Student Advice Service – Money Matters

News from the Student Advice Service at the University of Brighton

hand holding a hot dog

Are you being ripped off by fast food and fast food delivery companies?

Here in Student Advice we talk to a lot of students about their financial challenges and the rising cost of bills and food in particular is high on everyone’s agenda as a further burden on the budget.

It has become the cultural norm for people to buy a lot of food cooked by other people and delivered straight to the door. During the first outbreaks of COVID, the most vulnerable were relying on daily food deliveries, but since then we accept that it is quite usual behaviour and everyone is doing it.

Adverts for delivery companies and fast-food outlets are all over the ad breaks, phone pop ups and heavily promoted all over social media, it is impossible to avoid seeing them. Normalising daily take outs or deliveries may work for some with an unlimited budget, but most of the students we talk to feel under significant pressure to adopt higher spending habits when they know they can’t really afford it.

Advertising is a game, advertisers use hard and relentless psychological tricks to get us to spend – that’s how they make their money, by persuading us to spend money we don’t have on stuff we don’t need.  They make us feel we will be missing out if we don’t buy a take away breakfast, when a bowl of cereal or some toast would be just as satisfying and less than a quarter of the price.

For those of us concerned about sustainability and the environment, the production of mass produced cheap food, packaging, transport, emissions and keeping things warm in transit takes up a lot more energy and creates more mess than having a go at cooking something in your own home. Despite the spin you may see, using take-aways is bad news for the planet and possibly for the people at the other end of the production line.

For your health it’s obviously bad news too. Poor nutrition between the ages of 18 and 21 can reduce your ability to learn and negatively impact your concentration – and that is the time when we develop our eating habits for the rest of adult life, habits which can be hard to change if they are unhealthy.  That’s not to mention the high salt and fat and the heart disease risks.

And for the small student budget….if it means you run out of money and can’t pay your rent, it is a catastrophe.

We don’t want to tell you what to do, but we need to talk openly about issues like these as we have a shared duty of care to support all of our students in every way we can. Please remember that people advertise things to you because they want to profit from you, whatever the cost not only to you, but to the environment, and you can choose to not play that game.

If you want to talk about budgeting, breaking bad spending habits, cooking skills, or if you just want cheap fake-away recipes, then please contact the Student Advice Service and we will be happy to help.

You can also read an excellent guest blog by Dani, a University of Brighton alumna and now a Student Information Desk Adviser, who writes about eating well on a tight budget

Student Advice

Helen Abrahams • May 12, 2023

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