Wednesday, 14 January 2015

30 Ways to Stay Entertained on a Student Budget

Not Completely Broke - Win!
Image courtesy of

The savings from your summer job have likely been exhausted over the winter break, but fear not – YouAlberta is here to help! I’ve been a student for many years and have found that my bank account has left a lot to be desired on a few occasions. So below are some of the great ways I’ve been able to have fun without breaking the bank,- P.S. many of them are actually FREE!

As much of a Movie Lover as I am? Catch a flick for cheap!

Movie Lovers
Image courtesy of

1.  Metro Cinema. Not only is it close to campus (handy!) but they host some pretty cool events at some even cooler prices. My personal favourites are the Science in the Cinema events because they’re free and I’m a nerd (the next movie 50/50 is actually on January 15th) but I should mention that they host many other awesome (and free) events too.

2.  Sign up for a free Scene card from Cineplex and enjoy Tuesday’s 10% off movie night on Tuesdays and you also get points towards a free movie with the card. Better yet, go to InfoLink and get your tickets for just $8.50 (Hint: they also make great gifts!).

3.  Not to be left out, Landmark Cinemas has their deals too. Along with a cheap Tuesday night they also have an awesome student combo deal. For $16 you get a ticket, medium drink, and medium popcorn for any day of the week!

4.  If you’re willing to travel. Cinema Movies 12 (close to Belvedere station) also has cheap movies on Tuesdays... they’re actually only $2.25!

5.  Forget cable get Netflix. While cable can run you $20-60 dollars Netflix is a measly $8/ month. Just be aware of the Netprocrastinateflix syndrome.

A fan of the Arts and Drama scene? Here how to stayed cultured without over-drafting your savings account.

Live Theatre Meme
Original image of the Timms Centre courtesy of the Timms Centre... makes sense.

6.  Clear your every evening on last Thursday of the month! The Alberta Art Gallery’s Servus Community Access Night gives everyone the chance to see the artwork for free! It’s held on the last Thursday of each month from 6-9pm so don’t miss it.

7. Want to stay closer to campus? You can check out some of the exhibits at the Fine Art Building Gallery which showcases new U of A student art. I’ve been blown away many times by the work done by the students here.

8.  Have you heard about the Paleontology Museum in Earth Sciences? What about the Human Ecology Gallery? There are quite a few museums located right on campus to check out. All of which are free (although donations are graciously accepted should you have some extra coin in your pocket).

9.  Love the Citadel’s plays but not their ticket prices? They host a pay-what-you-can Sunday about once a month where you can see a play at the price you can afford. Just make sure you show up early enough to get a ticket.

10.  A thespian at heart? Check out Shakespeare in the Park. Usually held in Hawrelak Park in the summer, this is a great chance to watch a Shakespearean play on a beautiful summer afternoon or evening. Not only that but every Sunday is free for students, plus they have pay-what-you-can performances and other great offers! Doesn’t get any better than that!

11.  And don’t miss out on the local U of A talent! Studio Theatre  puts on a new play just about every month of the semester and with your ONEcard you can score a great deal on your ticket too!

12.  I am a huge fan of improv theatre and have been an avid attendee of Rapid Fire Theatre for many years. Check them out Friday and Saturday and the occasional Thursday nights for a measely $13. My personal fave is Theatresports Fridays, I just love a good comedic competition!

13.  Don’t forget to head to the Dinwoodie Lounge... for comedy nights, concerts, and movie nights!

14.  The Vue's Weekly Arts Listings are a great resource on local shows and concerts throughout Edmonton. I also like to hop on the Tix on the Squares page to see what’s playing on the weekends. Or I'll visit InfoLink's "Tickets Currently On Sale" page to see if there's anything interesting happening on campus.

Fitness and Sports Central. Staying Fit and Having Fun!

Guba Selfie

15.  Too cold for a run in the river valley but gym memberships are too expensive or lock you into a formidable contract? Check out the U of A’s Recreation Services for tons of classes you can take for a much cheaper price and at a very convenient location. They range from swimming classes to intramurals to yoga- Something for everyone!

