Unexpected Costs You’ll Face While At University

Jul 2016The Student Life


A common problem at uni is finding that there is too much month at the end of your money. “Budgeting” is probably a word that your mum has said to you about a million times. But, it’s actually a good habit to start as soon as you become financially independent. Most things below might be obvious, but there’s probably some unexpected costs you might have just forgotten about/ignored/pretended wasn’t a thing.


There are two types of people, you either LOVE stationery, or you have black biro for the whole year. But at uni, eventually, you will need to spend some £’s on stationery. Most courses will require a pen and lined paper for note-taking in lectures, while others might demand more than this. Check if your university has a dedicated stationery shop in the SU, as stuff there will be discounted for students. If not, stock up at the beginning of the academic year while the “back to school” offers are on. See how you get on in the first couple of weeks and you can always buy things when you need them.

University Cribs Top Tip

Buy a transparent pencil case at the beginning of the year. You’ll never lose a pen again and most universities will allow you to take your see-through pencil case into exams.

Course materials 

It might be tempting to be run out and buy all the recommended texts for your course as soon as you’re given a reading list, but doing so could seriously damage your finances. University level textbooks can occasionally cost upwards of £100, so it may be best to wait until you’re at uni to see if those books are in the library and share it with some coursemates. If you find that you desperately need your own copy, check eBay and Amazon as former students may be selling theirs online. Also, your lecturer may upload chapters or certain pages to your university student portal.

University Cribs Top Tip
Some schools might have a second-hand book sale at the beginning of the year – see if you can find any information about book sales on Facebook before heading to uni.


While some students want to move as far away from home as possible, even those living closer to home will face some form of transport costs – whether it’s hopping on a train to visit a friend, or getting a taxi home from a night out. Save money on train journeys by buying a travelcard, and taking a bus or coach home for those long journeys, as train travel can be pricey. If you must take a taxi, see if Uber is available in your location and take advantage of their sign up offer.

University Cribs Top Tip

Some student bank accounts offer travelcards in the hope that you will sign up with them – so make sure to look into what deals there are before taking out the first overdraft you see.



Although this may seem obvious, it’s very easy to overspend on your weekly food shop if you either shop when you’re hungry or don’t plan in advance. If money is really tight, write a shopping list and stick to it. Avoid shopping at convenience shops as the price is always inflated, so do your shopping online and get it delivered – Asda has the lowest minimum delivery amount of £25. You won’t even have to leave your bed to do the shop.

University Cribs Top Tip

Organise with your flatmates to contribute every week to a money kitty to buy communal items like milk, kitchen roll, sugar, teabags etc. Whatever money you haven’t spent at the end of the year can be spent on booze for an end of year blowout. Sweet.

Going out

With Freshers Week, weekly socials, student nights, sports events, and anything else as a valid reason to go out, your social calendar is likely to be pretty hectic. If you need to limit your spending, take out cash at the beginning of the week as an “allowance” and try not to spend any more than that. Any money that you don’t spend on a night out, put in a smash-to-open money jar and save up for your summer ( the last loan payment is in April/May time – wah). You don’t always need to spend money though – think nights in watching a series together as a flat/house or Sunday roasts where you can split the food bill for a couple of quid each.

University Cribs Top Tip

Take your student card everywhere and you’re bound to find somewhere you can grab a discount. Think cinema tickets, shopping, days out and more.

Utility bills & internet

When in halls, you’ll have bills included in your rent – but in private housing, you’ll have to sort your own. With bills, you will often have one provider for each service (eg. Welsh Water) and one account per house. Make paying bills less stressful by setting up a house account and putting in a set amount every month. Virgin Media do rolling monthly contracts, and are the provider of choice for many students.

University Cribs Top Tip

Shopping around for the best deal may be time-consuming, but could be worth it in the long run. Or, you could just save money by wearing lots of jumpers.

Bits and bobs – printing, library fines, insurance

Pesky library fines and printer credits can add up too. If you need to do a lot of printing for your course, it may be worth investing in a printer. Printers can come quite cheap, but a decent one will set you back about £40. Set reminders on your phone to take back library books – no one likes paying library fines.

You also might want to consider insuring your phone and/or laptop. There can be nothing more heartbreaking than forking out your last £200 on getting your iPhone screen replaced. Try a price comparison website for the best deal.

University Cribs Top Tip

Endsleigh insurance does contents insurance at student-friendly prices.

Before you work out what unexpected costs you’ll face, find your student accommodation here!