Skip to content

Now more than ever, we as students need to be more and more careful with how we spend our money. Even with loans and part-time work, the ever-increasing cost of living has put financial pressure on students especially. This may be a worry for some new and prospective students, wondering how to manage finances during university. I would like to share my top three tips for saving money as a student during a cost of living crisis.

Saving Food

The weekly food shop can be one of the most costly daily living expenses if you’re not careful. Many students start university as a first year having never done their own food shop, let alone having to balance a tight budget. As such, many students begin their first year with no idea how to do their shopping, simply buying what is fast and easy. However, these are not always the most price-conscious options, especially with price increases. I have seen first-hand how the cost of living increase has affected my weekly shopping. This meant I needed to start being more intentional with what I bought, including making a weekly meal plan.

Planning out every single meal and snack day by day may seem overwhelming and unnecessary. And it is. As students, our lives are not always predictable so we don’t necessarily know how exactly the week will go. This can lead to some foods going uneaten and getting thrown away when they go bad. Now especially, most students cannot afford to be doing this. Instead, I find it easier to plan:

  • 2-3 cooked, more complex meals (that can have leftovers for lunches)
  • 2-3 easier quick meals for lunches/busy nights
  • Enough breakfasts for every day
  • 2-3 snack items
  • 3-5 fruits and vegetables for snacks and sides to meals

I find this structure works well in that you can plan out enough meals so that you know what you can eat, and you can simply make whichever meal is convenient at the time, saving you from saying “I don’t have time to cook” and getting a takeaway instead.

Saving on Clothes

An important part of starting university is finding your own personal style and way of expressing yourself. For me, I found it very tempting to “reinvent” my style and buy a whole new wardrobe of clothes. As fun as that sounds, this is not a viable option on a student budget. And as costs for everything increase, new clothes become a less urgent need, and more of a fun luxury. Instead, there are more sustainable and low-cost options to revamp your style.

Chester has many wonderful charity shops that are affordable and fun to browse. Not only is this a way to save money, but it is also a cheap day out. Spend the day looking around the many shops around town and find some great new items for a fraction of the cost. And you get the satisfaction of saying “I thrifted this” when someone inevitably asks you where you got something!

Another fun option is to share or swap clothes with your friends. I’m sure you have some clothes in your wardrobe that you almost never wear, but can’t bear to fully part with yet. So why not get a few friends together and bring all the clothes you don’t want any more to swap with each other? This is a great way for everyone to get a few new pieces and also clean out the old, and for free!

Saving on Nights Out

Nights out are a likely inevitable part of your university experience, and they can also be a costly one. It’s easy to fall into a trend of spending £50+ every weekend or student night, but this is not a sustainable choice long-term. Between drinks, entrance tickets, and 3am takeaways, if you spend even £30 per week throughout the academic year, that amounts to over £1,000 over the course of the year! Instead of spending so much on nights out, it is important to set yourself a realistic budget and stick to it. Not only will this save you loads in the long-term, but you will thank yourself the next day when you feel a lot better.

There are also many great student deals throughout town, especially on Wednesday student nights. Keep your eye out for these, and take advantage of them when they come up. You will still be able to have a great time with your new university friends, while having the peace of mind that you are sticking to your budget!

Find out more about cost of living support at the University of Chester. 

Share this content