How To Live On A Student Budget At University

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Editorial Team
August 1, 2023
Last updated:
April 23, 2024
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To help you better navigate your financial world, I have composed a list of tips from my own experience to provide a little guidance when it comes to budgeting at university. 

Tip 1: Determine your income

This is the cornerstone of any student budgeting plan; you need to know how much money is coming into your account to determine how much capital you have to spend. 

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As a student, your maintenance loan comes in three instalments – don’t spend it all at once, you don’t want to end up living on rice and beans waiting for the next loan to drop. Trust me.

Tip 2: Calculate your expenses 

Knowing how much money is coming in is a great start, but you’ll need to know roughly how much is going out too. Rent, food, books, bills and transport are all fixed costs that you absolutely cannot avoid, so once those are accounted for, only then can you think about buying that jumper you’ve been eyeing up on Depop.

Tip 3: Work out your weekly student budget

This is the amount of money left after all the essential bills have been covered, spread out over the number of weeks you have between receiving loan payments. You can spend it on whatever you like! You might want to set some aside to save up for future adventures. 

Tip 4: Stick to your student budget but be adaptable

It’s all well and good working out your weekly budget but sticking to it is another story. Sometimes you may incur unexpected costs – your car could break down or you may need to replace your old phone charger. These things are bound to happen, so you must learn to be adaptable whilst aiming to stay within your budget, otherwise you’ll simply run out. If unforeseen costs begin to take a toll or you do not have enough to make ends meet, you may want to consider a part-time job to increase your income or lowering your expenses using the tips below.

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Tip 5: Make your money last 

1.     Know the difference between wanting something and needing it – you probably don’t need a new pair of Air Max’s…just put them down.

2.     Recognise where you’re wasting your money. Monzo is a great budgeting tool that categorises your finances for you. It really helped me to see what I spent too much money on (usually drinks at the pub). If you want to stay with your current bank however, there are plenty of budgeting apps you can use. 

3.     Keep your spending money in a separate bank account. This makes it easier to keep track of how much you have left.

4.     Don’t spend too much on things that have cheaper alternatives. Shop in Aldi rather than Waitrose. Instead of eating out, learn to cook! Do home workouts to save the money you’d spend on a gym membership.

5.     Recycle your items. Sell your old clothes and uni books on eBay. Even a little extra cash can go a long way. 

6.     Check regularly to see if you’re getting the best deals on your bills, there are usually cheaper alternative. Make the most of student discounts too, there are lots of offers on Unidays

7.     Work your social life into your expenses. Sticking to your budget can feel like a chore if you don’t have anything to look forward to, so catering for things like nights out will help keep you on track.

 Learning to budget may seem a little daunting at first, but at its core, it’s really quite simple. The better you become at budgeting your finances, the more money you can start to save. Here’s to never eating rice and beans again!

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