Hi there KCL! With all that’s currently going on in the world and the economy nowadays, I know it can be challenging at the moment for us students to afford the cost-of-living. Lots of us feel like our loans, grants and savings aren’t going as far as they once might’ve in the past, and are looking for ways to ease these financial burdens.
Having faced these difficulties a number of times as a student before, and knowing how much it affects not just my university experience but also my overall well-being, I wanted to write this blog to show how we can survive in the cost-of-living crisis today.
Although financial life isn’t the easiest here in London, applying some basic tips has definitely helped me a lot, and here I am sharing with you some crucial information I wish I knew when I moved to London for you to enjoy the city and not have an empty wallet!
- Be smart about food!
Food will be one of my biggest expenses. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to spend less in the supermarket.
To reduce these costs, consider cooking with your housemates, being mindful of your food expenses and utilizing budget-friendly recipes found online.
One strategy is to do a weekly bulk shop and to be mindful of what you buy. This will encourage you to think more about what you’re eating and will help you buy less than you budgeted for. Shopping at the end of the day, when supermarkets often reduce items they can’t sell as fresh tomorrow, can also help save money.
Consider purchasing supermarket-own brands and trying the value option, and buying in bulk. This can help save money as everything is cheaper in larger quantities, as long as you’ll actually use it. Additionally, by teaching myself how to cook, I can save money and spend quality time with my housemates, while also improving my cooking skills.
- Don’t jump straight to buying textbooks
We all know the feeling of considering whether those expensive textbooks are really necessary purchases for us. When it comes to buying textbooks, the cost can be overwhelming. It’s important to remember that not all books on your reading list are essential, and buying them brand new can sometimes be a waste of money. A smart move would be to wait and determine which core texts are truly necessary, and even then consider buying them second-hand from older students.
Additionally, borrowing from the library is always an option. While it might be difficult to find enough copies of key texts in the library, you can always try to request them!
Also, it’s worth noting that there is usually a second-hand market for textbooks, where students who no longer need them can sell them at a lower cost. I’ve often asked our university bookshop (which can guide you in the right direction) or checked online forums to see if any students are selling their textbooks! (Just make sure to check the edition before buying as textbooks do go out of date.)
- Cut your utility costs
This is probably the most obvious sign of the cost-of-living crisis – the bills! Reducing your electricity, heating, and other utility bills could definitely make a HUGE difference at the end of your month.
One tip I have, especially now in the middle of winter, is to limit hot water usage by taking shorter showers. This conserves hot water and definitely lowers your heating bill. Additionally, something I recently started to incorporate would be to start washing your clothes at a lower temperature preventing shrinking AND to reduce the cost of your bills.
In the UK proper insulation is crucial in reducing heating costs. Don’t forget that you can ask your landlord to start investing in draft stoppers or weather stripping to cut down heat loss through drafty windows and doors. This will help lower your heating bill and keep you comfortable without overspending. Lastly (and something I have to remind myself of all the time) remember to also try not to keep the heating on all the time, especially when everyone is out of the house, or sleeping.
Another great way to save on utility bills is to make sure you’re using appliances efficiently. We all love washing machines and dishwashers, but it’s best to only run them when they’re full (and choose the energy-saving option if available!). My last tip about utilities is that you should absolutely unplug electronics when they are not needed, as they can still use electricity even when turned off or in so-called ‘standby mode’.
- Last but not least – where you live!
Many university students face the decision of whether to move out of their family home and into student housing, whether it be on or off campus or to live at home while commuting to university. Both options have their benefits and drawbacks, living on campus can provide a sense of independence and the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the college experience, but can also be expensive. On the other hand, living at home while commuting to the university can save money on rent, but it may limit opportunities for social interaction and involvement on campus. Ultimately, we can give you advice on the costs as Money Mentors, but it’s important for each student to weigh the pros and cons and decide what’s best for you.
I hope this has helped ease your difficulties in the cost-of-living crisis, and the Money Mentors are always here if you need further advice! See you soon!
King’s Student Money Mentor
Part of Money & Housing Advice
The King’s Student Money Mentors blog shares our students’ personal experiences and thoughts on money-related topics. Any reference, opinions or recommendations on a particular company/brand are only the views of the student(s) who wrote the blog post. King’s College London, the Money & Housing Advice service and the Money Mentor project do not share the views in the blogs nor endorse any of the companies mentioned. Readers should conduct their own research before using any companies mentioned in our blog posts.