Making the most of Manchester… on a budget

By Mary Johnson

There have been times when I feel like I’ve single-handedly cured England of any hint of a recession from just one lone shopping spree. I won’t lie, I love to shop but what satisfies the itch of retail-therapy more than anything is a well found bargain.

Naturally as a student, I always have an eye out for discounts and I’m happy to share some of my golden rules and tips for life at the University right here…

  1. ‘It’s not a bargain if you don’t need it,’ is probably one of the most relevant phrases to keep in mind when you’ve got your hunting goggles on. It’s so easy to be blinded by a ‘great deal’! Do the odd catch-and-release exercise and you’ll realise you never really needed a multi-pack of low quality USB leads or that personalised cotton tote in the first place! If worse comes to worst, you can always return after the heat of that initial sighting and purchase on further reflection. I repeat, IF YOU DON’T NEED IT, PUT IT DOWN.
  1. Don’t be fooled by the array of £1 shops, 3-for-2 or BOGOF (Buy-One-Get-One-Free) deals that Manchester has to offer. Admittedly, I have be known to get carried away in Poundland and later that day found the very same item at the likes of Lidl or Aldi for a considerably better price!
    Be wary of these places friends…


When realisation hits

3. Try online! A word of warning, do some research before splashing your cash – or your bank card –  as you can often find what you need for much less on sites like Amazon and eBay. *Mini tip: Unless you absolutely need a completely clean copy to annotate, go for a second-hand version of the book! Those declared ‘Used – Like New’ often are ‘like new’ and a fraction of the price! Personally, I also really like the worn-in feel of an older copy!

Here are a few of my favourite deals and tips on and off campus:

On campus

As student loans land and the initial adrenaline and unattainable dreams of booking first-class trains everywhere take over, *adopts motherly tone* try and look ahead in the semester to budget your money rather than blowing your cash on an unnecessary luxury expense. Work out your monthly expenses to calculate what you’ll have left over to live on and you can plan ahead on treats like cinema trips, going out and holidays abroad!

Meat Free Mondays at the Students’ Union: all dishes without meat are half price at Union Bar every Monday! Such a fantastic deal – for both you and the environment! Give yourself plenty of time as it can get pretty busy… I really recommend the goat’s cheese pizza.

Brodericks £1 drinks in the Library and Learning Commons (and possibly dotted around elsewhere). A sweet dessert to compliment your veggie lunch earlier on in the week, go on you can afford it. #treatyoself

Prepare a packed lunch! Try and plan your shopping; buy in bulk and save yourself a fortune instead of eating out. I can’t stress how much a good lunch-making habit will save you in the long run. – A lot!


When you’re allergic to seafood but really want in on the sushi trend.

Speaking of running…

Sporticipate! These are literally free exercise classes organised for students by the University. The Sugden Sports Centre also offers a great 9-month student membership for only £120! This may sound like a lot of money to part with in one go, but I’ve done the math and if you go regularly it really works out (pun intended)!

Off campus

Get a part-time job! (This is a bit of a joint one as there are some great jobs going on campus too!) Aside from the obvious financial benefits, balancing a job alongside your studies is a great demonstration of independence, personal time management and teamwork skills. A job can mean meeting a whole new circle of friends outside your academic discipline and a healthy change of scene every so often. Not to mention, it’s one form of procrastination you won’t feel guilty about because you’ll be earning.

Loyalty cards – if you don’t have a Boots card, get one! You can thank me later! Paperchase have also started a fantastic deal for their members, which I’m very excited about – FREE coffee every week from their cafe on the top floor. (This is not a drill people!)


Caffeine dependency level: Lorelai Gilmore

Charity shops! I don’t mean the ‘cool’ overpriced ones, we’re talking Oxfam, Red Cross and Cancer Research (the Holy Trinity)… It is so worth inhaling those funky steam-cleaned ‘thrift store’ odours to find genuinely high quality clothes at ridiculously low prices!


Me when I first laid eyes on the 100% wool coat I snagged from Red Cross for £12

Happy hunting friends!


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