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BudgetingManaging your moneyNew Students

How to save money in your first year at university (and what you definitely shouldn’t do)

24 September 2020
Written by Hannah Chapman

Your first year at university always brings a mix of emotions. Mainly of excitement to be starting another chapter of your life, but also a little anticipation of what will happen next.

But if you’re starting uni during a global pandemic, those emotions will likely be intensified. Rest assured that you are not alone during your first few weeks in Cardiff. You have flatmates, course mates and many teams of university staff all there to help you get off to the best start in student life.

In my experience, one of the most anxiety-inducing parts of student life is managing your money. So, you’re about to get a big chunk of money come into your account (probably the most you’ve ever received in one go) and are expected to make it last until Christmas. With fresher’s week, your much-needed Amazon purchases, and Lidl treats all looking especially tempting, now is the time to make a money plan!

Having spent the past four years studying at Cardiff, I have made a list of my top tips for saving money during university.

Ditch Deliveroo

Learning some basic cooking skills and don’t always rely on takeaways and eating out- this will save you loads! You can also make large batches of your meals and freeze them for another day.

Get supermarket savvy

Swap Sainsburys and Waitrose for Aldi and Lidl and try to do just one weekly shop. A great tip is to never shop whilst you’re hungry to avoid any impulse purchases, as well as trying to shop later in the day to pick up any reductions on foods – remember you can buy foods that are nearing their sell-by date and freeze them for a later date. Also, check out the freezer sections to save on items like veggies and meat.

Milk your student discount

NUS Student card and the 16-25 railcard have saved me hundreds during my time as a student. Failing this, check out local charity shops, always compare coach versus train ticket prices, and download the ‘Too Good to Go’ app for major food discounts!

Make a budget buddy

Clubbing together with your flatmates to cook meals or buy essential kitchen items is also a cost-effective method. Just be sure you all know the deal to avoid any disagreements later down the line.


This is the most important thing to do! It is as simple as listing all of your in-goings (student loan, any money from parents, part-time work…) and outgoings (rent, gym membership, phone bill…) and making sure your money is being spent in the right places.

Doing this will make your financial situation seem much clearer to you. For example, you might see a cost that can be cut straight away, such as paying for a subscription for a service you no longer use, or buying small amounts of food daily instead of planning a weekly, longer-lasting shop.

If you want more help on how to budget, check out more details on the Intranet.

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Contact Student Funding and Advice

The Student Funding and Advice team are here to help you, please contact them should you have any questions.
Telephone: +44 (0)29 2251 8888

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