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Learn how to have fun on a budget
By Kateryna Kadabashy
Being a student is not always easy, especially when you want to have fun on a budget. Although it might seem like mission impossible, there are actually numerous ways to save money as a student here at American University of Sharjah (AUS) and beyond.
First of all, most of us spend a lot of time at university. Which means that we buy most of our meals and beverages on various outlets here at AUS. Although most outlets at the AUS Student Center are budget-friendly, you could end up spending about AED 100 each week on these outlets. So, what to do?
- You could bring your own food with you from home if you are not staying at the AUS Residential Halls. You can heat up your food using the microwaves stationed next to vending machines in each of AUS Colleges.
- Get a portable mug and bring your own coffee/tea from home.
- As for cheaper food options, there are the pastries in the Co-op at the basement of the AUS Student Center.
Another major spending you would face as a student is purchasing books for your courses. At the beginning of every semester, the Community Services at American University of Sharjah organizes a Charity Used Books Sale. This is a golden opportunity to both save money, and help the needy, as all proceeds from the sale are used to fund various AUS Charitable initiatives. You could also donate your own books for the same sale. Additionally, the bookstore buys used books at the start of each semester. For the list of books wanted for sale, check the entrance of the bookstore.
As for shopping, the good news is that you don’t have to completely stop it. Rather, just learn how to be smarter at it. For example, there are specific seasonal sales going around the shops in Dubai and Sharjah. One of them is the Dubai Shopping Festival, which happens every year around December and January. The transition between Spring and Summer is also ripe with sales. Nonetheless, there are outlet shops that provide branded items at discounted prices, such as The Outlet Mall and Brandsforless.
Clothes are not the only thing you will shop for as a student, sometimes you will need new gadgets and electronics. Do not fret, as there is a yearly festival in Dubai where such products are on offers and discounts. Gitex is a week-long festival were different electronic shops and providers display their products with attractive offers and cheaper prices. Moreover, numerous grocery and retail shops provide membership cards that allow you to collect points and provide special benefits. When you collect enough points on these cards, such as Shukran, Carrefour MyClub, and Ikea Family, you will them be able to get special benefits and discounts.
There are also ways to save on restaurants and outings, such as coupons, punch cards, and special offers. My family and I have been using The Entertainer for a few years now. It’s a book of coupons that you have to purchase, where most offers consist of buy one get one free. They work in various restaurants, attractions, services, and more. However, do check the participating outlets before hurrying to purchase the book, as they might not be what you need or like. But there are other alternatives such as Groupon, Cobone, etc.
Punch cards are also popular amongst a number of outlets in the UAE, some of the ones I know myself are Charleys, Costa Coffee, and Yogurberry. Additionally, several restaurants such as Fridays, Texas, and Hardeys, have special lunch offers where there is a separate menu for cheaper prices on weekdays during lunch hours.
Transportation will also be a major expense from now on. Luckily, there are ways you could save on that too. AUS offers transportation service with shuttle services from and to Sharjah, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Al Ain. For more information on timings and locations, check out this link. Additionally, you could always use Dubai Metro for transportation inside of Dubai.
Be sure to also checke the AUS Discount Program. It has a lot of discount offers on a wide variety of services such as hotels, restaurants, car rentals, health centers, salons, shops, theme parks and many more.
At the end of the day, remember that all beginnings are challenging. Learning to manage our money might not be a natural skill we are all born with, but with a little persistence and a lot of trial, anyone can harness it. And we will all be able to have lots of fun on a budget.
Kateryna Kadabashy is a student at American University of Sharjah.
Visit www.aus.edu for more information about American University of Sharjah.