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Health and Wellbeing
A Health and Well-being Wales Partner

With the cost of living rising dramatically, and food and fuel prices soaring, many families are struggling to make ends meet. For young people, who are often still studying or working in low-paid, part-time or entry level jobs, finding ways to keep living costs as low as possible is crucial.

Housing costs take a far higher percentage of a young adult’s income than they once did, which means there is less left for utility bills, transport costs, food, clothing and entertainment.

It’s no wonder those who are also trying to save for a car, a flat or house deposit or a wedding may be filled with despair.

When there’s little chance of an increase in wages or other forms of income, e.g. student loan, the only way young people can stretch their money is to keep costs as low as possible.


The cheapest option is to live with parents or other relatives; however, this is not possible for everyone, including students and care leavers.

For renters, it’s usually more expensive to rent privately although house shares may be an option. Social housing is usually cheaper and more secure. Do not assume an entitlement to housing benefit as 18-21 year olds have no automatic entitlement to the housing costs element of Universal Credit (and very few 16-17 year olds can claim Universal Credit at all).

Citizens Advice offers advice on the options available to those who are facing a rent increase they cannot afford.

Some people are not counted for council tax purposes, e.g. students, student nurses and apprentices, and single-person households have their bills reduced by 25%. Citizens Advice has more information.

Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water has a number of ways to help people who are struggling to pay their water bills.

With energy prices going through the roof, everyone needs to make sure they are on the best tariff for their circumstances. Consumer champion Martin Lewis offers advice on the Money Saving Expert website.

It may be possible to reduce other outgoings, like insurance, internet and phone, simply by shopping around and comparing prices. To find the best deals, use comparison sites like:


Most young people rely on public transport to get around.

Where travel plans are concerned, the key to cutting costs is to plan ahead and shop around. Flight prices vary dramatically depending on airport, carrier and time/date of travel (with school holidays the most expensive).
Coach and railway fares tend to be cheaper the farther ahead you book. Look out for discounts for under 25s, often in conjunction with a bus or railcard.

Insurance can be expensive for young drivers but comparison sites will help you get the best deal. 


With food costs rising and shopping habits changing, it’s not surprising many young people overspend on food. Here are some ways to keep the food bills down:


  • avoid shopping every day – aim for once or twice a week
  • eat before shopping – hunger leads to impulse buys
  • plan meals for the week ahead
  • write a list and stick to it
  • use familiar stores – searching for items leads to impulse buys
  • buy own brands instead of big brand names
  • only bulk buy if the food will be used (or shared with friends)
  • go shopping late in the day when fresh foods are often reduced
  • use cash – there’s less chance of going over budget


  • take a packed lunch to college or work
  • buy snacks in multi-packs to reduce the unit cost
  • cook meals from scratch and freeze portions for future use
  • plan meals to avoid wasting fresh foods
  • check the fridge/freezer/cupboards before going to the shops
  • check use by and expiry dates to avoid waste
  • try out new foods and recipes – vegetarian meals can work out cheaper and are just as tasty

Love Food Hate Waste has lots of recipes and ideas for reducing food waste.

Apps like Too Good To Go and Olio direct users to reduced food from restaurants, cafes and bakeries stores.

Cooking on a Bootstrap and Student Recipes have low-cost recipes.

Eating out

Everyone needs a treat now and then (perhaps to celebrate a birthday) and it needn’t cost the earth.

It’s generally cheaper to eat out at lunchtime or early evening. For dinner dates, look out for special offers, including kids eat free deals and vouchers. Drinks can be expensive so if money’s tight stick to tap water (licensed establishments must provide tap water to paying customers).

Save the Student has tips for eating out on a budget, or check Groupon to purchase discount vouchers.

Other cost-cutting ideas

The best way of keeping costs down is to stop spending unnecessarily, especially in the sales; something is only a bargain if it will be worn or used. Moneysaving Expert recommends using money mantras to curb impulse buying.

For planned purchases, always shop around for the best price or service. Wherever possible, click through using free cash back websites.

Money Saving Expert has plenty of moneysaving tips for students.

MoneyHelper has a section on managing your budget in these uncertain times (plus lots of other helpful information about money-related issues).

Last updated: 09/03/2023