Let’s face it, living on a student budget is hard. You have to balance rent, groceries, petrol, and entertainment costs. To make it worse, big cities like Cape Town are super trendy, exciting, and social, but expensive to live in. Fear not! We have a list of tips and hacks that you can start to use straight away to help you balance your budget.

Reduce Your Grocery Bill – Shop With Friends

Many supermarkets have great deals when you buy in bulk. This allows you to stock up on non-perishable foods like canned food and toiletries. For fresh foods, however, you have to get a bit more creative.

Try shopping with your neighbours, housemates or friends and split the items (and the savings) among you:

  • Find a group of friends who want to save money (like you) and start a WhatsApp group.
  • Organise monthly bulk shopping trips and look out for spot promotions.
  • Use an app like Splitwise to help keep track of who owes who money.

Stores like Food Lover’s often have great deals on bulk vegetables and fruit and stores like Makro allow you to get better unit prices when you buy in bulk.

If you don’t have any friends that want to save money with you and you have a freezer, you can also buy bulk or family packs, portion out the food, and freeze for later.

fresh vegetables at the supermarketMaximise Your Bank’s Student Account Benefits

Most banks offer some really great student lifestyle benefits with their student accounts. These range from monthly data and meal vouchers to discounted gym memberships and travel options.

Each bank offers different benefits:

  • ABSA has monthly food vouchers, free data, gym membership discounts, and travel vouchers.
  • Nedbank’s Unlocked.me portal offers discounted prices on a range of tech, fashion, and experiences.
  • FNB offers data, and travel discounts as well as monthly coupons and vouchers.
  • Standard bank offers a free Varsity Vibe Membership (Varsity Vibe is a student discount app).

If you are still on your parent’s account you might be able to convince them to let you use their banking benefits like ABSA rewards, FNB eBucks, or Standard Bank Ucount Rewards.

Get Freebies – Sign Up For The Entertainer

This one involves spending a little bit of money, but is well worth the investment.

The Entertainer is an app that gives you access to hundreds of buy 2 for the price of 1 offers on everything from meals and drinks to spa treatments and accommodation. This is great for couples or friends who want to save when they go out.

How do you get the app?

  • Download The Entertainer app from Playstore or iStore.
  • Sign up and select the city that you want deals for. The Cape Town product costs R495 per year (currently discounted to R295) or if you have
  • FNB eBucks you can get it for free!
  • Browse through the lists of vendors near you and start saving.

two hamburgers on a plateStay Healthy and Save by Packing Lunch

Avoid the temptation of unhealthy campus food or overpriced café food by bringing lunch with you to campus. You can easily make yourself a sandwich or an extra portion of dinner to take for lunch. Your student budget and your waistline will thank you!

Pay Less for Coffee – Get a Reusable Coffee Cup

Did you know that several independent and chain coffee shops will give you a discount if you bring your own cup?

Invest in a reusable coffee cup like an Ecoffee or Keep Cup and make that coffee a guilt free splurge.

Check out these coffee shops that offer discounts if you bring your own cup:

  • Tribe Coffee get a R10 coffee.
  • Vida e Caffe get R2 off your coffee.
  • Seattle Coffee save 10 %.
  • Woolworths Cafe and Coffee carts get R1 off.
  • Origin Coffee get R1 off.

woman drinking from a reusable cup in forest

Score Bargains at Flea Markets and Thrift Stores

You can pick up some great deals and spend time with friends without having to spend money – unless you find a great deal of course!

Some of the best thrift stores and flea markets in Cape Town are listed below:

  • Milnerton Flea market is open on Saturday and Sunday mornings as well as public holidays and offers everything from free-range eggs to old furniture and bric-a-brac. Make sure to get there early as the best deals go quickly!
  • Lower Main Road in Observatory has some great treasures for vintage clothing and antiques.
  • Kalk Bay Main Road is another gem for vintage and thrift stores.

Flash your Student Card and Get Student Discounts

Take advantage of all sorts of special offers, student discounts, and savings simply by having a student card and asking nicely.

Try it out for yourself at some of these places:

  • Kirstenbosch Gardens reduced entry fee for students.
  • The Labia Theatre reduced ticket price for students.
  • iStore discount on laptops and computers for students.
  • Yo Yoga and Virgin Active discounted memberships for students.

pink pig toy

Try House Brand Products

We were all brought up with favourite brands whether it is a specific cleaning detergent, cereal, sugar, coffee, or tea, but is there really a difference? Most house brands contain the exact same ingredients and are even made in the same factory as name brands, but sell for a fraction of the price.

Next time you go to the supermarket give some house brands a try and save yourself a few bucks.

Save on Drinks at Happy Hour

Most bars and restaurants have amazing happy hour specials. Take full advantage by checking out nearby restaurants and bars to find out when they have their happy hour specials. Most restaurants and bars advertise on social media.

You can also check out local clubs for student nights where you can score cheap entry and drinks specials.

Next time your friends want to go out drinking, try these tips to save money and still have fun!

bartender serving two cocktails

Use Cash Instead of Your Card

When you are out and about with friends it can be difficult to keep track of how much you are spending on your card swipes. Use a psychological hack to help reign in your spending and to stick to your budget.

Set yourself a budget for that event/day/activity and take that amount in cash with you. You will easily be able to see how much you have spent, and you won’t unwittingly blow your budget.

Grow Your Own Herbs for Cooking

This is one for the aspiring gardeners and cooks out there. Having fresh herbs not only makes your food taste better, but is a sure way to impress friends and add some aesthetic appeal to a window ledge.

You can buy potted herbs at your local supermarkets or nursery or if you are up for a challenge you can try to grow your own from seeds.

5 different fresh herbs in terracotta potsGet Free (or Cheaper) Parking

Having a car is amazing and is a convenient and cheap way to get around Cape Town until you have to park it that is. Parking in Cape Town is expensive. Most parking garages charge at least R10 an hour, and street parking in town costs over R17 an hour.

Park for free or get significant savings on your parking by using these tips:

  • Street parking in Cape Town, Claremont, and Seapoint is free after 5 pm on weekdays, after 1 pm on Saturdays, and on Sundays (you might just have to tip the car guard).
  • The first 90 minutes parking at Montclare Shopping centre in Claremont is free.
  • Get 60 minutes free parking at Lifestyle on Kloof shopping centre if you buy something at (no matter how small) Woolworths.
  • Try to park in side roads near your destination, you might have to walk a little, but will save some cash.

You can also find student accommodation that includes parking and is located near university transport and public transport (like Nest). This lets you leave your car at home and avoid parking altogether!

Find Affordable Accommodation Near Your Campus

The student accommodation market in Cape Town is difficult to navigate, especially if you don’t know the area you are moving to.

Many people will try and overcharge you for a bad room far away from your campus or leave out hidden costs like utilities, wi-fi, laundry, security, and parking.

Do your research and find student accommodation that includes facilities like wifi, parking, and security near your campus or near to student transport as well as shops and restaurants.

Nest student accommodation building

Are you looking for affordable student accommodation in Cape Town? Nest offers affordable luxury student accommodation (with a list of included facilities) in a great location near several universities and colleges as well as shops and restaurants. Check out their Student accommodation offers now.

Nest Student Accommodation
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