Becoming a university student is a new and exciting adventure, especially for international students. We must become more independent and take on more responsibility, which also means managing our own finances. For me, the most challenging part of becoming independent initially was making adjustments to my lifestyle due to the cost of living crisis. Here are my tips which will help you save money as a university student.

1. Rethink what I spend my money on

The cost of living crisis has influenced various aspects of my life as a student, from basic expenses for grocery shopping and self-care, to choices of where and how I shop. With the prices going up, I have had to rethink my expenses, such as my skincare, and whether I want to buy high-end or more affordable products which do not break the bank.

2. Cut food costs

One of the most significant adjustments I’ve made to my lifestyle has been my approach to food shopping. Before, I would only do my shopping at Tesco because it was close to Colchester campus and saved me time, but now I shop around to find the lowest prices and best deals on the products I need. From groceries to toiletries, I have learned to prioritise value over familiarity, constantly seeking out bargains and discounts to stretch my limited budget further, and sometimes finding something new which I love along the way.

3. Make a budget

I have discovered several ways to ease the financial strain and save money. Creating a detailed budget that distinguishes between fixed and variable expenses each month has been invaluable in identifying areas where I can cut back without sacrificing essential comforts. There are many apps to help with this such as Emma, you can make a spreadsheet, or you can keep the information in the notes app on your phone.

4. Save money where I can

One tip on how to save money is to invest in a student railcard. It only costs £30 per year while you are a student, and you save a lot more if you travel regularly. Another great way to save money is cooking at home, meal prepping and batch cooking. This has become my saving miracle, offering a healthier and more economical alternative to ordering takeaways or dining out. By purchasing groceries in bulk for the entire week and taking advantage of discounts and bargain buys (check out the reduced section in the supermarket!), I have managed to significantly reduce my food expenses without compromising on taste or nutrition.

5. Get a part-time job

Working part-time is also a practical necessity in the face of escalating living costs, allowing you to make some extra money. Working while being a full-time student can be challenging, but the University of Essex recognises the importance of supporting students in their pursuit of financial stability, as well as giving them the opportunity to get valuable work experience. With the flexible timetables provided by the university and a variety of job opportunities such as working at the SU shop, being a Student Ambassador or a Frontrunner, finding employment that complements my studies has been simple.

6. Live on campus

If you live on campus, the accommodation cost includes all utility bills, high speed internet, contents insurance, gym membership, 24/7 security and wellbeing support. This way, the university strives to create a positive environment where students can thrive without being weighed down by extra financial worries. You also save on commuting to campus, which is an added bonus.

Find out how the University of Essex supports its students