We have all been guilty of going a bit “Wolf of Wall Street” when our student loan lands in our bank account, splurging on nights out and unnecessary luxuries. But when your rent comes out and the reality of having to eat value noodles for the rest of the term hits, becoming a recluse can seem like your only financial option.

However, if the prospect of living the life of a hermit doesn’t appeal, then don’t fear. With a bit of research and a lot of self-restraint, it is possible to have a social life even when you’re skint. To prove that Leeds can offer something to students on a budget, we set Louise the challenge of spending a week socialising on the cheap.

Monday: Monday could only mean one thing to me, free pool at Elbow Rooms. After a hell of a lot of trash talk thrown back and forth, me and my friend got down to the serious business of settling who was the pool champion. Unfortunately, it was soon clear that I was all talk and no action, losing an embarrassing 5-0. With a seriously deflated ego, I decided to call it a night after five games but still left with smile on my face and the promise of a rematch.

Expenses – 1 gin & cranberry juice

Tuesday: It turns out that skint socialisers like me are spoilt for choice on a Tuesday.  For me and my friend Laura, it was a toss-up between a free comedy night at Verve or Secret Cinema at Crowd of Favours.

In the end the promise of a film and popcorn all for free just edged it. The fact that they were showing Ghostbusters was also a deciding factor, who can resist such a childhood classic! With the showing starting at 7.30pm we enjoyed a few drinks at home before heading into town.

We may have literally been in the cheap seats but in normal circumstances I would have been willing to pay good money for a movie night in the cosy atmosphere and comfy sofas Crowd of Favours provides.

Expenses – 1 pint of coke

Wednesday: Instead of venturing out, I invited the girls around for a night in for what I thought would be a night of wine and gossip. However, after a couple of hours and the boys intruding, it soon descended into an action packed night of all-out war over a Mario cart tournament; much better than the civilised affair I had first imagined.

Expenses – 1 bottle of wine

Thursday: Having lived just around the corner from The West End pub for just over six months, it seemed silly that I had never paid a visit.  After walking past most days, I knew that Thursdays meant pub quiz night and the perfect excuse to try out my local boozer.

I invited along a group of friends to test out our IQ. But even with the combined brain power of four, it turned out our knowledge was mediocre at best. Consoling ourselves with the fact it is the taking part that counts, we decided that we would find somewhere with an easier quiz next time.

Expenses – 1 pint of coke & 1 pint of lager

Friday: This was the most difficult day of the challenge and I really struggled to decide what to do. In the end my activity was a little bit of a cop out as I decided to make the most of my prepaid gym membership. I am not a fan of working on the gym equipment, so chose to take part in a body combat class with my gym buddy instead.  The class consisted of an hour of different punching and kicking sequences, which made everyone look like a character from Tekken. After an hour of exercise I was exhausted but knew that my body, as well as my budget would thank me for it later.

Expenses – N/A

bagsSaturday: By the weekend my itch to shop needed scratching, so me and my housemate Tess set off in search of hidden gems in the cities charity shops. With the high concentration of students in Leeds, charity shops in areas such as Headingley are great places to grab a bargain originally from high street brands.

We hit the charity shop jackpot in Chapel Allerton as sitting proudly in the window was a Louis Vuitton. After enquiring inside, the lovely shop assistant explained that they weren’t allowed to sell fakes and it was only due to some damage that it was a steal at £50.
Although amazingly cheap, it was still way out of my bargain budget but the bag was quickly snapped up by another shopper. I didn’t leave empty handed though, going home with a £3.50 staple white shirt to add to my wardrobe.

Expenses – 1 white shirt

Sunday: Making the most of the unusually hot weather, I went for a walk along the canal by Brewery Wharf. It was whilst walking along the bank that the brand new river taxi went speeding by. A total sucker for the novelty of a boat ride in Leeds, I was instantly excited and headed to the pick up point. The boat decorated in New York taxi colours took me and my equally excited friend on a 10 minute ride from Clarence Dock to Granary Wharf, a route which will now have this free service seven days a week.

To finish my challenge week in style I went along to Brudenell Social Club to enjoy the Texan tones of alternative rock group, Ringo Deathstarr. For me the Brudenell is one of the best live music venues in Leeds and I am always happy to search out new bands in its low key surroundings. It is also a great place to play pool and have a cheap drink through the week. Coincidentally this particular gig was free however, the ticket prices for gigs at this venue are always value for money.
Expenses – 2 pints of lager

After a week of socialising, I was impressed that I had only spent £23.55. If I said it had been easy then I would lying, it was hard to resist everyday temptations and restrict myself to a handful of drinks. However, if you are low on funds and can’t stand the thought of staying in, then Leeds can definitely help you keep your social butterfly status.