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The best budgeting tips for students

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When your maintenance loan suddenly drops into your bank account, it might be hard to imagine running out of money. But without properly budgeting and managing your finances, it can be challenging to make your money stretch across the entire term. With all the excitement of university life, it's easy to lose track of your spending. Budgeting might seem boring, but it's really important, especially if you want to keep being able to have fun at uni for the entire term.

We've put together some budgeting tips for students that will help you make your money go further. 

How to make a student budget

Getting organised is the first step to creating an effective budget. To help, we've compiled four simple steps to creating a student budget. 

Add up your income 

Before you can figure out your monthly or weekly budget, you need to work out how much money you actually have to play with. Think about your different potential streams of income. These could include:

  • Your maintenance loan
  • Any grants/scholarships/bursaries you're eligible for
  • Income from a part-time job
  • Money from parents or family 
  • Savings 

To start, add up these different incomes and work out your total incomings per term. 

Calculate your essential expenses 

Your essential expenses are things that you absolutely need to spend money on. This includes your accommodation fees, tuition fees, utilities, food, travel costs, and any course supplies. Estimate how much these will cost you per term and subtract the sum from your income. That will leave you with a total you can spend on any inessential expenses, like nights out, eating out, shopping, and hobbies.

Make a weekly budget 

Let's be honest, nobody thinks about their spending a whole term in advance. You need to break down your budget into more manageable portions, like weekly chunks. So, once you've added up your total income for a term at university and subtracted your essential expenses, you should divide the remaining number by the number of weeks in a term. This will be your weekly budget.

Use a budgeting spreadsheet or finance app

You might find it helpful to use a spreadsheet or a finance app to keep track of your spending. Using an app like Monzo or Starling Bank will help provide insights into your spending patterns by grouping your purchases and outgoings by type. 

Money-saving tips for students

Planning your budget is a great place to start, but from there you need to brainstorm ways to actually cut back on your spending. Luckily, as a student, there are several ways you can save money. 

1. Look out for student discounts 

A lot of shops and hospitality venues will offer student discounts. It's worth getting an NUS Totum card and signing up for sites like Unidays and Student Beans so you can take advantage of all the discounts on offer.

2. Get a railcard

Travel expenses can add up quickly. Luckily, as a student, you can get a 16-25 railcard to save a third on your rail fares. If you're based in London, you can also get a student Oyster card which will give you 30% off your travel costs across the city.

3. Buy second hand 

The cost of new textbooks can quickly add up. Luckily, many of the course materials you need will be available second-hand and will be much cheaper. You can speak to your university bookshop or student council about finding second-hand materials. 

4. Plan ahead 

You'd be surprised how much money you can save by planning your week in advance. This doesn't mean that you need to cut out all your fun events, you just need to budget them in. Something as simple as creating a meal plan for the week and prepping your food so you don't need to buy extra snacks and lunches when at university can save you a great deal of money.

Want more budgeting tips for students?

Our content hub offers advice on all aspects of student life, from academics to finances and beyond. Have a browse of our blogs for more helpful tips and advice. 


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