University Student Budgeting Tips

A quick, no-nonsense guide to managing your money whilst at university

Managing your money is a skill. The only way to get good at it is to practice. If you’ve not had much opportunity to practice before getting to university, then you need to learn fast to make your time at uni as stress-free as possible.

Here’s our quick, no-nonsense guide of what to do and what to avoid when managing your money at university.

Top 10 Things To Budget For At University

1.    Accommodation

Most students will start their university life in halls of residence. After this, you will likely look at the student lettings market for an apartment or house to share with some friends. Your monthly rent could be one of your biggest expenses when you’re studying. But of course, it’s also one of the most important things you will spend your money on.

Fortunately, this is one expense amount that will remain constant, compared with things such as food and other purchases which are likely to vary each month. This certainly helps when it comes to budgeting.

2.    Food

How much you spend on food will vary depending on where you shop and how much you cook. Eating out every night and living on takeaways is going to be out of most students’ price range. You can comfortably feed yourself on £75 a month, but do be smart with your choices! If budget brands taste just as nice, then opt for these instead of the premium options.

3.    Travel

You need to have enough money to get to and from your lectures. What’s more, you’ll need some cash to get out and about to explore your new surroundings as well as back home in the holidays.

4.    Utilities

You need to check if your utilities are included in your rent, if not then you’ll need to put money aside for this every month.

5.    Internet

Even when your other utilities (electricity and gas) are included in your rent, your internet might not be.

6.    Phone

Student holding mobile phone

If you can’t live without it, make sure you can pay for it. Shop around to make sure you’re on the best deal for your usage.

7.    Clothes

You don’t want to blow all your money on clothes, but you will likely want some new items and probably some uni merch like a hoody. The average monthly spend on clothing for students is £42.

8.    Books

Whatever course you’re on your going to need some books. The library can be a good option, so can buying second-hand books. These often go fast, so look early and often.

9.    Socialising

A huge part of going to university is the social life. So you’ll need to make sure that you’re putting aside a bit of money for this as it often comes at a significant cost.

10.    Insurance

Insurance is certainly worth considering to ensure all your prized possessions are protected.

Hidden Costs To Be Aware Of

Some costs of university life can sneak up on you. If you’re not on top of your budget, they can push you into the red. Here are a few things to look out for.

Some Cash Machines Will Charge You

Many freestanding cash machines that you see inside pubs will charge you when you withdraw money. If you’re going to need cash, try to plan ahead and get it from a free ATM.

Fresher’s Week

Fresher’s week can be expensive. There are lots of events going on and lots of new things to try and explore. You need to aware that your loan might not be in your bank account at the start of fresher’s week. Make sure you know when it arrives so that you don’t end up overdrawn before term properly even starts.

Accidents Will Happen

It is worth having a small emergency fund. You can’t predict everything that’s going to happen, and having a pillow of cash can make life a lot easier. If your phone breaks, for instance, what would you do?

Subject Specific Costs

Engineering student

Depending on the subject you’re studying there may be some extra costs that you need to account for. For example, science students may need lab coats and safety equipment, and some have to pay a glass deposit. Medical students often have to pay for medical items or uniform. Art students might have field trips. Anyone who will be working with children or vulnerable adults may need to budget for a DBS check.

5 Top University Budgeting Tips

Here are a few tips to help keep you on track with your money.

1.    Know How Much You Can Spend Each Month

Take the time to calculate how much of your student loan you be leftover with after you’ve paid your fixed costs. It’s easier to avoid overspending if you know what your hard limit is.

2.    Ask For Student Discounts

A lot of places offer student discounts, but don’t advertise it. Whenever you get to a till make it a habit to ask if they offer a student discount.

3.    Make Shopping Lists

Shopping lists don’t just help you remember the essentials. They also stop you from impulse buying. Make a list, and stick to it.

4.    Learn To Cook

Cooking at home can save you a lot of money. If you have a freezer, you can batch cook and eat decent meals for a lot cheaper.

5.    Use Cash and Leave Your Bank Card At Home

When you go out for the night, take only cash. If you leave your bank card at home, you can’t spend more than you intended on the spur of the moment.

While it is important to be mindful of money and careful with your budget, remember you’re at uni to see and experience new things, so don’t limit yourself from getting out and about and enjoying yourself!

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Student holding books