Much as we love to spend the weekends hitting the town as hard we hit the books during the week, sometimes the cost of living as a postgrad student can keep the night of your dreams precisely there: in your dreams. However, with a little inventiveness, you can still have a fantastic night on your limited means and it doesn’t necessarily involve staying indoors or sober either!
1. The work/play trade off
Volunteering can be a great way to enjoy a night out at very little cost. We don’t necessarily mean hanging out at the local soup kitchen – kind though that would be! We’re talking about offering to help at events in exchange for free entry. For example, if you’re in London, you could volunteer to usher at the Globe theatre and be given free entry to the performance in exchange for your efforts. Contact venues and organisers of live, ticketed events in your area to see if there’s some way to switch your services for a free ticket.
2. The house party
Buying supermarket-priced drinks and snacks is a lot cheaper than visiting a pub or restaurant so – even though you’ll have to clear up in the morning, which might not be very appealing – hosting a party at your place is a much more affordable way of dancing the night away. Not only is it cheap, but the element of control also ensures that there’s no dodgy music playing…
3. The uni societies
As a postgrad, you may not be targeted by the societies in Freshers’ Week with the same zealous intensity facing undergrad recruits, but postgrad students are just as welcome to join most clubs and societies. In fact, what with the absence of SLC funding for postgraduate study, some might argue that postgrads need these cheap societies even more than their undergrad counterparts!
Societies include sports, hobbies and skill swaps. Although they usually have an annual sign-up fee, many clubs will provide free events throughout the year, including quizzes, film screenings, discussion groups, games, sports matches and socials, some of which will include free refreshments. Best of all, as you’re all students together, you’re likely to be in similar financial situations and therefore the odds of one person suggesting an outrageously expensive event are very small.
4. The home cinema
If you like the idea of film screenings but your university doesn’t have a film club and you’re not inclined to start one, you can make the most of your student discount by catching movies at a discounted rate during the day. However, if you’d like to have a little more variety in your choice of films, you could set up a home cinema. Between the library (public or university), LoveFilm, Netflix and your own personal stash of films, you should have a large enough catalogue to see you through the year or few that it takes to complete your course. If you’re living in a house share , you could even contribute a little each in order to buy a second-hand projector and screen for the ultimate in-home film entertainment, and if pre-popped and pre-bagged popcorn stretches your funds a little too much, you can always buy a bag of corn kernels and make your own in a saucepan.
5. The frugal night out
If none of the above appeals and you still want to head into town, check out whether there are any free events happening in your city (pub gigs, carnivals, outdoor performances) and head on down there. Even if the venue isn’t specifically targeted at students and doesn’t feature discounts, remember that lime and soda is a particularly cheap drink to buy at a pub!