Cost of living
How to budget for student life
Food, rent, and household expenses are all on the rise, and this could be the first time you’re responsible for paying the bills and covering your costs with your student loan. This means it’s important to look realistically at what your living costs are likely to be during your time at University. This will allow you to budget and make your student loan stretch as far as possible.
Monthly cost breakdown
We have provided a cost breakdown below based on the average costs for a student staying in university accommodation, taking into account the amount of money that most students spend on food, course materials, household goods and other expenses. Your living expenses will depend on a variety of things, including the accommodation you choose to stay in and your lifestyle choices, so please remember this is just an estimate and you may have other expenses to add in.
|Cost breakdown||Monthly expenditure|
(Based on the range of costs for a self-catered room in university halls of residence. Includes cost of electricity and wi-fi.)
|£360.20 to £795.48|
General living costs
(Including food, toiletries, household goods, etc.)
(Based on monthly Stirling Uni Link pass purchased via the app.)
|Course materials (estimated)||£36.00|
(Such as gym membership, haircuts, socialising etc.)
|Total monthly expenditure||£936.20 to £1,371.49|
Per year, that works out as:
- £8,323.90 to £12,459.06 (38 weeks of study)
- £11,390.60 to £17,049.23 (52 weeks of study)
Remember: Private rental costs rarely include utility bills (electricity, gas, broadband). The average monthly rent for a student living with one other person in Stirling is £436.50 (source: citylets.co.uk) with gas and electric being an average of £85 per month and broadband averaging at £6 per month. Learn more about private rentals and what to look out for.
If you live outside Stirling, don’t forget to include your travel costs when working out your monthly expenditures.
Travel costs are a necessary expense for most students, be it travelling to university, work or travelling home.
If you are spending money on travel, check out the following information to make sure you are taking advantage of offers available to you:
Free bus travel for under 22s
If you are under 22 years old, you are eligible for a free Nationwide bus pass. This is a great incentive for young people and a great way to save money too! Full details and how to apply can be found at freebus.scot.
Midland Bluebird bus ticket options
Midland Bluebird offers a direct service to the University of Stirling from the Stirling Bus Depot. They also offer discounted tickets for all Students and have a variety of options including weekly or monthly passes. This is a great way to utilise your student card and save money! Full details can be found on the Midland Bluebird and Eastern Scottish website.
Midland Bluebird offers several flexible ticket options for those who do not need to travel every day. Find out which ticket is right for you.
Citylink bus student discount
Register your student card on the My Citylink app and take advantage of a 20% discount on standard single and return journey tickets, handy if you need to travel to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, or Inverness.
Scotrail discount train travel
Scotrail offer several options for discounted rail cards that may be of benefit to you. If you use the train frequently to travel to university, or even for general day-to-day journeys, it could save you money in the long run.
Santander Cycle hire
The Santander Cycles scheme provides around 100 hire Bikes throughout the Stirling area, including approximately 30 bikes at three locations on campus and various locations throughout Stirling.
University Parking Permit for students
If you travel to university by car, there are different options for paying for parking. Depending on your circumstances, it may benefit you to purchase an annual or semester parking permit to save money, rather than going ‘pay as you go’.
We know food shopping is an essential expense, but that doesn’t mean it has to eat away at your whole budget. We’ve put together some information to help you keep your spending to a reasonable amount, no matter what your circumstances are.
It’s good to remember that there’s no set rule on how much you should spend, everybody has different responsibilities. Somebody with children or caring responsibilities is not going to spend the same amount as a single student. A breakdown of the average amounts spent on food per week/month can be found on NimbleFins. This can give you a rough idea how much you might wish to budget depending on how many people you are buying food for.
Get more from your shop
Most of the leading supermarkets offer loyalty card schemes which give you access to exclusive deals on products, and some even allow you to build up points that result in money-off vouchers.
Remember to shop around, though. Deals can lure you in, but sometimes that product is hiding away elsewhere at a better price. Apps such as Trolley can help you instantly compare prices from multiple shops to make sure you get your items for the best value.
Save the Student is here to save you money by keeping you up to date with all the best deals, discounts, and prize draws available. Check out their webpages to see if you can grab yourself a bargain or two... or even three!
Shop savvy, save the pennies
Our tips for saving whilst you shop:
- Go shopping with a friend and share the multi-buy offers.
- Shop around for brands/shops that can save you money. “own” brand products are often similar to brand names.
- Never go to the supermarket hungry.
- Always use price comparison and cash-back sites.
- Try charity shopping for clothing, books and gifts etc. It will lower your carbon footprint too.
- Always ask for a student discount even if not advertised.
- Download vouchers from Money Saving Expert. This website has some great money saving tips too.
