1 March 2023

The Cost-of-Living Crisis: What can you do?

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Are you worried about the cost-of-living crisis? According to The Money Charity, 78% of students say ‘finance fears’ are affecting their studies.

So if you have money worries right now, you’re not alone.

Here are 5 tips and tricks to help ease your concerns around your finances at university…


A budget is a plan to help you gain more control and visibility over your finances.

You can create one on a spreadsheet, on a bit of paper or via an online budgeting service.

  • Write down a list of your most common expenses, things like food, rent, energy bills, nights out and subscriptions
  • Create goals for how much you want to spend on each area month to month. And focus on staying within the budget plan
  • Apps like Starling Bank and Monzo are great in helping you calculate your weekly budget. They group all your purchases into categories and send you real-time push notifications when you’re heading over.

Can your university help?

Does your university offer bursaries or grants to students in need of financial aid?

Not all institutions will, but it’s best to check. You never know what help you could qualify for. Your university website will also have key information and resources regarding financial wellbeing.

They might even be able to set you up with a financial professional to advise you. Or just offer some form of consultancy support.

Hardship funds

Hardship funds are emergency cash supplies that universities provide to students who are going through extreme financial difficulty. Not everyone will be eligible for funding. So if you want to meet the criteria, you’ll need:

  • To be an undergraduate student
  • A UK resident
  • Unable to cover your living costs, like food and rent
  • Have applied for the maximum maintenance loan
  • Have a low household income threshold – this will vary by university.

How much do you get?

The amount you receive depends on what’s causing the hardship.

If your situation is temporary and can be resolved with a one-off payment, you’re unlikely to receive more. Should you qualify, you can expect to be paid anything from £100 to a few thousand pounds.

To apply for the hardship fund, visit your university website directly. If you’re struggling to find this information, speak to someone from your students’ union team. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

Remember, each university will have its own process. Often, you’ll be asked to show a bank statement as proof of funds. So make sure you have one handy.

Look after your mental health

Worrying about money can adversely affect your mental health.

In fact, Nationwide Building Society reported that 60% of students suffer from anxiety over their finances. This is a really important point. While you are keeping an eye on your bank account, you must also stay conscious of your mental wellbeing.

And if you think your mental health is declining as a result of the cost-of-living crisis, consider taking one of the following steps…

  • Talk to a friend or your family and be honest about how you’re feeling. Talking has uncommonly powerful effects
  • Explore your university’s mental health services
  • Try meditation – Calm and Headspace both offer FREE trials.

You can also read our blog Mental Health: Taking Care of Yourself.

How to save money

As much as it’s important to budget, saving money is crucial too. Whether it’s through discounts or second-hand material, the more you save, the more you’ll have to spend.

Student discounts

Consider getting a TOTUM student card for literally hundreds of reductions and discounts.

Your student card (or student ID) will also qualify you for discounts in supermarkets, clothes stores, tech outlets and pharmacies.

When you get to the till, just ask if the shop has a student discount. And if they don’t, vacate the premises in a dramatic fashion.

Want a healthy meal? But short on time to shop around? Try Hello Fresh. You’ll get delicious recipes made from fresh ingredients delivered straight to your door. As a student, you can get 65% off for your first box, then 30% off for two months. With your TOTUM card.

Second-hand course books

Course textbooks and materials can sometimes be SUPER expensive. So use your university library where possible. You could also explore local libraries.

Most universities have a second-hand textbook market, where students trade in their old reading materials when they no longer need them.

Alternative ways of making money

Don’t sell your kidney. It’s not easy to buy it back.

And there are ways to increase your income without stealing, swindling, embezzling, betting, pilfering, looting or good-natured double-crossing. No matter the attraction.

Here are some alternative ways of making money at university…

Become a brand ambassador

Brand Ambassadors represent an employer brand on-campus. They balance their work around lectures, seminars and coursework.

As a brand ambassador, you’ll get paid up to £10 an hour working for employers like the NHS, J.P. Morgan, AstraZeneca and Vodafone.

You’ll have lots of networking opportunities too, building positive relationships with colleagues. Who knows, you might even land yourself a permanent role with your employer after graduation!

Work for your university

Many universities pay students approximately £10 per hour to do jobs like:

  • Carry out surveys on behalf of the university
  • Contact alumni for donations
  • Increase awareness of university initiatives.

Again, you can fit this work between your studies and social life.

Part-time delivery rider

If you have a bicycle, or tricycle, you could work as a part-time delivery rider for Uber Eats or Deliveroo. It’s really flexible. You only work when you want to. And fit your hours around your degree. So you can divide your time accordingly.

Delivery riders earn roughly between £8.50 – £12 per hour, not including tips.

Quite a treat, right?

Whatever you’re going through, please don’t bottle it in. Talk to someone about it. Get the help you need. Remember, the sooner you address your worries, the better you’ll feel.