The last two years have been very difficult for everyone, and unless you’ve been hiding under a stone, you won’t have missed that energy prices are due to rocket over 50% for households over the course of 2022. Supply chain issues caused by a combination of the ongoing pandemic and Brexit snagging problems also mean that the prices of food and other basic household goods are also climbing.
It won’t have escaped your notice, however, that your tuition fees are the same, as is your student grant. Just to add to the misery, it’s quite likely that your accommodation costs will have risen too – whether that’s accommodation in Halls of Residence, or in a private student rental.
It’s more important than ever for a student to budget, and even look for extra sources of income over the course of their studies. The winter and early spring are always the most difficult in terms of cash flow, as the weather bites and when the bills inevitably start to trickle in.
Here are some tips to help you through:
- Put your bills on direct debit – utility providers tend to offer better deals and tariffs to customers who pay by direct debit. It’s also much easier to budget if you know that a fixed amount is leaving your bank account each month.
- Internet or 5G? – with most major cities now having an excellent 5G connection (and a lot of mobile phone providers offering reasonably-priced all-you-can-eat data packages) it might be worth checking whether your data connection is stable in your student house before you pay for an extra internet connection; tethering your laptop to your phone may work out significantly cheaper, and even prove to be more stable than an internet provider’s ‘basic’ package.
- Get a ‘smart’ job – a part-time job that works for you isn’t necessarily going to be the best paid work available. If you can get a retail job offering a staff discount, or with benefits such as subsidised gym memberships or other payments in kind which will stretch your budget, this will win out over bar work (there are only so many free pints you can drink in one evening, and they don’t keep you that warm!).
- Spend to save – not all spending is frivolous; if you have room in your student house, make two kitchen purchases to help stretch your food budget – a slow cooker, and a small chest freezer. Buy in bulk and batch cook meals to keep in the freezer. Also, do your shopping after 5pm if possible, when the yellow sticker items find themselves in the reduced to clear section in the chiller cabinet at the supermarket.
- Don’t cancel Netflix! – rather than being the extravagance that could stop you getting on the property ladder by your 21st birthday (if you believe what you read in the papers!), a night in with Netflix with your housemates represents a huge saving over a night in the pub. Even one film night or box set binge a month is going to represent a huge saving.
If you do get into financial difficulties, please don’t try to struggle through, as this will affect both your studies and your longer term physical and mental health – contact your student welfare officer, as there may be hardship payments they can make available to you.