‘I’ve got to choose between being warm or saving money’

4 Mins read

With prices soaring due to inflation, essential costs such as energy bills, food prices, and transport costs have all increased, affecting people across the UK.

Inflation is at a staggering 10.1% as of September 2022, which is a huge leap from 2014 when it was just 2.2%. The Bank of England has stated that inflation could rise to 11% by the end of this year, causing crisis amongst citizens.

Students attending university moving away from home for the first time and facing these extortionate prices are struggling as this isn’t the dream that they had wished for when living by themselves.

Despite a rising cost of living, the amount of student loan students receive has remained the same, and now many students are considering finding a part-time job to supplement their student loan, or in the worst case scenario moving back home.

“Even the price of coffee has gone up and it feels like it’s become a ‘little luxury’ as opposed to a bare necessity,” Lydia, a student at LCC told us. She explained how she feels she’s been able to notice even the smallest of price changes, especially for the things she buys regularly.

“Some mornings I debate whether I want to actually buy a coffee a not because sometimes I just can’t justify spending that much. I end up just waking up a little bit earlier to make myself a coffee to bring with me on my way to work or uni.”

Image of the canteen at LCC (London College of Communication)
Students have complained about the price of food at places like the refectory at LCC [Jayden Galata]

A large caffe latte in LCC’s canteen costs £3.20 so a student drinking two per day over a five-day week would spend £32.

To save money while doing her Masters, Lydia has decided to live at home with her father after struggling to find any accommodation for a reasonable price: “I attended so many bidding wars with my soon-to-be flatmate but we were just met with defeat.”

In order to stay in accommodation that includes bills such as gas and electric, Lydia tried to bargain with landlords in order to save her money but said they were all stubborn in their set prices. “It’s always worth a shot, if I could afford to move out then I definitely would, but it becomes so draining searching all the time.”

Lydia, like a lot of students, is living at home but still buying her own groceries as a way to live at home and still be independent. “My eating habits have become so repetitive, it’s become so easy to buy items in bulk like rice or beans and just re-use them across the course of a week or two, however long I can make it last for.”

Many students are facing this issue where it has become difficult to be more adventurous with their meal plans and their diets are not efficient enough as they’re not including the nutrients they need in all their meals.

” I’ve been using my hot water bottle as a source of warmth but even then I have to be conscious about how many times a day I’m using the kettle to refill it.”

Abigail Crawley

This is quite different from the students who are living in accommodation and are faced with the costs of paying for all their facilities. The average household is now paying £2,500 for energy compared with £760 in 2021 and £450 in 2020.

As a result, many students are met with the decision of whether they want to put the heating on as the colder months are approaching. This means wearing more layers at home and being more conscious about where their money is going.

“There have been nights where I’ve been unable to sleep due to how cold it’s been in my apartment, I’ve been using my hot water bottle as a source of warmth but even then I have to be conscious about how many times a day I’m using the kettle to refill it,” said Abigail Crawley, a UAL student.

Being a student who’s just moved away from home for the first time, it’s difficult being put in a position where you’re experiencing adulthood for the first time in such a crisis. Moving out with friends is supposed to be a liberating feeling for a young adult but instead the pressure of everything else surrounding it becomes a buzz-kill.

Recent surveys show nine-out-of-ten people have delayed putting their heating on this year and have also been turning off lights when not being used – the urge to save money whilst the cost of living only seems to worsen is becoming an unbearable battle for most people in the UK.

Abigail has only just received her student finance due to complications so has been struggling within the last month. “I’ve been trying to pick up extra shifts at work where I can but it’s been so hard trying to juggle it with uni.”

She has found herself needing more money in order to afford the essentials, such as heating, which shouldn’t be as tough as it’s been. “I’ve got to choose between being warm or saving money, what kind of sacrifice is that? I don’t have the time or energy to be working, but I’ve kind of been left with no choice.”

Due to the fact that student loans haven’t been adapting to the change in the cost of living, students are unfairly being made to make sacrifices like this to help them, and the number of students who are making these decisions are increasing.

Surveys have shown that 67% of students are concerned about managing their living costs this autumn and 55% have said this might prevent them from continuing their studies.

Students are fearing their circumstances are being overlooked during this crisis and are calling for more financial help from the education system to ensure that they do not need to keep being forced to decide whether or not they fancy being warm enough to sleep.

Featured image by congerdesign via Pixabay CC
Edited by Sophie Patrick and Taysan Ali-Osman.

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