How To Live On A Student Budget in Nottingham

Written by Lauren Pinkney

Student life is almost synonymous with living on a budget in Nottingham. It can be hard finding a balance between scrimping and saving and having a good time. Nottingham may already be one of the less expensive cities in the UK, but savings can still be made – and Unifresher is going to help you!

We’ve compiled a short guide to living on a student budget in Nottingham so you can use your cash for more important things, like buying 12 blue Vks in Ocean for you and a bunch of people you met in the toilet! 🚽

1. Travel smart

living on a student budget in Nottingham
(Image: thetram.net) There are lots of travel options geared towards students – it pays to do some research!

While it may seem a big splurge early on in the academic year, £259 for a NCT student bus pass may just be your biggest money saver. It could be that you prefer to walk into uni and only take the bus into the city on special occasions, but if you feel you’ll use the bus services even semi-regularly, a term time bus pass is worth considering. If a full-term time bus pass isn’t for you, be sure to still verify your student ID with the NCTX app, to get student discounts on all bus journeys.

If trams are a more convenient form of transport for you, there are also options to help you save money. The student Mango card gives you the best deal for every journey and caps your weekly travel expenses at £13. Tap in, tap off cards not only save money, but also time (much less chance of you missing that 9am lecture!). If you plan on cycling to tram stops, you can give a one off payment of £5 for access to secure Citycard Cycle Parks

A term time Robin Hood card is also available for students for the price of £360, however it’s unlikely you’ll be using buses, trams and trains to the extent where this will be required – so maybe give this one a pass!

2. Tuck into food, not your savings!

living on a student budget in Nottingham
(Image:Visit Nottinghamshire) Pitcher and Piano offers happy hour discounts

Nottingham is blessed with a wide selection of delicious restaurants to try and quirky bars to explore. Experiencing this side of Nottingham is a must but taking some time to look for deals can make your lifestyle a whole lot less expensive.

The best places to go to find up to date deals and discounts is Nottinghamshire Live, Visit Nottinghamshire and It’s In Nottingham.

Most bars run happy hours and 2-4-1 deals regularly. Once you know where’s best to go on what day, you’ll feel confident exploring the wonders of Nottingham’s nightlife safe in the knowledge you’re not going to bust the bank.

For example, Bunk gives cocktails away for £4.50 until 10pm, The Bodega has a ‘Sociable Hour’ from 4pm to 8pm everyday with drinks starting at £2 and at Pepper Rocks you can grab a cocktail for £4 until 10pm. Similar deals can be found at Tilt, Rescue Rooms and a lot more…

If you don’t mind starting your night off a bit early, it can save you a lot of money in the long run (not that you’ll be thinking about the long run after 4 cocktails!)

3. Shop ‘Til You Drop…

grab and go
(Image: Andrew Marlow Hallsworth) Snatch up food going to waste from the Specialty Coffee Shop and save some cash!

One of your biggest expenses at uni will be food shopping.

It may seem obvious but the best way to save some coins to plan out your meals a week or so in advance and buy in bulk. Write down what meals you’re going to make, everything you need to make them and then ONLY buy those ingredients. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve gone for food shops but not come back with any actual meals!

It may be worthwhile clubbing together with your housemates / flatmates and doing an online shop to get free delivery. The student areas of Nottingham are well serviced by Tesco online shopping. Online shopping helps you resist the temptation to buy things you don’t need; ensures you don’t miss anything off your list and lets you see all the deals available to you in one place.

If online shopping isn’t an option or not your style, you could save money by adjusting what time you go. For example, towards the late afternoon / evening, shops will start reducing food that’s about to go past it’s sell by date – snatch these deals up now and stick them in the freezer!

And it’s always worth checking out apps like Too Good To Go. They tell you when food is about to go to waste in your area so not only can it save your purse a few pounds, but it also saves food from going in the bin – win win!

In Nottingham, places like the Speciality Coffee Shop in Friars Lane, The Ugly Bread Bakery and Thunder Road Kitchen are all signed up!

4. Tackle the Textbook Nightmare!

(Image: Canva) Textbook shopping can be a budgeting nightmare!

Apart from telling you guys to get your arses down to the library, finding cheap university textbooks can be a tricky one. Here are some things to try out before accepting defeat and buying the best priced second hand copy you can find online:

  • Add “PDF” to internet searches in the hopes it has been uploaded in full online – this is more likely for older versions of textbooks.
  • Make a post on the Nottingham Buy/Sell Facebook group to see if there are past students willing to sell you their copies. It’s worth checking out Facebook marketplace too!
  • Club together with course mates to buy a copy. Share the cost and share custody!

Being a student comes with unique costs and quite limited sources of income, so saving your precious pennies is really important.

It doesn’t have to lead to a depressing life eating plain pasta and never leaving the house, you can live a fulfilling student life in Nottingham just by making smarter budget decisions and seeing what’s out there.

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