Money Social Student-made

How to ‘live your best life’ on a student budget

Money can’t buy happiness but, as we all know, it’s better to cry about your dissertation on the beach in Santorini than in a gloomy library surrounded by other not so joyous students. Every now and then we all deserve a break and some TLC; whether that’s eating out, having that much needed spa day or a little retail therapy to distract us from our uni woes.

However, treating yourself often comes at the expense of your bank account and balanced diet when it’s time to live of two-minute noodles after a splurge. The good news is there are ways to avoid these painful expenses and still live your best life. As a final-year Economics and Finance student I can tell you a thing or two about maximising consumer surplus and expected returns. But I’ll try my best to spare you from all the maths and endless theories by sharing my ultimate guide to solving the utility maximisation problem as a university student (making the most out of your resources given a budget constraint).

1. Honey (discount code finder)

If Chuck Norris was a discount code finder he’d come in the form of this browser extension that automatically finds and applies coupon codes at checkout whenever you shop or have to pay for anything online. In mainstream economics, consumer surplus means paying less than the maximum amount you’d be willing to pay for an item. In the hopes of maximising this surplus, I never pay full price for anything without having a comb through the internet for discount codes.

However, from the Tourist Trap Model I’ve learnt that, when search costs are higher than the amount you’d save, it’s not worth looking through each tab on Google just to find a code that works. In layman’s terms, ain’t nobody got time for that, so Honey simply searches the web for available codes that have been used within the last hour or so on the site you’re shopping on. It then tests them all to find the best one that saves you the most money and is still valid at the time of your search. Almost sounds too good to be true, Chuck Norris I tell you.

Save your coins and download the Honey browser extension.

2. Treatwell (hair, nails, spa days)

This is how you treat yourself without breaking the bank. Treatwell allows you to browse over 10,000 spas and salons near you, read reviews and book your next appointment at discounts whilst making more money to spend on your next pamper day for every review you leave. And, if you remember the Chuck Norris of discount codes I mentioned earlier, you can double the savings by finding a valid discount code on Honey at the time of your booking and apply it on Treatwell.

On a side note, regular treatments such as getting your nails can be high maintenance and require upkeep. For all my slay queens out there with their acrylics and shellac polish on fleek 24/7, do yourself a favour and buy your own home kit. You could save up to £1200 a year by investing in your own gel polish, UV lamp and acrylic set which can all be found for a bargain on Amazon. For example, a starter pack only costs £37 for everything you could possibly need for a mani-pedi and is my tried and tested go to.

Treat yourself by downloading the Treatwell app.

3. AliExpress (bargains, bargains and more bargains)

Firms make profits by selling items at prices much higher than they sourced or manufactured them, also known as supply chain surplus. AliExpress allows you to shop directly from small businesses in China and other locations while cutting out the middleman/marked up prices charged by larger retailers for the same or similar goods. The only downside of this website, which is also available as an app, is the longer delivery time for some products but given the bargain prices it’s worth the wait. From accessories, stationary, clothing, gadgets, appliances – you name it. A quick read through the reviews is advisable but the next time you’re on Amazon or eBay, have a look on AliExpress as most people just resell items from there at higher prices.

Take a shop on AliExpress.

4. OpenTable, Freshr, UNiDAYS (eating out, activities, shopping)

Last but not least, the apps you need to download before your next shop, activity and restaurant reservation. OpenTable allows you to make reservations at anywhere for your next meal and gives you a list of deals and discounts available in your area. You also accumulate free points with every booking for free meals later.

Freshr and UniDays are student discount apps with codes for shopping and other activities like bowling and mini golf. You’ll need to login and verify your student status to gain access to all the available student deals however student codes may only be 10-30% off whereas Honey (the Chuck Norris) finds all the best codes and you could find yourself a 50-80% deal that’s more than a student offer if you check that first.

You can download the OpenTable app, and join Freshr and UNiDAYS on their websites.