Create a budget that covers you and leaves a little extra

Successfully navigating your student years doesn’t just mean keeping an eye on costs. Learning now how to best manage your money can be an enriching experience.

Ensuring you have enough cash not only to survive, but also to thrive as a student is tough – and takes some careful planning, however… it can be done! Here’s how to stay on top of your finances and make the most of being at university.

B is for... budgeting

Paying for university is more than funding your tuition. If you live in halls or a student flat, you’ll also need to pay for living costs such as rent and bills, and day-to-day expenses including food and travel.

The best way of managing your money is to budget. Planning ahead will give you the greatest chance of staying solvent.

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It’s better to know that you have a problem than to bury your head in the sand

Budget calculator

Think of your budget as a financial health check: it shows you where you’re at (and fixes any problems) and helps keep you on the right track until your next check-up. You should aim to review your budget every four to six months, or every term if you prefer, so you know exactly where you stand.

Visit our online budget planner to get started.

View & download budget sheet

Or use our quick budget checklist...

Quick budget checklist (enter monthly totals)

Quick budget checklist (enter monthly totals)

Income

  • Job
  • Grant/Loan
  • Family gifts
  • Benefits
  • Maintenance
    loan

Bills

  • Rent
  • Gas/Elec/Water
  • TV licence
  • Mobile
  • Broadband
  • Insurance

Savings

How much will you save each month for special events and/or emergencies?

Living costs

  • Food
  • Travel
  • Books,
    stationery
  • Clothes
  • Household
  • Socialising
  • Presents

Income minus spending =

£ 0

Don’t panic if you end up with more coming out than going in. Check out our tips for getting the most from your money below or see our advice in Money Worries.

How to manage your day-to-day spending

Want to know where your money goes? Tracking your outgoings is the only way to keep your budget ‘in the black’.

It might not be glamorous, but it’ll help see you all the way through to graduation and set you up with good habits that will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life. It’s easy to stay on top of what you spend. Here are just a few of the apps you can use:

Check out these apps:

Spendometer helps make day-to-day money management simple and practical. Just log everything you spend and it’ll show you how much you’re paying out on a weekly and monthly basis. Set yourself a budget and spending limit.

Based on the old school ‘envelope method’, Goodbudget allows you to divide the money you have into ‘envelopes’ (transport, food, entertainment etc.), so that within each category you only spend up to what you have budgeted.

Also known as mySuperList, this app will help you avoid costly impulse purchases by preparing your list at home and sticking to it. Even better, find the best price for all items by comparing your entire list across 11 supermarkets. The app will also inform you about so-called SavvyBuys – items priced much cheaper than usual – and exclusive vouchers and saving suggestions.

MoneyLover is an all-in-one app for money management, offering a day-to-day expense tracker, weekly, monthly and yearly budget planner, and annual and quarterly overviews. The best feature, however, is the bill reminder, which will notify you when a bill payment is due.

Making ends meet: discounts and deals

Savvy students know that there are ways of making money go further. When you are out and about or buying something, don’t be too shy to ask if any student discount applies. Even having an ‘ac.uk’ email address could help.

Here are some tips and tricks to add to your accounting arsenal:

Food

  • Find out where your supermarket’s reduced section is and what time of day they start slashing costs, and make it your first port of call when shopping.
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Travel

  • Sometimes you have to get the bus or the train.
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Student stuff

  • Never buy new if you can get a recycled book for less.
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Vouchers

  • Everyone loves a freebie so always check to see if there’s a discount to be had.
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