Managing the Cost of Living
As a student, managing living costs can be a real challenge. Between tuition fees, rent, food, textbooks, and other expenses, it can be hard to make your money last and this juggling act has only been made worse by the current cost-of-living crisis. But, there are many practical ways to save money on living costs that can help you stretch your student budget or maintenance loan further.
Create a student budget and stick to it. You need to know where your money is going. Start by tracking your expenses for a few weeks and creating a budget. This will help you see where you can cut back and where you can save money.
Here is an example budget with some budgeting tips:
- Rent - £2000 . Most student rent is split into 3 payments. If your student loan allows, you should put your full rent amount into this savings pot and never touch it until you have to pay rent.
Tip: A lot of accommodation will charge your first payment in August, before your student loan arrives in September! So, you will need this in your savings by summer.
- Deposit - £150 This will only be paid once a year, again before your student loan comes in.
- Food Shopping - £20-30 per week (doesn’t cover takeaways or dinners out)
- To save some money grocery shopping, you should consider buying fruit and veg from the local market, buying shared items like milk, sugar, bread as a flat.
- Batch cooking meal prep is very handy to make sure you have meals ready to go if you need them, it also saves wasting any food.
- Household and personal hygiene products: £20
- Again, try and buy these as a flat, that way you won’t end up with 5 different washing-up liquids.
- Buy a drying rack so you can save on using the tumble dryer - yes, it is more time consuming but worth it!
- Do not buy liquids that cannot go directly in with your clothes. Most student washing machines do not have a pull-out tray to put in fabric softener for example.
- Buy laundry eggs - you wash them with your clothes and they clean just as well as washing tablets and they will last you the whole year!
- Wash your socks and underwear in the sink - you can buy washing liquid specifically for this. It’s just as clean and means you don’t have to wash your clothes every week.
- Set up a separate bank account for savings. Starling is a good example as you can set up your own savings “pots” to separate your savings money from what you can spend - its easy to use and quick to set up. You should set up your bank account before university starts and set your budget when your student loan arrives.
- Use public transport. Ipswich is a town with great transport links. Consider taking a bus or a train instead of driving, as this will save you money on petrol, car maintenance, and parking.
- Cut down on entertainment expenses. Going out to see films or concerts is fun, but it will also be a significant drain on your finances. Try finding free or low-cost alternatives for entertainment occasionally, such as visiting museums or exploring local parks. In Ipswich, we have the lovely Christchurch Park and mansion and Holywells Park, both within walking distance of the campus.
- Look for student discounts. Many businesses offer discounts to students, so make sure to take advantage of these opportunities. Whether it’s a discount on clothing, food, or electronics, every little bit helps. A favourite is Fireaway Pizza restaurant who do a great student discount. Just remember to always have your student ID on you when seeking out discounts, and if in doubt… ask!
Written by Maya Hull and Elliot Martin, students at the University of Suffolk