SOAS University of London

Student Advice and Wellbeing

Reducing Expenses


Look at your rent. Can you move somewhere cheaper? Or get an extra person in to share the rent?
When you receive your loan at the beginning of the term, either set aside the money required for your rent in an interest-earning separate account, or pay your rent immediately. This is essential if you wish to keep a roof over your head, so try not to get into rent arrears. Remember if you pay monthly rent you will have to continue to pay during the vacations at Christmas and Easter when you might not actually be living in London. Halls of residence and private landlords will also require a deposit. See our Accommodation pages for more information.


Could you reduce your costs by walking or cycling? For details about cycling in the capital see the Transport for London (TfL) website: If you don't own a bike you can also rent 'Boris Bikes' ('Sadiq' bikes?) from sites near to SOAS. Can you make use of weekly or monthly London travelcards and bus season tickets? Get them even cheaper if you have an 18+ Student Oyster Photocard from TfL, see the TfL website for details. If you travel outside London by train, a 16-25 Railcard is a must-have as you'll get 1/3 off fares. The cost of the card will pay for itself in just a few trips. Get money off the card itself with a 16-25 Railcard discount code from The Train Hacker.

To get further savings on travel in London, bring both your 18+ Student Oyster Photocard and 16-25 Railcard to a staff member at any London Underground station ticket office. This will get you 34% off-peak pay as you go, and off-peak daily caps on the Tube, London Overground, DLR and most National Rail services in London.


Try to use a cut-price store for basics and markets for fruit and vegetables. Invest in a cook book on Healthy Eating on a Budget and cut down on fast food, snacks and eating out which are expensive. Make packed lunches. Share the shopping and cooking with a friend – it’s cheaper. You’ll be healthier as well as richer!

Heating & electricity bills

Put on an extra sweater instead of turning up the heating. Turn heat and lights off when you go out and when you go to bed. Pay in monthly instalments if possible and inform the utility company when you are moving out so that you do not get billed for subsequent occupants. Share cooking rather than doing it individually. Shower instead of bath. Could you get a cheaper deal on energy by switching providers? Which magazine provide advice about switching to other energy providers, including greener options. Visit the Which website.


Choose your broadband package very carefully and make sure that you’re not paying more than you have to. The main things you need to consider when comparing broadband deals are the download speed, the monthly usage allowance and the cost. Faster broadband packages and those with high or unlimited download limits usually cost more than basic packages, but do pay the extra if you’re going to download a lot. Otherwise you may find yourself being fined by your provider for going over your limits. Consult our Broadband guide for students (pdf; 36kb) .

Mobile phones and international calling

Shop around for a cheap deal on your phone. If you are taking out a contract on the latest smart phone, you will normally be tied to this for 2 years. Include this cost in your monthly budget and work out if you can honestly afford it. If you are topping up a pay-as-you-go phone with £10 a month or more, look out for sim only, contracts that can be cancelled at a months notice. Often these types of contracts will give you more call time, texts and data allowance than topping up. For more information please consult our Mobile phone guide for students (pdf; 32kb)

For information about saving money on international calls please see our Mobile phone guide for students (pdf; 32kb)


Try to ration yourself and discover the pleasures of some of the free entertainment in London in parks, museums and galleries. Get an NUS Extra card for discounts in certain shops even on groceries, eating our, theatres, travel companies and more. See the NUS Extra website for details. Use the SOAS Student Union for ideas on clubs, societies, and all sorts of cheap entertainment. 

Credit cards

Avoid using them. If you have one, cut it up and try to pay off the debt in the vacations before to reduce high interest debt. Use the interest-free student overdraft instead. Consult The Money Saving Expert for a cheaper card if you must have one.

Student banking

Apply for a student bank account with an interest-free overdraft. Use this for emergencies and try to pay it off by working in vacations. When you graduate the interest-free facility ceases. Stay within your authorised overdraft or you will be charged high fees. Money Saving Expert and other price comparison websites will help you find the best deal.


Try to get second-hand books for your course. Look on Students Union and departmental notice boards or consult Abe Books, Ebay or Gumtree. Use the library, online resources and study-packs.

TV License

You need your own TV licence if you have a TV in your room in halls or if you share a house with other students and have one in your room. If you share a TV with your housemates you will need a licence. If you’re caught without a valid licence, a fine of up to £1000 could mean curtains for your finances this year. A colour TV licence costs £145.50. Pay online at the TV Licensing website

Council Tax

Full-time students are exempt from paying Council Tax. Get a certificate of student status online from the Student Information Desk and take it to your landlord or council tax office if you are sent a bill. If you share with non-students, the property will attract a council tax bill and you might be asked by your flatmates to pay a share.


Ask family for essentials like clothes, shoes, books or money for Christmas and birthday presents. And don’t forget your parents’ birthdays – hopefully they are supporting you and fostering good relations is important.

Help with health costs

If you have to buy regular prescriptions, get your eyes tested or get dental treatment, you may be eligible for help with the costs on the grounds of low income. Request a HC1 form online from the NHS website


If you have valuables like a computer, bicycle, TV, etc, you should insure them against damage or theft. The cover will be cheaper than the cost of replacement. Halls fees include some insurance – check whether it is enough for you. Check with your parents first, as some household insurance policies can include insurance for students’ possessions for a small additional premium. Or check out Endsleigh or other companies on the web for student policies.