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Free Stuff For Students: How To Live On Basically Nothing

Aug. 21, 2013
3 mins
A happy young woman wearing a yellow sweater works on her laptop

With the start of school just around the corner, it’s time for post secondary students to start tightening their belts and rethinking their budgets. Savvy students know that living well while on a budget is possible - you just need to know a few tricks. Before adding anything to your back-to-school list, check out this guide for finding free stuff for students and save yourself a buck.

Borrow, Don’t Pay

Why pay for something when you can simply borrow it for free, right? That’s what your local library is for. Instead of renting or buying, visit your library for books, CDs and DVDs. Same goes for your text books, if you know someone who has taken your courses!

Get In The Habit Of Buying Bulk

Although it’ll be tough to find food for free, you can save a buck by buying in bulk. Likewise, if you see a big sale on something you purchase often, stock up. It might cost you now, but it will certainly save you later. Using coupons can help cut that grocery bill down, too. Visit couponing sites like Grocery Alerts and sign up for daily freebies and discounts.

Go Easy On The Entertainment

Students often find that they’re frugal when it comes to living expenses, but blow the budget when it comes to entertainment. University and college life can be socially demanding. Entertain for free by inviting friends over and staying in more often. Limit going out to once a week - that way you’ll enjoy it more. And when you do go out, choose businesses that offer student discounts, as well as daily specials.

For at-home entertainment, instead of paying a hefty fee for cable, try Netflix or watching TV online. Host a potluck dinner. You’d be surprised by how much fun they can be. See a matinee – they’re half the price. Or visit a museum. They often offer discounts and sometimes only ask for donations.

Hit Up The Twitterverse For Getaways

I can’t begin to tell you how many cool things I’ve won on Twitter. It seems a lot of companies – big and small – host Twitter contests, but not a lot of people participate. I’ve won tickets to events, gift cards (in the form of credit cards), a hockey jersey, USB keys, a cooler, a John Deere hat, a handcrafted welcome sign and eight plastic cups. It takes only a moment to enter, and it’s free!

Be Frugal With Furniture

The cost of furniture can certainly eat into any budget, but it doesn’t have to if you’re willing to sacrifice aesthetics. That’s what university is all about after all – mismatched furniture, wobbly coffee tables and funky patterns out of the 70s. For free furniture visit both Kijiji and Craigslist. They both have free sections where furniture is regularly on offer. Usually, all you have to do is pick it up and it’s yours.

Fitness For Free

There are ways to stay in shape for free, too. Hit the campus gym (usually free, but not always), or join a local team. If you want to play but can’t afford to pay, offer to sub in when teams are short-handed.

See if you can volunteer at your local YMCA - most offer free membership to volunteers if they give a certain number of hours per week (usually four). Plus, it looks great on a resume! Finally, a great way to stay in shape for free is to hike with a friend. Hit up your local trails year round and get to better know your new home.

Cheap Deals To Be Had

It pays to be a deal hunter! Check out daily deal sites like Wagjag, Groupon and ethicalDeal - while their wares aren't for free, you can score discounts on a number of goods and services - even a spa package or two otherwise out of your price range. Just use self control - there's no point in buying inexpensive items if you're doing so excessively.

One of the biggest lessons you’ll learn in school is how to live frugally. Trust me; they’re lessons you’ll carry with you through life. You’ll be wiser for it, and your money will go a whole pile further.


The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

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