- Look out for student discount voucher codes at My Voucher Codes.
- Don't take kids shopping with you!
- Look for coupon/deal finder apps and browser add-ons to help you save when shopping online.
- Always write a shopping list and only buy what you have written down.
- Give yourself a budget and stick to it.
Wasted food and drink is money down the drain
Food waste in Scotland costs the average family roughly £440 a year, and at a time when we’re all trying to cut the costs, avoiding spoiled food and drink has never been so important.
One of the biggest causes of this food waste is incorrect storage. Love Food Hate Waste found that the average UK household has their fridge sitting at least 2°C too warm! So, ensuring that your fridge temperature is set below 5°C can curb that food waste, saving you some money, and even helping you to do your part to save the environment.
Using up leftovers before you go shopping again is also a great way to waste less food and money. Websites such as Big Oven allow you to pop 3 ingredients you have into a search bar, and it generates lots of recipes for you to use.
There’s a brilliant A-Z guide on how different food products should be stored, giving you the information to make your food last longer.
Eating foods that are ‘in season’ is a great way to spend less on your weekly shop. You’re less likely to pay a premium price for products that have had to be shipped in, and you may even be supporting the local economy. Eat the Seasons is a brilliant website that gives you an in-depth breakdown of different home-grown produce that is available in the UK now. It even has a bit of information on some of the food products such as tips for buying, storing, and preparing them.
Sometimes food waste just happens, so don’t be too harsh on yourself if you find you do have to throw a few bits away, but maybe look to see if there are better ways to dispose of your waste than just chucking it in the bin.
Planning your meals in advance of going shopping is a perfect way to avoid overbuying products that you already have in your cupboards. This can help you to reduce the amount of food you have to buy each time you shop, and it’s also a great way to dodge food waste. Save the Student has a great page dedicated to meal planning, offering lots of penny-pinching meal ideas, an example shopping list to get you started, and also lots of tips on how to plan in advance.
The energy price cap, regulated by Ofgem, is currently updated quarterly and the current situation unfortunately means we'll all be facing challenges with our energy costs.
Energy costs are out of our control, but there are things we can do to ensure our personal costs are as low as possible:
- Unplug appliances that guzzle energy when you are not using them. Anything left on standby is probably using energy you don't need to use - for example chargers, laptops, games consoles, the kettle, televisions and more. Switching off the plugs or unplugging items could save you a considerable amount of money. Find out more about 'energy vampires'.
- Turn off lights when you leave a room and be mindful of how many lights you have on in the property at any one time.
- Keep doors closed for rooms you don't heat. Closing doors keeps the heat in the rooms that you are heating and stops cold air entering.
- Only using the heating when you need saves both money and energy. If the heating system has a timer, consider using it for when you are in the property only and only when you need it.
- You can turn your thermostat down - but not to a temperature that is too cold. A USwitch survey in 2020 showed that 2.7 million households are turning their thermostats up to 25°C. The ideal room temperature is between 18°C and 21°C.
- Ask your landlord to look at ensuring the house is as draught free as possible - for example looking at doors, windows, floorboards and skirting and fireplaces. Draught proofing strips or silicone filled can be used by your landlord to help seal up areas where heat or energy is escaping.
- Avoid electric heaters if you can - they are one of the most expensive forms of heating. The cheaper way to heat your home is by ensuring your landlord has provided and maintained an efficient gas central heating system with timers and thermostats.
- Check out tips to save energy from the Energy Saving Trust and tips to reduce your energy bills from Which?
If you are struggling to pay your energy bills, read Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis’s advice on the best action to take.
General tips and advice to save money
We all use our phones for so much now, but it's important to ensure you've got the best contract for your needs. If your contract is ending, shop around to see what the best deal is for you - even if it means changing your network. Ask about student discounts. Often your current provider will be able to match or beat other offers when you ask.
Get insured. Insurance is important to help safeguard you against loss, theft or damage to expensive items such as laptops, phones, cycles, and more. If you have been living with your parents before coming to university, check whether their insurance policy also covers you for theft or loss under the 'temporarily removed from home section'.
Our IT team provides Microsoft Office 365 and cyber security software to students for free while you are here.
Private rental sector
If you are living in the private sector, it is important to be aware of your rights. The Citizens Advice Bureaux provide a housing advice service so speak to them if you have any concerns.
If you have the impulse to buy a special treat, why not try to make yourself save the cost before you buy? You could take a tea or coffee you've made at home with you rather than buying one saving around £2.50 each time to go towards your treat. Or take a refillable water bottle rather than buying one each day. These switches can save money and the environment. Not only are you saving on a day-to-day basis, but it also gives you time to make sure you really want the treat and are not making a rash purchase that you can’t afford.