how to budget as a student

Once you get your student loans, you may feel like you're quids in. However, you need to make this money last the whole year, that's why you need to know how to budget as a student. Budgeting is essential for your financial security, making sure you can pay your bills, any rent, and for things required for your studies.

We know this sounds boring, but budgeting should be one of the things you do as soon as your student loan comes in. Your student loan comes in in three instalments throughout the year, so it will seem like you have loads of cash to splash during freshers' week, but you don't. Don't be one of those students eating pot noodles for the rest of your uni course because you much spent all your cash on one Friday night bender.

How To Budget

How to budget, then? There isn't a wrong or right way to budget, as long as you choose a way that you can stick to. Some people like to use a spreadsheet, others like using a notepad. Some people like using mobile apps that track their spending.

You will need to find record-keeping of your finances easy and not a chore, so chose the best method for you. Once you have chosen your method, the time is now to figure out what your income and outgoings are.


Income

Your student income is your student loan and maintenance loan. Of course, this varies from person to person. Your loan may be higher or lower depending on what uni you're at, what course you're taking and if you're living in student accommodation or not.

Outgoings

You should have some fixed outgoings, like your accommodation rent, travel expenses and various bills. These outgoings don't change and are usually the same each month. So you already know how much of your student loan is left over once you paid these off.

Please note; your fixed outgoings costs will need to last until your next student loan instalment. The instalment happens typically at the start of each term. Usually 3 to 4 times a year.

Whatever you have leftover, is what you can spend on other things until your next student loan instalment arrives. You may use this money for groceries, equipment and materials needed for your uni course. You can spend this on clothes, subscriptions and more. You may be surprised how little you have leftover.

Maybe it's a good idea to find a part-time job while you're at uni?

Student Budget

A student budget is different from a regular budget. You have a finite amount of money that needs to last for a while. Mastering the art of budgeting now will guarantee you to become a budgeting pro once you enter the world of full-time work. Believe us when we say this a good thing.

However, there are a few things you need to be wary of when spending your student money. Try to avoid using cash machines that charge you for withdrawals. You should also check out what type of contents insurance you have and how you're covered. If you're living in shared accommodation, perhaps you can split this bill with your roommates. There are hidden costs that can jeopardise your student budget.

Typical Student Budget

Here are some things you may find on a typical student budget;

Coming in;

  • The income of student loans
  • The income of bursaries and maintenance loans
  • The income of work

Going out;

  • Rent
  • Insurance (Content/Car)
  • Utilities (Gas/Electricity/Water)
  • Internet
  • Mobile phone
  • TV Licence
  • Food Shopping
  • Travel costs (Public Transport/Petrol)
  • Drinking and eating out
  • Hobbies
  • Clothes
  • Tickets (Gigs/Cinemas)
  • Gym
  • Haircuts
  • Course Materials
  • Large one-off purchases (Laptop/Bike)
  • One-time purchases (Birthdays/Christmas)

Free Things To Do

Luckily, there are plenty of fun things to do for free in the UK. You don't have to go out for drinks all the time!


  • Going to Museums and Art Galleries - not only will you have a culture buzz, you may find going to museums and art galleries fun. Especially on a cold rainy day.


  • Go to the beach - if your university is on the coast, take advantage of your sandcastle building skills.


  • Go hiking - a pleasant walk or bike ride will do you wonders, and if you can go with friends, the better.


  • Go stargazing - you will be amazed at how relaxing and cool this can be. (Especially if you're going with your crush.)


  • Have a picnic - Ok, you may have to spend a little bit of money on this one, but it will be super cheap, as long as you don't picnic with bottles of champagne.


  • Go to the Sky Garden - if you're based in London, see the view for free.


  • Have a water fight- on those hot sticky days, organise a water fight in your local park.


  • Go on a walking tour - not only is the (Harry) Potter Trail in Edinburgh free, so is The Tolkien Trial in Birmingham.

While you're here, have a look at our tips on how to get a job to help you with your student budget. Alternatively, register and upload your student CV for free on StudentJob.

All about everything else