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Cost of Living Impact - Tips & Advice

Inflation and the rising cost of living

The UK is currently experiencing a high increase in the cost of living, including food, gas, and electricity amongst other things. We want to provide you with as much advice and support to minimise the impact this will have on you and enable you to access support if needed. Below are some tips, advice and information to help you manage your money the best you can and take advantage of where there may be reduced costs:

We're lucky to have a limited number of jobs available on campus for students to apply to and gain valuable skills for the workplace. Keep a look out for opportunities as they arise throughout the year and speak to someone in our Careers Service about current work opportunities here. 

 

  • If you live on campus, utilise the meal plan. If you know you are going to miss dinner, or you miss breakfast but go to the Refectory later in the day, use those points to purchase additional snacks/sandwiches that you can eat at another time, instead of losing the points when they re-set overnight. 
  • If you live in the private sector, plan you meals in advance, shop in bulk and try to be as strict as you can and not divert from your shopping list. You will spend more money buying food daily than if you were to plan in advance. If you do end up purchasing food on the day, look in the reduced section for some great deals.
  • Buy supermarket own brands, rather than the big named brands. The majority of the supermarket own brands are the same as the big branded items but are drastically cheaper. 
  • If you shop at the same supermarket regularly, get one of their loyalty cards (or the equivalent) and utilise the special offers if it is on a product you need. 
  • Test your cooking skills, or learn some new ones! A student cookbook will provide low cost, nutritional recipes, saving you money on takeaway's. The Student Reciptes website is a good place to start. 

Additional Resources

  • Supermarket shopping tips from the Money Saving Expert
  • 55 ways to save money on food from Save the Student!
  • Nosh for students on Amazon
  • Too good to go, mobile app - Did you know our Refectory uses the too good to go app? This app allows you to find local food retailers/restaurants that are selling their food at a significantly reduced price to save them wasting it, just like the reduced section of your local supermarket

 

Energy costs have risen and some may find it hard to meet those additional costs. Here's some tips that could help:

  • See if you qualify for the Government's warm home discount scheme, which could see you receive a discount on your energy bills between October and March 
  • Only use the heating when you need to. Make use of the timer function and set it to reflect the times you most need it so that you are wasting having it on while you aren't there. If you have a landlord, ask them to make sure the property is as draught free as possible - they can draught proof areas where energy may be escaping. 
  • Turn plug sockets off for appliances or technology equipment when you aren't using them. Things such as kettles, phone chargers, laptops will all be using energy while they are plugged into a socket that is turned on, even if the apliances/items themselves aren't being used.
  • Avoid electric heaters as they are one of the most expensive forms of heating and make sure to turn lights off when you don't need them on. 

Additional Resources (you may need to speak to your landlord about some of these suggestions)

 

Commuting to university can be expensive, especially if you are travelling from afar. Here are some tips on how you could save on some of these commuting and travel costs, going into London or exploring the UK:

  • If you know you are going on a trip, booking travel arrangements early can save costs. Did you know you can normally book train tickets up to ten weeks in advance?!
  • If you are going to be making a return journey, before booking a return ticket, check what the price would be for two singles, there and back. Sometimes, this can work out the cheaper option. 
  • If you are going to be using the train a lot, look at getting a railcard (see below) which can save you up to a third on train costs. 
  • Where you can, travel off-peak to utilise the cheaper tickets.
  • Cycling is a cheap, environmentally friendly way to travel! If you only live a few miles from campus, why not consider cycling - as long as you can get hold of a bike lock, helmet and lights if you are cycling during the evenings, this could be a really cost-effective way to travel. 
  • If you are driving, look at where the more affordable fuel is being sold both near to the campus and your home. 

Useful links:

  • National rail cards - this includes the 16-25 card, the 26-30 card and the Disabled Persons Railcard
  • TrainlineMegabus and Raileasy - here there are options to search for the cheapest tickets available for your intended journey 

 

 

  • Check to see if you are entitled to free treatments or prescriptions on the NHS website
  • If you know you will have to get ongoing repeat prescriptions, it may be cheaper to purchase a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC). This is described as a prescription season ticket as it covers all your NHS prescriptions, including dental prescriptions, no matter how many items you need during your PPC. You can purchase a three or twelve month PPC, depending on your personal needs. 

 

 

Being social and maintaining contact with friends and family is a really important component in maintaining our overall wellbeing. However, if you are going out regularly, this can be costly. See some tips below on how to keep an active social life, whilst being mindful of your spending:

  • St Mary's has a beautiful campus and surroundings, including Bushy Park, Richmond Park and Hampton Court to name a few. Meeting someone for a walk is a great way to socialise, improve your wellbeing by surrounding yourself in nature and getting some exercise. 
  • Take advantage of student discounts! By signing up for a TOTUM card, you will receive discounts on restaurants, travel, fashion, entertainment and more!
  • UNiDAYS is a discount website that is free for students to use across the world. 
  • Sport and doing physical activity is a great way to meet people, socialise and look after your physical and mental wellbeing. Sport's St Mary's have frozen the price on joining their sport's clubs, which also includes a gym membership. They have also introduced the option to pay for a gym membership across the year to make it more affordable. 
  • The SU run lot's of affordable events where you can make friends and socialise. See their events page for more information.