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The ultimate Cambridge freshers’ guide to saving money

SFE works hard, but Cozzie Livs works harder


You’ve just applied for your Santander student account and got yourself a life-saving, new railcard. SFE enters your bank and you’ve found yourself a little richer.

But, the cost of living in the Southern and tourist city of Cambridge is high even when we don’t have a crisis on our hands. Here are the best eight ways to save some money and avoid being a silly fresher from day one.

UNiDAYS all day, every day

If you’re anything like me, you’ll make a purchase or eat out somewhere, accept the fate of the bill when it comes and move on with your day, until you’re scrolling through your phone a few days later and see that green U on your home screen. You’re curious, so you decide to scroll through and see what’s on offer.

“10 per cent off at *the restaurant you just ate at* for students”

I always forget to use UNiDAYS, but do keep a regular eye out for deals. If you’re a fresher and you don’t know about Sidge fashion, I suggest doing your research and gathering some worthy outfits now. It’s like Paris Fashion Week in there. Here’s where 10 per cent off at ASOS, JD and Nike through the UNiDAYS app will come in clutch.

And don’t forget, some places offer separate student discount too. Caffè Nero will be your go-to in times of stress and sleep deprivation. Fancy being an iPad girly for the new academic year? Make sure you exploit the Apple Education discount so you can scribble and tap away in lectures to your heart’s desire.

Exploited the 20 per cent off, to say the least (Image credit: Patrick Dolan)

Monzo is a must

Apart from having a nice-looking card, Monzo is also practical for budgeting and setting aside money. It shows your transactions instantly, is perfect for MMLers with no charges when travelling and allows you to easily send money to friends when they’ve paid for dinner.

It even shows you your spending trends every week. I think I might need to cut down on The Eagle a bit! (The cover photo says otherwise.)

Won’t be losing my green Monzo any time soon (Image credit: Patrick Dolan)

Save yourself from card-declining embarrassment

It even shows you your spending trends every week. I think I might need to cut down on The Eagle a bit! (The cover photo says otherwise.)

Won’t be losing my green Monzo any time soon (Image credit: Patrick Dolan)

Save yourself from card-declining embarrassment

Fancy a Saturday night pizza at Zizzi’s? Want to actually read a book at your own pace for a change from Waterstones? Maybe you fancy the trek to the Grafton for Primark’s new collection. Curve gets you effortless cashback at all of these places and many more around Cambridge.

Has your card ever declined for four VKs at a Rumboogie? It’s a new low. With Curve’s anti-embarrassment mode, your chosen backup card will be activated automatically if the payment doesn’t go through. Uno-reverse card: you get to decline your card declining. Neither the cashier nor your friends will ever have to know.

And it might not be able to go back in time and reverse that drunk text, but it can rewind and reshuffle your finances if you’ve paid with the wrong card with its “Go Back in Time” feature.

You are absolutely on your own with that drunk text, however.

(Image credit: via Curve)

In for a penny, in for a pound

Maybe the finance bros at Cambridge have scared you away from investing. If you’re anything like me and don’t understand the world of finance even after multiple explanations down the pub, look no further than Moneybox.

By connecting it to your current account, it will round up all purchases to the nearest pound and, if you choose, invest it in companies or sectors of your choice.

You can feel less guilty about those drinks you bought in Revs on Wednesday because you were technically saving at the same time.

Your tutor, a.k.a your financial advisor

Your tutor will be more than happy to help with any financial troubles you are having. Whilst they might not quite have the lottery numbers, the advantage of speaking to them is they can inform you of the financial aid that your college and the wider uni offers.

Hardship funding, travel grants and the Cambridge Bursary are just some of the support that is available.

I was fortunate enough to receive funding for a trip to Madrid from Corpus (Image credit: Patrick Dolan)

Live laugh lib

You don’t need a library in your room the size of the UL.

Whilst it is practical to have your own copy of texts so you can annotate and cover them in pastel highlighters, it will often be cheaper to borrow books from the hundreds of libraries contained in the city. However, if you find yourself in desperate need of your own copy, your college parents or AbeBooks will be the next best alternative.

I think Amazon will live without your £10 purchase.

Chasing the highs of Ticketbridge

It’s the little things in Cambridge that matter and that keep you going. So when you find yourself in Spoons begging for tickets to Rumboogie, you know you’re enjoying life, but you’ve entered a new low.

However, Ticketbridge isn’t just good for letting you embarrass yourself every Wednesday and Sunday. Anything from Taylor Swift to May Ball tickets will be sold on here, so it’s best to keep an eye out for any steals.

James from Surrey will always be there (Image credit: author’s own screenshot via @Camfess)

Cambridge is flat for a reason

Cambridge was not designed to be flat so you can Uber everywhere. Whilst Uber and buses can be handy if you’re heading all the way to Junction, your everyday routine can be made cheaper by investing in cycling and walking everywhere.

If you do find yourself out of the city centre, and aren’t willing to be a sofa surfer, a bike will be a huge investment for the next three to four years.

Under no circumstance, however, should you be seen using a Voi.