Cost of living crisis: 10 ways to cope
The cost of living crisis in the UK has had a huge impact on so many of us. If you’re struggling with money at the moment, here are 20 things you can do to keep up with the rising prices.
With inflation hitting a 40-year high in 2022, keeping up with the cost of living is difficult for people across the country.
It’s never been easy to manage money at uni – hence why Save the Student exists. But this is different. The cost of living crisis is posing financial challenges on a level that we hoped to never see.
Maintenance Loans are increasing by disappointingly little in the 2022/23 academic year. Yet, we know from our National Student Money Surveys that it has already been difficult for many of you to make ends meet, even before prices began to rocket.
10 ways to cope with the cost of living crisis
Here are 10 tips on how to keep up with the rising cost of living:
1. Contact your university about hardship funds
If you’re struggling for money, contact your university immediately. Each uni will have money set aside to help students who are in need of emergency cash. This is known as hardship funding. We explain the key things to know about how to apply, and how much you can receive in our full guide to hardship funds. If you have any questions about it, get in touch with the money advisors at your uni. They will be able to help and point you in the right direction.
2. Ask for a pay rise at your part-time job
As we mentioned earlier, one of the causes of the cost of living crisis is that people’s earnings aren’t generally increasing enough to keep up with inflation. So, if you’ve got a part-time job and haven’t yet had a pay rise this year (or if you have, but only by a small amount) ask your employer if your earnings could increase in line with inflation.
3. Get a heated blanket for winter
As energy bills continue to rise, keeping up with the cost of living over winter will be challenging. To avoid putting the heating on around the house too often, you could buy a heated blanket. It can help you save bills while ensuring you stay warm and comfortable during the cold months. You can usually get a single heated blanket for around £20. By using the blanket instead of putting the radiator on, you should save more than that in bills over winter. If you’re worried about their safety, read Dunelm’s guide on electric blankets. It includes useful advice on how to use and store them safely.
4. Look into scholarships, grants, and bursaries
Alongside Student Finance, see if you’re eligible for extra funding in the forms of scholarships, bursaries, and grants. One example is Disabled Students’ Allowances, which can help students who have a disability, learning difficulty, or health problem. This includes mental, as well as physical, health problems.
5. See if your parents can offer any financial support
Money is tight for many right now, and your parents are likely feeling the pinch too. So, for some, this won’t be an option. However, if you think your parents might be able to offer you a little money, it’s worth asking them. One of the key issues with Maintenance Loans is that they’re based on household income. As a general rule, the more your parents or guardians earn, the less money you’ll receive from Student Finance.
As such, the government calculates loan amounts with the assumption that parents on higher incomes will give their children more money at uni.
6. Sell things you no longer need
Do you have any old belongings that you no longer need or want? You could try selling them to earn a bit of extra cash. It’s possible to make money from selling your childhood toys and old clothes. You can even sell some things that you might otherwise throw away like empty loo roll tubes. We go through loads of ideas in our big guide on things you can make money from selling.
7. Put any spare cash into savings
Due to inflation, any money you have will effectively be worth less now than it did this time a year ago. This is because living costs are higher, so money isn’t going as far as it used to. To try to beat inflation, put any spare cash you have into savings to help it grow. Unfortunately, savings accounts don’t generally have interest rates that match the current rates of inflation. But, any money that you can save will help. If you have any money that you could afford to put away and not use for a while (such as for a year), look into fixed-rate savings accounts.
These tend to have higher interest rates than easy-access accounts. However, if you want to dip into your savings as and when you need to, an easy-access account will likely suit you better. These come with lower interest rates, but give you more freedom to access the money when you need it. To compare fixed-rate and easy-access accounts, see our guide to the best savings accounts.
8. Set a budget
Keeping to a budget can sometimes feel easier said than done, but it makes such a difference when money is tight. You can find our full list of tips in our guide to budgeting at university. But, one approach that can be particularly effective is using an app-based bank account as a second account. Once you’ve calculated how much you can afford to spend each week or month, set up a standing order to send that amount of money to your app-based account. Then, only use that card.
9. Switch to a better student bank account
Finding the best student bank account for you is an important decision. Two of the main things to consider are the overdraft allowances and the sign-up incentives. We’ll start with the overdraft. If you see another student bank account that offers a bigger interest- and fee-free overdraft than your current one, switching to that account could help you get by during the cost of living crisis.
When money gets tight between Student Loan installments, student overdrafts can make such a difference. Use overdrafts carefully. You want the overdraft to be there when you need it, so try to use it sparingly and keep track of how much you’re spending.
10. Bulk buy own-brand food products
It can be tempting to stick with brands you know and love when food shopping. But, by doing a supermarket downshift to only buy food from the store’s budget range, you can save a fair amount of money.
Also, look out for the yellow-sticker items in supermarkets. Even food that’s usually quite expensive can be on sale for less than own-brand food if it’s approaching its sell-by date. Try to get packs that include large quantities of food. Buying food in bulk is usually the best way to save money.