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Student shopping on a budget

Student shopping on a budgetLike it or not, all students will have to go shopping at some point, whether to buy food, new clothes or equipment and books for their course.

And for those who do like shopping, this can be risky, especially when you first receive your student loan and the temptation for a shopping spree can overtake common sense.

The best way to avoid blowing all your loan or savings in one go is to set a strict budget and only buy the essentials.

Creating a shopping budget

To create a shopping budget, you will need to draw up a list of what you will need each week, month, term or year.
Depending on your accommodation arrangements, this could include: food, toiletries, cleaning products, bedding, furniture, presents, equipment and clothes. It is also worth ensuring you keep a little bit of money aside for emergency purchases too.
Calculate how much each item will cost and spread the costs out over a year.
For help creating a budget, visit the Student Calculator

How much does food cost?

For many students who have never lived away from home before, the hardest part about drawing up a groceries budget is knowing how much things cost.
If you do not know the average cost of groceries, take a look at the quick-reference costing guide below.

Item Price
Pasta in Sauce 79p
Pasta Shells (500g) 78p
Tin Chopped tomatoes 21p
8 British Lincolnshire sausages £1.88
Semi-skimmed Milk (1litre) 80p
6 Eggs £1.55
English Medium Cheddar Cheese (250g) £1.68
Chicken mini Fillets (244g) £2.33
Beef Mince (500g) £2.20
Mozzarella Pizza £2.06
Sunflower Butter Spread (1kg) £1.52
Sunflower Oil (1litre) £1.22
Tea Bags £1.59
Cornflakes (500g) £1.69
Washing powder 950g £2.33
Toilet roll x 4 £1.56
Shower gel 250ml 99p

Tips for shopping on a budget

Students can substantially reduce their shopping costs by following these tips:

  • Shop around and look for bargains. There is no shame in buying value brands or reduced items in shops. The best time to get a bargain is at the end of the day when supermarkets cut the price of any unsold food such as bread.
  • Visit the Savoo website to find out about money off deals on everyday essentials and life's little luxuries.
  • Is there a student discount? Many high-street stores offer discounts of 10% or more on clothing and other items for NUS members. For the pick of the best, visit Student Discounts and Student Beans.
  • Look around and buy your books second-hand. There are always ads around campus for books, and there are loads of places online to buy them second-hand, including Amazon and AbeBooks.
  • Freeze what you don’t eat or eat your left-overs for lunch the following day.
  • Don’t go shopping when you are feeling hungry.
  • Meat, fish and fresh fruit and vegetables are often cheapest in local markets.
  • If you live in halls, why not cook with friends so that you can share the costs.
  • Get a part-time job where food is included.

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