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Living expenses and budgeting

Last updated: 21/09/2023 15:29

Budgeting is a skill that allows us to be in control of our money.

The theory of budgeting is straightforward but putting it into practice can be tricky, and requires discipline.

Average living expenses

Knowing what funding you have is only half of budgeting. You also need to know how much you will spend as a student.

Our living costs calculator can help show you the average living expenses (calculated from the expenditure of real-life students) depending on your level of study and where you choose to live.

International students: Please note that these figures are different from the financial maintenance test that you will be required to pass to obtain your Tier 4 student visa.


Work out what funding you have coming in and what money you have to pay out - simple! It can be helpful to budget in weeks, months or terms. Whatever works best for you is the best way. Make sure you keep checking your bank account so that you're not caught out by a sudden cash crisis.

Making your money go further

Ideas for increasing your income and reducing your expenditure.

You may have already had a part-time job before coming to university, so why not carry that on?

Find out more about working during your studies

Making the most of the financial products that are available to you while you are a student is just being money savvy.

Find out more information about student bank accounts, what's good about them but also what to be cautious about.

As well as using the university libraries, you may want to buy key texts for your course.

Essential course books are likely to be available in Blackwell's bookshop located in Cardiff University Students’ Union. They can be pre-ordered so you can collect them when you arrive in Cardiff.

You can search for cheaper second-hand copies on websites like Ebay or Amazon, or look out for students selling copies when you arrive.

International students: It's often a good idea to wait until you are in Cardiff before buying course books. You may be able to share books with friends, and you won’t have to carry them from overseas.

Cardiff University Student ID

In addition to giving you access to university buildings, your student ID card may also entitle you to a student discount in some shops, cinemas and restaurants.

NUS (National Union of Students)

As a student you will be able to buy an TOTUM card if you'd like one. If you do, you'll find that a lot of things, including, cinema tickets, clothing, travel, can be bought at discounted cost. If you're ever unsure if somewhere offers a student discount, just ask.

ISIC (International Student Identity Card)

An ISIC card is available to any full-time student and entitles you to discounts on charter flights, some accommodation, cinema tickets and admission to art galleries and museums.

To obtain an ISIC card, you need a passport-size photograph and proof that you're a full-time student.

Young Persons Coachcard

The Young Persons card gives you 30% off all National Express coach travel in the UK and you can buy one at National Express coach offices or from the National Express website.

16-25 Railcard

This card gives you a third off your rail travel (subject to terms and conditions) in the UK. To get this you will need proof you're a student, your passport and a passport-size photo. You can buy the card at any railway station or via the railcard website.

Get in touch

Get in touch with any questions you may have about living expenses or budgeting:

Student Advice and Money