Managing living expenses as an MSc student

11 August 2021

Our MSc student ambassadors share their top tips for managing your living expenses during your postgraduate year at Warwick Business School.

Pragash Thaninathan, MSc Management

For any university student, budgeting is key and some of the costs to consider include, tuition fees, accommodation, travel, food, sports, going out, and more.

Accommodation: there are numerous options available on campus and off-campus with the most popular student areas being Leamington Spa, Coventry, and Kenilworth. Prices can range from around £90-£190 a week and the length of the contract can range from 43 weeks to 50 weeks, so make sure you check before deciding. Information about both on and off-campus options can be found here.

Travel: For travel around the UK, the majority of students opt for a 16-25 railcard or 26-30 railcard which offers savings of up to 1/3 off train ticket prices by simply paying £30 for the railcard for one year. This is a great way to save money when exploring around the country or visiting your home.

Food: Close to campus, there are multiple options for your food shopping, namely a Tesco and Iceland inside the Cannon Park Shopping Centre and an Aldi slightly further out. A convenient yet pricier option is the Rootes Grocery Store situated near the Piazza, which is a central hub and a great area to meet with friends. My top tip would be to buy food and cook with your friends/flatmates and you can split the cost of the shopping or the meal between you all; a good app to track this is Splitwise.

My tip for budgeting would be to keep it simple, give yourself an upper limit for the whole term and then break it down into weekly costs, plan your meals for the week depending on how busy your days will be, and account for days where you’ll be going out to eat with friends. Finally, always go food shopping with a list!

Xiao Bai, MSc Business & FinanceXiao Bai

I started to manage my budget the moment I chose WBS. My first and main consideration was accommodation, as it costs at least half, or even two-thirds of my living expenses each month. Because I chose to have face-to-face seminars, considering the time and fees of transportation, I decided to choose Lakeside accommodation on campus. 

For students who live on campus, Cannon Park shopping centre is located really close by. You can definitely find everything you need there as there is a Tesco, Iceland, Post Office, barbers and a local Chinese supermarket. There is also an Aldi supermarket just next to the shopping centre. I would definitely say that Aldi and Tesco are my budget-friendly choices when it comes to my grocery shop. Since I cook for myself, I like to buy groceries once a week which costs me between £20-40.

Another brilliant fact about studying in the UK is that you can get student discount everywhere! For your online shopping, you can apply for a 6-month free Amazon prime account which includes free shipping. Unidays also offers various discounts across many brands and merchandise. Top cashback free classic membership provides cashback every time you purchase through their portal, but remember to cancel its prime membership if you don’t want to subscribe. For day-to-day travel I would recommend that you get a student railcard where you can make brilliant savings on your train tickets. Also, student discount isn’t always promoted so it’s worth asking if there is student discount wherever you go!

My top three budgeting tips are:

  1. Remember to register for loyalty cards such as the Tesco Clubcard and Boots Advantage Card to enjoy student discount, cashback and promotions. 
  2. Ask for student discount wherever possible.
  3. Carefully record your spending every month and plan the next month’s budget based on what you have spent. Some bank accounts generate a pie chart on their mobile banking apps that show you your monthly expenditure on every segment such as groceries, travel and entertainment which I find really helpful!

Man Sun, MSc Business with Consulting

Before starting your one-year MSc course, you will need to know your budget for your living expenses for the year. Firstly, you must find appropriate accommodation to suit your needs and there are many different options for you to choose from. For example, along with on-campus options, you could choose to live in shared accommodation. Two examples of accommodation near the main campus are Cannon Park which is located near the local grocery stores, and Coventry City Centre which has great transport links to the university and there are lots of shops, restaurants and markets in close proximity.

I would also recommend that you register for a UNIDAYS account where you can find brilliant discounts on lots of well-known brands. If you decided to live near to the main campus there is a Tesco supermarket located within the Cannon Park Shopping Centre so you may also want to consider applying for a Tesco club card whereby you can collect points every time you shop which helps you to save money. If you are keen to explore other UK cities I would also recommend that you get a student railcard where you can get a discount on train tickets which is a great cost-saving.

Managing your living expenses is an important aspect of your life as a university student. My top tip for budgeting would be to use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of your budget and what you are spending. I have found that by doing this I have improved my capability to manage my money.

Discover more about life as a postgraduate student at the University of Warwick.