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Keeping up with the cost of living

Keeping up with the cost of living

You will have no doubt noticed lots of information in the news about the rising cost of living. Read on to get some ideas about what you can do to save money.

The cost of living is rising fast and while you may not be able to reduce some of your costs such as your rent, you will be able to make savings in some areas. We have broken these down into the following areas: -

Utility bills

If you are living in purpose-built student accommodation (halls), your utility bills (heating, lighting and water) will normally be included in the rent and the rising cost of fuel will not impact on you at the moment.

If you are in a shared student house and your tenancy says that bills are included, then the landlord must provide this. The exception to this could be if the agreement has a 'cap' on your utility usage. In this case the tenancy will say bills are included up to a certain amount per month or year. For example, it may say 20 per week or a certain number of units of energy. If you go over this amount the landlord may either keep some of your deposit to cover the costs or try to charge you more money. If this happens the landlord will need to provide you with evidence of their additional costs. If you need advice on this, check the links below or get advice from your university.

Looking forward to where you plan to live next year, make sure you check your contract for any extra costs around utility bills before you sign it. Again, ask your university for help if you are unsure.

Food bills

After paying your rent, your food bills are likely to be your second biggest expenditure. You can save money in a few different ways:-

  • Make a list of what you are going to eat, check your cupboards and fridge, make a shopping list and only buy what you need. Check the prices in the supermarket and remember the cheaper options are normally near the bottom of the shelves with the more expensive at eye level.
  • Don't shop at the local mini market near to your student accommodation these are likely to be more expensive.
  • Batch cooking and freezing is always a great money saving tip if you have a freezer, as this will stop you buying ready meals or takeaways (expensive and not healthy).
  • Take a packed lunch to uni with you if possible and if you love hot drinks invest in a decent thermos cup and take a hot drink with you as even doing this a few times per week can save you a lot of money over the year.

Health costs

If you need to take medication on a regular basis it is important you don't stop taking it even if you are struggling with your money. Some people (including students) will qualify for free prescriptions or other healthcare costs (such as dentist) based on having a low income, and you can find out if you qualify on the NHS website (see link below).

If you don't qualify for free healthcare, if you have to pay for more than one prescription item per month on a regular basis, you may find you will be better off paying for prepaid season ticket for any medication you need. See link below for more information.

Travel costs

Make sure you explore the cheapest options to travel in your university town or city. Walk if you can and its safe to do so, as walking is free and good exercise.

Many students cycle to uni and around campus and this is a great option in lots of university towns and cities. You may find your uni has a bike loan/rental scheme as well as bike repairs on campus. Check out the route to make sure it is safe and you know where you are going.

If traveling home for the holidays, make sure you book travel ahead and look for cheaper off-peak train times. Don't forget your student railcard will save you money.

Revisit your budget

If you find your costs are increasing over what you had planned to spend, you should revisit your budget as a matter of urgency before costs get out of hand. Check if you can make any savings elsewhere or increase your income in any way maybe picking up an extra shift in work. Don't forget lots of unis have job shops and you may be able to get a job on campus.

If you need help speak to someone in your university, either in the careers or job shop or in the student support team.

Worrying about money

All universities will have support staff you can talk to in confidence, and most universities have hardship funds you can apply for if you need additional financial support. You are not alone so if you need help you just need to ask.

information about saving money and budgeting
information here about help with prescription costs
lots of money saving ideas

By Lynne Condell - Student Money Advice Specialist

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