University is a time for growth, exploration, and independence. It is also a time of financial stress for many students. Our research shows that throughout Covid students financial stress was felt by about 75% of students – now with the cost of living in the UK increasing dramatically (food has 20% inflation!!) that number is climbing and it’s becoming even more difficult for students to make their money stretch far enough.
This is where budgeting becomes crucial – only by knowing where your money is going can you know how much you have left. No one likes the idea of budgeting – spreadsheet hell right? – but if you can budget better you can make more thoughtful financial decisions. But there are also other things you can do right now to make sure you have a bit more cash in your pocket!
Here are five ways you can make your money stretch during a cost of living crisis!
Create a budget
One of the most important steps to making your money stretch is creating a budget. Budgeting is a matter of looking at all the money going out the money coming in and all and seeing what happens when you subtract the first from the second.
By listing all your income sources and expenses you can spot areas where they can cut back (but also where you might be able to make more) and this insight can help you create a better plan to make sure you don’t run out before your next loan drops.
If you would prefer the technology does the heavy lifting for you you can check out the Blackbullion budgeting tool and also the brand new spending snapshot which will give you an idea of how other students are using their money and where you might be able to make easy changes.
Cook at home
Cooking at home is a great way to save money.
Eating out can be expensive and often, not as healthy as homemade meals. Buying ingredients instead of meals can be better for the environment, better for your pocket and better for your mental and physical health.
During the cost of living crisis a lot of students are skipping meals – while we can understand the motivation this is NOT a good way to save money. If you don’t provide your body and brain with nutrition you are less likely to perform and more likely to get sick. These are both very expensive outcomes.
If you don’t know how to cook check out the easy recipes on YouTube, Instagram and Tik Tok and if you are worried about the price of food check out apps like Olio and TooGoodToGo which are both fighting waste and saving people money.
A reason we are such budgeting fans is that budgeting helps you spot where you are spending money so you can consider cheaper ways of getting what you need. There are definitely ways of shopping smarter.
You can look for deals, coupons, buying in bulk. And there are also loads of offers and discounts available only for students.
Take advantage of these opportunities – from restaurants to clothing stores to tech and gadgets you can save a significant amount of money by using their student ID.
And don’t forget purchasing second-hand, vintage and on items you don’t use often there is also rental and the circular economy.
Consider alternative transportation
Transportation can be a significant expense, especially if you are visiting family and friends in other cities (or countries even!). If you are doing long distance travel – planes and trains – the earlier you book the cheaper (usually!) the trip will be. And don’t forget to use your student card.
For general and more regular travel you can save money by using public transport like buses, trains, or tubes, especially at off peak time and using your student card. Walking or biking or using scooters – don’t forget a helmet! – especially for shorter distances, can also be an affordable and healthy alternative – and it’s better for the environment.
If you are using cabs or ride-sharing apps like Uber hunt around for discounts, promo codes or first-time user discounts.
Apply for Scholarships
Applying for scholarships and other funds can be an effective way to get your hands on some extra cash.
Likely your university, not to mention charities, companies and other organisations offer scholarships to support students with living expenses, and other costs.
You can apply for these directly with your university or look for other funds at The Scholarship Hub (make sure you sign up to the newsletter which announces new funds before they are made public!)
It is important to research and apply for scholarships and funds that are relevant to their academic and personal achievements, as well as their financial needs.
Set aside a few hours so you can put in a decent chunk of time and effort into apply for these opportunities, the potential financial rewards can be significant and can help alleviate financial stress during their studies. But you probably aren’t the only one who thinks so!