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Cost of living – Bath Spa University

Concerned about budgeting as a student? We’ve put together a range of information and advice to help you navigate the costs of living and feel more in control of your money.

University can sometimes bring new or unexpected financial challenges; you may be managing your finances for the first time, or balancing work or caring responsibilities alongside your studies.

You’ve probably heard a lot about the cost of living crisis, which can make managing your money feel a little daunting. While it’s true that prices are rising, there are services and support available within the University and many other things you can do to help feel in control of your money.

University support

University Access Fund

You may be able to access help through the University Access Fund if you're in financial hardship. You can find more information including the application form on the Funding pages.

Short-Term Loan Scheme

Where there are delays to your funding being paid, you may be able to access a small short-term loan from the University. You can find more information on this on the Funding pages.

Food larders

The University has food larders available to students, located in the laundry rooms in Sophia building and Langton on Newton Park Campus. The larders are stocked with non-perishable goods such as tinned foods, pasta and rice, and are available to any student in need of food.

Careers service

Many students work alongside studying to subsidise their income. The careers team is available to support students with finding employment, you can access the JobShop through MyCareer.

Wellbeing Advice appointments

Any student with concerns about cost of living can book a Wellbeing Advice Appointment. Wellbeing Advisors can talk to you about your financial situation, any support you may be able to access, and help you to plan a budget.

Library and Learning Services

The Newton Park Library provides long opening hours and a welcoming environment with a variety of study spaces to suit all students. We offer free borrowing from our extensive physical and digital library and charge no fines if anything is overdue (only if someone else has requested the item and you do not bring it back when asked).

Our Wellbeing Collection includes a number of titles on cooking on a budget and managing your money which are available in the Quiet Space in Main House or online.

Free sanitary products

The University has installed 28 vending machines across Newton Park, Locksbrook and London campuses dispensing free, sustainable period products. We are working to end period poverty at our university and remove the single-use plastic associated with periods. Key toilets across our campuses will have these vending machines installed, featuring bamboo tampons and bamboo pads with plant-based packaging.

Low cost hot meals

The University has opened the 'Student Eats' counter at the Refectory, which allows students to buy a hot meal and drink for just £3. The deal is also available every day at Locksbrook Cafe and Sion Hill from lunchtime.

The Students' Union serves £1 soup, Monday to Friday.

Students can get free hot meals at Foodcycle Bath and make use of the Bath Foodbank.

Budgeting

Creating a budget

Creating a budget as early as possible can help you to stay in control of your finances and promote positive financial wellbeing. You can find useful tips on how to budget on websites such as Money Saving Expert and Save the Student.

Student Wellbeing Services have also created a simple budget planner (.pdf) you can use to map out your income and expenditure. To get help with writing your budget planner, book a Wellbeing Advice Appointment.

Part-time work

Working part-time alongside your course can help to give you more financial stability and allow you to meet your living costs. The University Careers service can support you to find work that fits around your studies and give advice and guidance on applying for jobs.

You can access the job shop through the MyCareer service, where you can find job opportunities including those on campus.

Travel

Paying for travel is sometimes a significant expense while at university, whether you’re commuting to campus or travelling home to see family or friends.

Student Railcards

By purchasing a 16-25 railcard, you'll get a third off train travel, with an average saving of £159 a year. Mature students are also eligible, so don’t worry if you’re older than 25. Make sure you always carry your railcard with you on train journeys, as you’ll be asked to pay the full adult ticket price if you can’t produce it. 

Petrol and diesel

Cars are a really convenient way of travelling, but the current prices of petrol and diesel can eat into your budget. Make sure you know where your cheapest petrol station is, and make the most of loyalty systems such as Nectar points to get money off. You can also car-share with friends and course mates to reduce the cost and help the environment.

If you’re bringing your car with you to university, make sure you know if you’re able to access parking – it might be better to leave it at home.

Megabus

If you’re travelling across the country to visit friends at other universities or to go home, a great option is the Megabus. Megabus travels to 90 locations, including airports, and you can bag yourself a journey for just £1! You can also use your TOTUM student card to get a discount.

Student bus tickets

Using public buses is a great way of travelling in and around Bath and First Bus offers student fares to make things a bit easier. You can even purchase a weekly, monthly or yearly pass depending on your requirements.

Split train tickets

Another way to cut the cost of your train ticket is to split your ticket. For example, if you’re travelling from Bath to Liverpool and the train stops at Birmingham on the way, you could save money by buying a ticket from Bath to Birmingham and then another ticket from Birmingham to Liverpool.

