The entire country is currently in the grips of a cost of living crisis, with rising prices for all goods and services. Whilst this affects everybody it particularly hits hard on those with lower or restricted incomes. It is fuelled by the ongoing state of world affairs such as the war in Ukraine causing a food and energy crisis, and recovery from the covid pandemic. The inflation rate has grown exponentially meaning costs have skyrocketed whilst incomes have remained the same.
Does it affect students?
Yes, a recent survey by the NUS questioning 3,500 students on the cost of living crisis, found that 96% of students are cutting back on spending. Almost a third of students are left with just £50 a month after paying rent and bills, and 92% say the crisis is negatively affecting their mental health. Elsewhere, 68% of students are struggling to afford course materials. It unfortunately is having an effect on everyone’s lives.
Why Is this happening?
Increase in costs.
The supply and demand model of economies has controlled people’s lives for centuries. If something is in short supply the value goes up. If the demand for a product is high, its value goes up.
With the restraints of energy and raw materials currently available globally, prices have increased. As producers pay more, they invariably pass the cost onto the end consumers, resulting in higher prices
Because companies, organizations and governments have to pay more for energy and raw goods there is less money available to increase wages or student financial support. This leaves incomes stagnant.
What does this mean for students?
Students with fixed or restrictive incomes have 2 options to help with managing the financial burdens being felt by everyone.
- Increase Income
- Reduce expenditure
A mixture of action in these areas and careful budgeting can be instrumental in coping with this period of imbalance, but it’s a detailed line to tread when having to watch the pennies every step. Just remember that everyone is feeling this current cost of living crisis.
Increasing Your Income
Students often have little flexibility on what income they can generate during study at university. Your main asset is time, and this should rightly so be focused on learning. But using your spare time to work can help alleviate the stress of having to balance the books. Evening, weekend and holiday/seasonal work are readily available due to shortages in the workforce from the impact of both Brexit and the covid pandemic. Our shift towards a gig economy over the past decade has opened up flexible working hours greatly.
Already have a part-time job? Many employers are struggling to fill vacancies. It might be possible depending on the type of work you do to ask for a pay rise or extra hours.
Try ways to make money from home
Be wary of high-risk activities like gambling, cryptocurrency or online trading. With high-risk sectors like these the fantasy of turning over a quick and easy profit greatly out ways the substantial losses that can more probably occur.
However, there are many safe ways to boost income by making money at home. https://www.savethestudent.org/make-money/10-quick-cash-injections.html
Chances are you already receiving a maintenance loan with half of it paying for your tuition and the other half towards the cost of living. With inflation rising so sharply though the amount you receive doesn’t follow correspondingly. As they are household means tested, you may not qualify for any extra. But always check with gov.uk to find out what other financial support you may qualify for.
Other financial help
- There are additional funds for those who need extra financial help as well as for students with children or dependent adults and students with disabilities
- Students can also access government funds designed to support residents struggling with the cost of living crisis
Support from your university
Look into scholarships, grants and bursaries
These are distributed by the university, It may be they are available if you have specific circumstances or are studying a certain subject to help with the cost of completing your course. You can check for currently available help for Sheffield University and Sheffield Hallam University.
Many Universities offer what is known as a hardship fund to help those who are really struggling, access to these is limited and demand has increased significantly over the past year. Contact your student union for advice on how they can help.
Extra support from your parents/family
Although the maintenance grant is dependent on your household circumstances, If you feel comfortable consider asking your parents or family for extra help, whether financially or otherwise to help you meet or cover some of your commitments.
Sell things you no longer need
Clothes you no longer wear, old mobile phones, and last year’s textbooks are examples. If you don’t need or use it consider selling it, Facebook marketplace, eBay and vinted are all good options to get your unwanted items earning cash.
Reduce your expenditure
This is where having a budget really comes in, by calculating your outgoings you can work out where you can realistically save money to help balance the books. Prices are rising and unfortunately, we do not always have control over what and how much. The best way to look at cutting down on your outgoings is to lay it all out on paper and a spreadsheet and really look at when money is coming in and going out and how you can reduce it.
Paying for bills?
If you pay the bills such as energy or utilities, mobile phones etc. Look at ways you can reduce consumption. Switching to cheaper providers, especially for energy is currently difficult but mobile/broadband and other services can still be done. Looking at what you use and working out if you can reduce it is an easy way to save.
Students get discounts, it’s a perk of the trade! Great if you can use them, but don’t buy something just for the sake of a discount. Impulsive spending even on bargains can send your finances into the red.
Food is important
The average cost of groceries is off the scale, 6 months ago £45 a week would be reasonable for a weekly groceries shop. But with the cost skyrocketing for everybody and increasing weekly. Maximising your budget to feed yourself for 7 days is essential. With the increase in the use of foodbanks by even those with steady incomes in organizations like the NHS. Look at ways to be sensible and ensure you don’t go hungry.
Look After Yourself
Financial strains can be extremely detrimental to an individual’s mental health, although things may seem bleak when money is tight, better days are ahead and you looking after your mental health can help you to get there.
Are you struggling to manage financially? Help is always available, why not talk to your student’s union who may be able to offer some guidance on how to help financially?
Struggling to pay your rent? Get in touch with your landlord to keep communication open with them. Not informing them of financial struggles will not particularly help your situation.
Want to read more about how the cost of living is affecting students across the country?
About Thornsett Properties
Thornsett Properties have been providing modern student accommodation in Sheffield since 1985. We supply accommodation to over 650 undergraduates and postgraduate students studying at Sheffield University and Sheffield Hallam University every year. Designed to fit with your budget whilst looking for student accommodation. Thornsett Properties are property owners and not agents. All our properties are managed by ourselves and not reliant on third parties. We aim to help you succeed in our student accommodation in Sheffield