Navigating the Cost of Living Crisis
The cost of living crisis has been a cause for concern as food, housing, and education costs continue to rise. This is making it progressively harder for university students to budget their money and sustain themselves. Below you will find how I manage my limited financial income and continue to navigate the cost of living crisis.
Disclaimer. What I am sharing here is my own personal opinion of what may help those that belong to the student community. The Student Intranet has further information on this topic, including guidance on maximising your money, cutting costs and planning your spending. Find more information here.
- Create a Budget
I manage my money by creating a budget. I list all my sources of income and expenses on an excel sheet, including tuition fees, accommodation costs, food, transport, and other essential expenses. This provides me with a clear picture of my income and expenses, and allows me to make an informed decision about cutting back on non-essential expenses and prioritising essential experiences.
- Use Student Discounts
When I'm shopping online, I rarely ever pay full price. I take full advantage of student discounts offered by most retailers through the My Uni Days website (www.myunidays.com). When I'm shopping in-person, especially in stores like Boots, Tesco and Lidl, I ensure that I am registered for their reward or loyalty programmes.
- Download Apps
I save on my food expenses when I eat at fast food outlets, such as Subway, KFC, Burger King and Greggs by downloading their Apps. These Apps offer various deals, such as a six-inch sub for £3.50 at Subway or a free hot drink and bake when you download the Greggs app!
- Use Public Transport
There are various ways to get around Cardiff without paying. It is a relatively small city and most places within the city are in close proximity, making it easy and convenient to walk. Cardiff University students have access to the Next Bike scheme, which enables us to borrow a bike free of charge for up to 30 minutes. I really enjoy using this scheme, and it is one of my favourite things about being a student at Cardiff University! More information on the Next Bike program can be found on the Student Intranet at the following link: https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/new-students/settling-in/getting-around. The Cardiff Bus App is also a cost-effective alternative to purchasing a ticket from the bus driver. An all-day return ticket on the app costs £3.80, whereas buying it from the driver costs £4.00. I'm not a frequent train user, but purchasing a rail card can provide you with access to reduced-price train tickets.
- Cook at Home
Eating out regularly is expensive, which is why I batch cook once a week to save money on my food expenses. I use two websites: www.bbcgoodfood.com and www.olivemagazine.com for batch cook recipes. By planning my meals in advance and making a shopping list with only the necessary items, I save money and prevent food waste. The website https://www.toogoodtogo.com/en-gb and https://olioex.com/ are excellent resources for anyone looking to minimise food waste. You can use the platform to either give away your surplus food or obtain someone else's extra food at no cost.
The high cost of living crisis has prompted the Student Union to create an initiative called Feed Your Flat, and Cardiff University Food hosts a Community Dining Supper Club that is completely free! The Chaplaincy also provide £1.00 lunch every Tuesday during term-time. To learn more about these initiatives, you can follow @CardiffStudents, @CUFoods and @CardiffChaplain on Instagram.
- Get a Part-Time Job
Getting a part-time job has helped me earn extra income and supplement my budget. I currently work as a Residence Life Assistant and Wellbeing Champion. As a Residence Life Assistant, I am provided with free accommodation, which has been incredibly helpful during this period of high living costs. If you are interested in finding part-time work within the university, Jobshop is a website where you can search and apply for available positions within the university: https://www.cardiffstudents.com/jobs-skills/jobshop/
To sum up, the cost of living crisis is a significant concern for many university students. Nonetheless, it is still possible to manage your money effectively, optimise your limited financial resources and still enjoy your university experience!
If you're experiencing financial difficulties due to the cost of living crisis, you are not alone. The university provides various provisions for students going through a difficult time. In addition to the guidance on the Intranet, the Student Advice and Money team are also able to provide you with further advice.
Financial worries can also impact your general wellbeing. If you would like to find out more information on looking after your own wellbeing then make sure to visit the Student Intranet to find a wealth of resources to help you manage your emotional, mental and physical health. If you’re not sure where to start, email firstname.lastname@example.org and they can refer you to the service that is right for you.
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