Starting out as a first-year student is all about grabbing opportunities and experiencing life…but that can get really pricey, really fast.
Luckily, there are lots of ways to save money on student essentials (and not-so-essentials)! You can totally enjoy student life without breaking the bank. Here’s how:
Buy books on a budget
One of the biggest expenses students deal with right off the bat is books. Textbooks can be expensive, but there are still ways to save!
When you’re at the UBC Bookstore (or when you’re ordering online), check to see if your course texts are available used. It’s also sometimes possible to rent them and return them at the end of the term. Either option can save you up to 55% of the cost. Learn more on the Bookstore's FAQs page.
You can also check to see if your assigned texts are available at Discount Textbooks in the University Village, or join one of the many UBC textbook marketplace groups on Facebook (simply search “ubc textbooks”), where students sell their old books to each other.
(P.S. When you’re done a course, you can always make back some cash by selling your texts!)
Stock up on snacks
Take a trip to a nearby grocery store (Save-On Foods in Wesbrook Village and No Frills at West 4th Ave and Alma are both good options) and stock up on non-perishable or long-lasting staples that you can keep in your room or carry around with you during the day.
Store-bought pastries or other grab-and-go items usually have a pretty high mark up. Think of the cost of one of those plastic containers of cut-up fruit or even a Starbucks muffin compared with bringing, say, an apple or some cheese and crackers from home.
In first year, I always had a supply of peanut butter, apples, popcorn, and instant oatmeal on hand. Easy and healthy, especially when rushing off to an early morning class!
...or at least try to cut back.
My morning latte habit ended up costing me almost $500 in the first term of first year. Five. Hundred. Dollars. Think of all the things I could have used that money for!
If you just can’t go caffeine-free, invest in a coffee maker or french press and make it at home (that means you’ll get it faster after you wake up, anyway). Even instant can be pretty good in a pinch!
Budget Bytes is a great resource for beginners on a budget. Her recipes are simple and offer a lot of variety, plus she breaks everything down by cost per serving.
If you do live in residence, there's a surprising number of meals that can be made in the microwave in your floor lounge. See what you can create!
There are also lots of businesses around Vancouver that will give you a student discount if you show them your UBCcard, including:
- 10% off groceries at IGA on West 4th Ave
- 5-10% off at nearby fitness spots like Modo Yoga, The Hive Climbing Gym, the YMCA/YWCA, and Gold’s Gym
- 20-25% off admission to places like the Aquarium, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and Science World
- Free admission to the Museum of Anthropology (along with all the other museums at UBC!)
- Discounts on electronics at Apple and Microsoft (not to mention our free access to Office 365)
- Half-price subscriptions to Apple Music and Spotify Premium
- About a million eateries and retail stores if you have a Student Price Card (although if you’re trying to save money, go easy on dining out and avoid retail therapy at all costs!)
Honestly, it’s almost always worth it to at least ask if there’s a discount available—you never know what you might be able to save on!
Keep it creative
Trying to save money doesn’t have to be a drag! Use it as an opportunity to be creative.
Make it into a competition with friends to see who can spend the least in a month. Make a bet with your significant other to see who can plan the best cheap date. Use your weekends to spend time outdoors instead of spending money on expensive drinks or activities.