: The mead was lovely though and cost something like £1 per 70cl bottle to make!)

A creative way to save money on alcohol