25 August 2023

Uni students act to address cost of living challenges

New research from HSBC UK reveals the vast majority of university students have made changes to their lifestyle to address cost of living challenges, with a reduction in non-essential spending, slashing grocery bills and staying in and cooking at home highlighted as some of the most popular tactics.

This research follows the launch of HSBC UK’s new Student Account which includes £100 in cash, a one year subscription to mindfulness service Headspace and a guaranteed overdraft of £1,000 in the first year, increasing up to £3000 in year 3.

With only 2% of students admitting to not making any changes to their lifestyle to address cost of living challenges, the new research from HSBC UK shows:

  • Six in ten (61%) students are reducing energy costs at home;
  • Half (51%) are reducing grocery bills and cutting down on pricey ingredients, with one in five (21%) replacing branded food with own brand items;
  • Almost half (45%) are looking for a new job that will pay more;
  • Four in ten (42%) are more likely to look for offers and discounts than before; and
  • One quarter (25%) have started budgeting, mirroring the percentage of uni students who are cutting back on socialising to help make ends meet.

While students are taking action to tighten their belts to improve their finances in the face of the increased cost of living, mental health is still front of mind for those at uni.

  • Four in five (80%) say that the rising cost of living has negatively impacted their mental health;
  • Three in ten (30%) say that they are sleeping less, worrying about their finances
  • 7% have considered quitting their course as a direct result of the increased cost of living.

On a more positive note, students are using different tactics to alleviate stress. The most common ways of reducing stress include:

  • Exercise (37%)
  • Music / podcasts (35%)
  • Talking to friends (32%) and socialising (27%)
  • Meditation (20%) and mindfulness (18%)

Positively, one in five students (21%) say they know they can contact their bank about money worries without it affecting their credit score.

Pella Frost, Head of Everyday Banking at HSBC UK, said: “For many people heading off to university is an incredibly exciting time and they’ll be looking forward to meeting new people and starting their university course. Of course, there can be also be challenges. For some, it will be the first time living away from home and it might also be the first time managing their finances and studies independently, which can be daunting.

“Uni students should be reassured that there’s a lot of help out there for them, whether it is online mindfulness support like Headspace, support from friends or pastoral support from the university. There are also a number of simple hacks that could only take minutes and make a real difference to a student’s finances, whether that is to help budget or build financial resilience. Of course, guidance and information is also available from your bank.”

Top five money hacks that students are adopting to help with the increased cost of living:

What How
1. Keep close tabs on expenditure and create a budget. Plan and budget where you can. HSBC UK customers can utilise resources on the HSBC UK mobile app including the ‘Plan’ tab to keep track of where your money is going, use the ‘Balance after bills’ feature to see how much disposable income you have after paying your bills and consider using a ‘subscription management tool’ to monitor your monthly subscription outgoings. 
2. Understand how fit your finances are. Generate your own or household financial fitness score.  

Generate your own or household financial fitness score by answering a few quick questions at: https://financialfitness.hsbc.co.uk/. It takes about 10 minutes and does not affect your credit score in any way. You will be given tips to help set achievable goals to improve your financial health and can use the tool again in future to see if your score has improved.

3. Sign-up for a free HSBC UK’s support webinar open to both customers and non-customers. Register for a free HSBC UK support webinar here: https://www.hsbc.co.uk/financial-fitness/fitness-score/#register.  These free webinars will give you the insight, knowledge, and tools to reach your financial goals and build a strong foundation for the future. Each webinar lasts 30 to 60 minutes and they are open to all – no matter who you bank with.
4. Find out what benefits you are entitled to by using a Benefits Calculator Tool. The most recent estimates suggest there £15 billion of unclaimed benefits in the UK. For more information and to check what you are entitled to, visit: https://www.hsbc.co.uk/financial-fitness/could-you-be-missing-out-on-unclaimed-benefits/#calculator  
5. Speak to your bank if you have any money worries  Remember you are not alone. If you are struggling with your account, have missed a payment or think you might do soon, complete an income and expenditure form online at: https://www.hsbc.co.uk/help/money-worries/  or speak to HSBC UK’s Financial Support Team over the phone or through the online chat service. These steps will help HSBC UK work out the best way to support you.

Media enquiries to:

Steve Gracey - steve.gracey@hsbc.com / 020 7991 4118
Email: UKPressOffice@hsbc.co.uk


Notes to editors:

The research was carried out online by Research Without Barriers and conducted between 2nd August 2023 and 8th August 2023 with a sample of 2,002 UK University students.

All research conducted adheres to the ESOMAR & UK Market Research Society (MRS) code of conduct (2023)

HSBC UK’s Student Account includes:

The account offer, which is now available, includes:

  • £100 in cash, to be transferred directly into the opened account
  • A one year subscription to Headspace to help provide support with mental wellbeing through its meditation and mindfulness tools
  • A guaranteed £1,000 interest-free overdraft buffer in the first year, which could increase to £2,000 in year 2 and £3,000 in year 3
  • Savings accounts that could encourage a savings habit, like the Regular Saver at a 5% interest rate
  • Access to a full set of online tools to support financial wellbeing, including tips on budgeting, and how students can make their money go further at uni.


HSBC UK serves over 14.75 million customers across the UK, supported by 24,000 colleagues. HSBC UK offers a complete range of retail banking and wealth management to personal and private banking customers, as well as commercial banking for small to medium businesses and large corporates. HSBC UK is a ring fenced bank and wholly owned subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc.

HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of HSBC, is headquartered in London. HSBC serves customers worldwide from offices in 62 countries and territories. With assets of US$3,041bn at 30 June 2023, HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations.