Culture hacks: the ultimate guide to going out and staying in on the cheap

Like free stuff? Of course you do, you’re reading the online version of our student guide. Whether it’s opera or gaming, here are more cash-saving culture hacks

Turn your forward-planning failures into a financial boon

Chronic ditherer? Social butterfly? Lazy sod? You may be perpetually skint but student life at least allows room for spontaneity. Live events keen to fill up unsold seats often court student patrons with substantially discounted rates, such as London’s BFI on the South Bank, where under-25s can access £3 tickets if they rock up 45 mins before the movie starts. Theatres are worth checking out, too: in Edinburgh, the Festival and King’s playhouses offer £10 student tickets from 12noon on the day of performances, while the Bristol Old Vic throws up a last-minute bat signal to local students via its free Arts Ping app.

Avoid paying full whack for new tracks

Spotify users

Music streaming companies aren’t daft (or punks). They know students are a key demographic: time-rich tastemakers who can add some invaluable cachet to their product. That’s probably why Apple Music offers a 50% discount to UK students for up to four years, while Spotify Premium will do the same. If you sign up for Amazon Prime – which offers a desirable six-month student-only free trial – the bundled-in Amazon Prime Music can access more than a million songs, with karaoke-friendly lyrics on its app.

Swap beans on toast for Bizet

Skip the indie disco and Carmen feel the noise: opera is the most grandiose art form ever devised and you will never be able to experience it as cheaply as you can while being a student. The ENO’s Access All Arias scheme offers discounted tickets for performances at the London Coliseum, while a Royal Opera House student membership is free to join and gets you tickets as cheap as a quid. Beyond the Watford Gap, Scottish Opera and Opera North also offer £10 tickets for students. Maybe indulge in some pre-drinking before your Parsifal, though: opera house bars are not bargainous.

When it comes to TV, cross the streams


As of this month, you legally require a TV licence even if you’re just using iPlayer. After that outlay, you’ll want to try to save when it comes to premium streaming. Taking a disciplined approach to free trials – diary those end dates! – is a good way to see which service suits your tastes. Both Netflix and Amazon Prime allow two different streams to be accessed simultaneously from one account, so it might pay to be extra-nice to your flush flatmate. Of the rest, Now TV offers a decent package – 13 pay TV channels and 250 box sets, including Game Of Thrones – that, crucially, is also easy to cancel.

Console yourself with free-to-play gaming

Xbox Scorpio v PS4 Pro: with both Microsoft and Sony recently confirming wallet-melting updates to their consoles it is a pricey time to be a gamer. Thankfully free-to-play gaming is in ruder health than ever, from MOBAs (multiplayer online battle arenas) such as Dota 2 and League Of Legends on PC/Mac, to dreamy arthouse baubles like PS4’s The Tomorrow Children and addictive iPad and Android timekillers such as


Graeme Virtue

The GuardianTramp

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