16.  Rec Services also has a cool new(-ish) program called Live Well. There’s free classes for U of A students (including efficient fitness for the busy student- how handy with midterm season just around the corner), nutritional advice, a workout buddies program, and much more! 

17.  A fan of skating? You can go for free at various rinks around the city! Just check out the schedule for the public skating times.

18.  Enjoy a Panda or Golden Bears regular season home game for free with your ONEcard! You’ll get to show your U of A team spirit with your fellow U of A comrades.

19.  Want to catch an Edmonton Eskimos game for a fraction of the cost? Get your ticket at InfoLink or at the game for only $26!

20.  Can’t get enough hockey but can’t afford an Oiler’s game? Check out Edmonton’s WHL team the Oil Kings for as low as $18! Plus with your U-Pass it’s super easy to get to and from the games.

Try New Things! Classes, Groupons, Festivals Oh My!

Keep Calm and Try New Things
Image courtesy of the Keep Calm O-Matic

21.  If you’re new to cooking or are looking to learn some new dishes check out the classes put on by President’s Choice Cooking School. The cost is $10 but you usually recoup that by getting a $10 gift certificate for Superstore.

22.  The U of A’s Alumni Association is constantly putting on events that for the whole community (and not exclusively for graduated students), many of which are free! In fact they are hosting a Green and Glow Winterfest January 29-31st which you should definitely check out.

23.  Have a bit of extra time you don’t know what to do with? Try volunteering! It’s rewarding, you get to meet like-minded people, makes you feel good, and looks great on a resume! There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer around campus and Edmonton, you just need to look around and pick something that interests you. Find your perfect fit on InfoLink’s Volunteer Registry or check out the poster boards every once in a while.

24.  Of course there are also tons of clubs and organizations on campus you can join that host their own events and meetings. This is a great way to meet people who share common interests and you can make more friends. Go to BearsDen to see what group sparks your interest… or hey, you can even talk to Student Group Services about starting your own new group!

25.  Groupon has also been a great way for me to try new things at a fraction of the cost. I’ve been able to try new restaurants, horseback riding, mini golf, go for massages, wine tastings, and other cool things thanks to Groupon. Just make sure you research the place beforehand to get an idea of it!

26.  Love to read? You can turn your ONEcard into an Edmonton Public Library (EPL) card easily and for free and get access to more books. EPL also has some cool programs and events that you can check out too!

27.  There are many festivals and events going on around Edmonton that you should check out. Some of my personal favourites are the Fringe Festival, Candy Cane Lane, and Taste of Edmonton. If you want to stay in the loop just check out the City of Edmonton’s events page.

28.  Many local pubs host events as well. One of my favourites is Musical Bingo Mondays at the Druid where I can play a free game with my friends, win some prizes, and drink cheap beer! Check out what your local pub has to offer!

29.  If you want to stay on campus, you can enjoy Monday Night Football at RATT. (

30.  And of course if you’re in the mood to stay in you can invite friends over for drinks and games. Definitely cheaper thank drinks at a pub or club.

So now that I have passed on my years of experience to you, do your fellow classmates a favour and share your tips in the comments below!

About the Author


Hi, my name is Shannon and I’m here to provide you with a YouAlberta graduate student perspective. I am currently in the last year of my degree and have (quite) a few years of experience on the U of A campus as both an undergrad and graduate student.
I am excited to show off our student experience both here at the U of A and in the broader Edmonton community. We have a dynamic campus culture full of events, groups, and just day to day awesomeness. My passions include science and getting others involved in science related activities, volleyball, hiking, and camping. I’m also full of tips on how to have fun on a student budget. Over the next year I hope I can show you how to make the most of your U of A experience because there’s so much more to school than classes and expensive textbooks!


1 comment

  1. What a great list - thanks for putting all this amazing info in one place for easy access!

    Also add - reasonably priced movies and live theater at Fort Edmonton Park - Enjoy!


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