How to Budget at University
University living and student budgeting go hand in hand! One of the great challenges of living alone for the first time is taking charge of your finances, and tracking them responsibly throughout your student life. Learning how to budget as a student, and do so effectively, is quite the challenge. Although it may seem like a daunting task at first, there are many tips and tricks to keep in mind, that will support you in your budgeting efforts. Below we will discuss things such as tips on keeping your expenses in check and ideas on things that will help you stay on top of your weekly expenditures, so you can begin to explore how to budget at uni. There are a number of things to consider, from the best student budget calculator to have on your radar, to the budgeting apps most commonly used in the UK, so keep on reading to get a glimpse into how to budget at university!
How Much to Budget at Uni
In order to figure out how much to budget for uni, a good first step would be to do some research into the estimated student costs per month. Save the Student features an average student living costs table which may prove useful, and which is based on their National Student Money Survey. This is indicative of the main costs for students, however, it’s good to keep in mind that different areas of the UK have different costs, with London being known for its more elevated cost of life. Also, things like if you are looking to share your accommodation or for something individual make a difference in your monthly budgeting as a student.
How to Budget as a Student
Regardless if you feel like you know how to go about handling your student money, or if you believe budgeting is a straightforward process, it’s likely you won’t have thought of some of the tips we have included in this section. So keep reading to discover new ways of getting ahead of your financial goals!
Cut Down on Non-Essentials
A few months into student life, differentiating non-essentials to must-do expenses becomes a seamless process. A bit of time is needed to get into that mindset though! A great tip to stick to your university budget, would be to ask yourself whether your upcoming expense is essential.
There is a great number of day-to-day expenses that you wouldn’t have thought you could substitute for free. Cooking more and cutting down on take-away is one of the most obvious money-saving tips. How about your gym membership though? If you have a nice park next to you, you could take up jogging and save up there. Or go the extra mile and cycle to uni if possible; that way you get to save on travelling expenses and stay active at the same time!
Sell Unwanted Items
The student life is an ideal opportunity to experiment with fashion, interior décor, literary taste and everything in between! It’s good to keep in mind that the things which you stop using or wearing might make excellent buys for someone else. The end of every term is one good example of a time during which a small closet clear-out could be useful.
There are many applications where you can find clothing, furniture and other bits and bobs second hand, as well as sell your own for a wardrobe refresh, or just to make some extra cash. Gumtree will have a lot of great deals on display any given day for, well, pretty much anything. If you are looking for secondhand furniture or a used bicycle, this is the place to visit. Ebay is one of the most well-known options for buying and selling, while Depop and Vinted are oriented towards secondhand clothes.
Switch to Cheaper Suppliers
If you haven’t opted for an all-inclusive student accommodation, or a flat share with bills included, then it’s likely you will have to deal with the utility bills yourself. This may prove a time-consuming task, but also one that can save you a few pounds throughout the month. Changing your suppliers could be a budget friendly process depending on what suppliers the previous tenants were using. A simple Google search will offer many options for supplier comparison platforms, which will help you make the most budget friendly choice for your utilities.
Use Budgeting Apps
Budgeting apps are a great way to keep track of your expenses and savings, especially during that first year when you are figuring it all out! There is a great variety of budgeting apps available for you to choose the most convenient ones for you. For example, if you have a number of costs to split with friends or flatmates, then Splitwise makes that whole “who paid what” process hassle free. PocketGuard is another much-talked about app which has been featured in Times and Forbes among others. The concept is simplifying the process of calculating how much money you have left to spend when your fixed monthly costs are put to the side! The GoodBudget is another budgeting app, which is a great option to keep track of a shared budget. Uncovering the most useful apps is an easy process, it just requires a bit of digging. Testing them out during your first term is what will give you the perfect combination of apps to use throughout your student life and see a difference in your bank account!
Use a Student Budget Planner
Using a student budget planner will definitely help you make sense of all the different costs you need to budget for. The concept is keeping track of all the money available to you to spend throughout the term, and how much you would be needing to cover your fixed expenses. What is left allows you to allocate spending for any other non-essential expenses and not go over-budget!
How to Create a Student Budget Planner
Now that we have pretty much covered all the cool budget saving tips you can make the most of during your student life, it’s time to jump into the “How To” of creating a student budget planner!
1. Work Out Your Monthly Income
The first step is to put all of your income in one coherent list to track it. This would most probably be a combination of things. For example, if you have a maintenance loan this could be combined with money from parents or part time work if you choose to make some additional income. The same applies for any income from a student loan.
2. Work Out the Cost of Your Essentials
Now it’s time to group together all the essential costs throughout the month. These would include larger sums such as rent, but also a variety of smaller bills that need to be taken into consideration. For example, if you are not living in an all-inclusive student accommodation, things like council tax and utilities might need to be considered. Similarly, student books or travel costs and groceries usually fall under the “essentials” category.
Some things to keep an eye out for may include:
– Council Tax
– Gas, Electricity
– TV License
– Phone Bill
– Oyster Card
3. Calculate the Cost of Your Non-Essential Expenses
Non-essential expenses are a key part of your monthly budget, and these can add up, especially if you don’t keep track of them! From nights out to eating out and enjoying events or doing some travelling with your friends, it’s important to get the full student experience while being smart about it! We have already recapped on some tips that will help you save money, to spend money, but there is more to the process than that.
It’s also important to keep in mind that money saving tips can be found pretty much everywhere. Many businesses offer student discounts, and if you are part of an accommodation then your accommodation may have even secured cool discounts across their local partnerships network (to learn more about The Stay Club’s partnerships, click here). Understandably, budgeting for university isn’t the most lavish affair. There are simply and easy changes you can make though, that may prove really smart financially.
Learning how to budget for uni is a process that requires researching things such as student finance, student bank account options and lots of other bits and bobs you may not have come across before (credit score who?). Although it may seem dull at first, it also invites students to be creative about their finances and think outside of the box!