Here Are the Best Tips for Budgeting and Navigating the Cost of Living Crisis as a University Student

Words: Lottie Murray
Illustrations: Evie Warren
Saturday 23 September 2023
reading time: min, words

Budgeting and finding a part-time job is perhaps one of the most difficult tasks that students face. Most of you will be receiving a lump sum of student loan on a termly basis, which can make it very tricky to manage your money. So, we have crafted a list of some of the best tips for budgeting as a student, as well as some recommendations for financially navigating your new student life…

Evie Warren

Finding part-time work 

As a student, you will find that many of your friends will have part time jobs to help cover living expenses. Job searches can be frustrating but there are various different places you can look for available jobs. A few good places to start searching for jobs which are specifically tailored towards students are Unitemps, UoNSU and NTSU job boards for on-campus roles, and Indeed. 

A good idea is to print out a few copies of your CV and drop them round to different places in the city. They may turn you away and say that they are not currently hiring, but they may admire your confidence and get in touch, or at least keep you on their radar - definitely worth a shot, right?

Quite a few employers choose not to advertise available positions on job boards, so be sure to check company websites for opportunities as well. Good ones to look out for are any companies who want student representatives, such as student letting agent Student Cribs or Virgin Media Broadband, which is a popular option for WiFi in student houses. 

Too Good To Go scheme

Too Good To Go is an initiative which aims to reduce waste produced by restaurants, cafes, and supermarkets. They are champions at “rescuing delicious food” - any leftover produce that is in good condition at the end of the day will be available for you to purchase - oh, and did we mention that they are sold at discounted prices?   

In order to reap the benefits of Too Good to Go, all you need to do is download the app and enter your location so that you can see which places are available near you. Once you have selected the item(s) you want to purchase, then all you need to do is head over to the store and pick up your food. It almost sounds too good to be true!

And for you University of Nottingham students, many of the catering outlets on campus are signed up to the app too, so if you are living in Halls of Residence on campus, then it’s definitely worth having a browse through the UoN spots on the app.

Minimising your food shop spendings

We know it can be super tempting to just nip into your local mini supermarket on your way home, but the price soon adds up, so it is good to get into the habit of going out of your way to do your food shopping at the cheaper supermarkets, even if they’re further away. It is really important to make a shopping list before heading to the supermarket so that you can keep on track and only buy the things you actually need without getting distracted by the paddle boards in the middle aisle of Lidl. Don't worry, we have all been there...

It’s wise to bulk buy household essentials such as toilet roll, cleaning supplies, and dry food to cut back on spending. It's also a great idea to see if your flatmates can all chip in on this, so that you can minimise the cost of items as well as reducing waste at the same time. Supermarkets like Lidl sell one kilogram bags of pasta and rice, so instead of buying a small bag each, everyone in your flat could share. This will work out a lot cheaper, especially in the long run. 

Discounts galore

Who doesn’t love a bargain? As a student, you’re actually entitled to discounts on things such as retail, restaurants, health and fitness, and travel in and around the city. Places to find student discounts include UNIDAYS, TOTUM, Student Beans, and Save the Student.

Make sure to ask for a student ticket when you are travelling on NCTX buses, and student tickets can be purchased for the tram with a valid student ID. There is also a season ticket available for the academic year available at a discounted price. Head to page 33 of this guide for more details on public transport discounts that are available to you.

If you plan to travel by train a lot, it’s well worth getting a 16-25 railcard, which costs £30. But some banks will actually offer you one for free when you sign up to their student account, so definitely keep your eyes out for this! 

Budget friendly student recipes

It can be difficult to get creative with meals when you are on a budget, but there are many different blogs and websites which have curated an accessible list of some fabulous recipes to try which don’t cost an arm and a leg and just might make your life that little bit easier:

Mob (student recipes)
Student Beans (quick student meals for one)
UniFresher (fifty of the best student recipes for university)
Gastro Student (trending student recipes)
Save the Student (easy meal prep for students)

Financial support from your university

Both UoN and NTU have introduced ways to provide students with financial support during their studies. From the student hardship fund to bursaries and scholarships, there are many options which are catered towards different situations you may face as a student. Make sure to check out your university’s website for more information about the different funding and financial support on offer.

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