Advice & Wellbeing
How to budget at Uni
Benefits of budgeting
Moving to uni is a great opportunity to start budgeting. It helps you to see exactly how much you can spend and what your limit is, so that you avoid spending to the extent of being left with almost nothing before your next student loan.
How to budget..
Establish your income!
First of all, you need to establish exactly how much money you have coming into your bank account. This will shape the rest of your budget.
Estimate your spending
So next step, you need to figure out what you're spending all of your money on. You can look through your bank statements to add up all of your purchases or put in a rough (realistic) estimate. If you have a Monzo or Revolut bank account, they add up all of your spending and put it into categories. They also send you notifications when you are heading over-budget in each area, so I would really recommend signing up to these.
Essential student expenses include:
- travel costs
- nights out
- eating out
- haircuts (& other beauty expenses)
Figure out your weekly budget
So now you have all of your expenses laid out in front of you, it's time to break it down into a weekly budget:
- Work out your total income for a term at uni
- minus your essential expenses
- divide the number you are left with by the number of weeks in a term
- You now have your weekly budget (e.g. how much money you have to spend on non-essential things every week)
e.g. if your income across first term is £3,000 and your essential expenditure adds up to £1,500, you would have £125 a week (across a 12-week term).
Next step: Set yourself some goals
Whether you need to budget to get by, or you're trying to cut back, it's all about setting goals to either reduce your spending or boost your income.
e.g., If you realise you're spending £50 on takeaways each month, you could try reducing it to half of that amount.
So now you've got your budget all set up, here are a few practical savings steps to help you get off to a rolling start!
- Ask yourself: do you want this, or need it? Spend your money on the stuff you need first, and save the 'wants' for special occasions
- Try to cut out the everyday money-draining items, (we're talking coffees, cigarettes, takeaways...) that eat into your finances
- Make sure you're getting all the Student Finance that you're entitled to, including any grants, bursaries or scholarships up for grabs
- Give yourself a set allowance for each of your spending areas, such as going out or food shopping – and stick to it. If at the end of the month you've under spent in one area, you can carry that over to the next month, or use it to supplement your budget in another area for that month. Shopping trip!
- If you really struggle to track daily spending, take a set amount of cash out at the start of the week and use that instead of paying by card
- If you can manage it, always siphon off some of your income at the start of the month and put it into a savings account or ISA. If you make it to the end of the month with cash to spare, squirrel that away for a longer-term spend instead of blowing it on a quick fix
- Recycle everything. If you’re done with something, and it's still usable, sell it on for cash or swap it for something else (Hello Depop). Likewise, never buy new if you can get it just as good from someone else for less cash. This works for clothes, furniture, textbooks, you name it
- Open a second bank account for any lump sums you receive (maybe your loan, grant, or some inheritance money perhaps) and set up a direct debit so it drip-feeds into your current account in small doses. This way, you won't go crazy on the spending when a chunk of cash comes in, but you'll still benefit from a little bit of extra cash each month.
- Planning ahead does wonders for your bank balance. This applies to weekly meals, nights out and even the odd occasion when you decide to eat out. Try to know what you're doing and when as much as possible so you can plan ahead and budget accordingly
- That said, don’t live like a monk 24/7. It's important to still have fun and do the things you love! Just plan ahead for splurges so you're never left with any nasty surprises on your bank statement
- Be your own person. Don’t concern yourself with how much money your friends are making or spending – just stick to your own budget and keep your eyes on the prize. It'll pay off eventually, promise!
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