Money Saving Expert has more information about the process and tips on how to purchase your tickets online.

Utility bills

Spending money on gas and electricity is essential, but there are ways to ensure you’re making savings where you can. Energy Saving Trust have compiled a list of helpful tips.

The British Gas Energy Trust is an independent charitable trust established to support people who are struggling to pay their bills. They offer support no matter which energy company you’re with.

Many broadband providers offer great deals for new customers, but when these come to an end, your monthly tariff could increase massively. Money Saving Expert has advice on how to negotiate your broadband deal so you’re not paying sky high prices.

Food and groceries

Your weekly food budget doesn’t have to leave you out of pocket. Developing good habits at university could stand you in good stead for later life.

Shop in cheaper supermarkets

Pick where you shop carefully. You’ll make some serious savings by shopping in cheaper supermarkets – rather than higher-end ones – while you’re studying.

Explore price comparison websites such as Which or speak to your housemates about any low cost gems they’re aware of.

Write a shopping list

By writing a list before you go shopping, you know exactly what you’ve already got in the fridge, freezer and cupboards and what you still need. This limits food waste as well as overspending.

Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry

You’ll be tempted to buy more food than if you shop when you’ve already eaten, because you’ll be thinking with your stomach rather than with your head. Make sure you have a snack before you go shopping. This will also reduce the likelihood of spending money on snacks at the till to keep you going until you’re home.

Share supermarket delivery with flatmates

Delivery services can be handy, particularly if you live on campus, but they can add to your total bill. If you do your food order along with your flatmates, you’ll all share the cost of delivery.

Meal prep and batch cooking

When you’re writing your shopping list, make a plan of the meals you’re going to have that week. Being organised in this way will limit any impulse-buys when you’re wondering what to have for dinner. Plus, you can cook in batches and use extra portions for lunches or stick them in the freezer for another day.

Buy own brand

Big brand names often come with big brand prices. Every supermarket does its own, cheaper version of a huge variety of foods. Next time you’re after your favourite ice cream or sauce, try the supermarket’s own brand version.

Always carry a bag for life/reusable bag with you

A simple but effective way of saving the pennies. Buying two reusable bags a week could be costing you £19 a year. Take your own bags shopping with you to cut the cost and help the environment.

Buy canned

Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious but are cheaper and last longer.

Take away the takeaways

They may be delicious and convenient, but the price of one takeaway (main, side, drink and delivery) could be the same as half of your weekly food shop, if not more. Save these for special occasions and even then, make the most of student discounts and other special offers.

Try your local market or greengrocers

Local markets and greengrocers tend to be cheaper than supermarkets, and the produce is much more organic and fresh. So while you’re buying some delicious apples and peppers, you’re supporting a local business and helping the environment.

Shop seasonally

Out of season foods are pricier due to shipping and storing expenses – not the case when you eat fruits and vegetables that are in season. This chart from Eat Seasonably shows which foods are in season during which months. They’re also tastier because they haven’t been preserved for shipping.

Get organised

Taking your lunch and snacks for the day to campus will save you big when you start to get peckish. Bring leftovers from last night’s dinner in a tupperware and a couple of snacks to keep you going for the day.

Buy a reusable coffee cup

If you need a coffee to get you through your 9am lecture, why not make your own at home and bring it in a reusable cup? There are also hot water points around campus to make your own drinks throughout the day.

If you really can’t give up your café coffee, then many coffee shops offer their drinks at a discount to those who bring their own cup.

Buy a reusable water bottle

Cut the plastic and save yourself a couple of pounds every time you get thirsty. Many reusable bottles are now specially designed to keep your water cool, too. There are plenty of water stations around campus to keep you hydrated.

Save your no-good food

Save the Student has written an article on how to make food fresh again, give it a go if you’ve got some soft bananas or stale bread!

Make the most of free online recipes

Looking for inspiration? BBC Good Food, NOSH, Save the Student and Instagram food accounts like The Body Coach have hundreds of free recipes, including different dietary requirements. You won’t run out of ideas for a while with these!

Medication

You may need to access regular prescriptions and medication which can become expensive. It’s important to identify the most cost-effective way to pay for any prescriptions.

Firstly, you should check if you're entitled to free or reduced cost prescriptions. The NHS can issue exemption certificates in certain circumstances, including for specific medical conditions, pregnancy and low income. You can find out more about the criteria for free prescriptions on the NHS website.

If you're not entitled to free or reduced cost prescriptions, it may be beneficial to consider paying for prescriptions in advance. This can save you money if you require multiple prescriptions over a period of time by purchasing a prepayment certificate.

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