How to plan your budget

Making the most of your money is essential for making the most of your uni experience

If you’re starting uni later this year, you might be wondering how you’ll afford it. Living away from home for the first time or being new to London can make it hard to predict what you’ll spend.

When you plan a budget and you’re clear about what money you have to spend, you’ll have a better time at uni without so many money worries.

To help you out, we’ve broken down the basics of budgeting into some easy to follow steps.

1. Look at how much money is coming in

This won’t take too long as it’s usually a much shorter list than all the money that’s going out.

Here’s what to think about:

  • Your Student Loan
  • Grants, bursaries, sponsorships or scholarships
  • Funds from your parents — if they’re able to help you, it’s helpful to agree in advance how much they’re offering to give you each week, month or term
  • Work income
  • Savings you’re planning to use at uni.

2. Work out how much money is going out

This part is more complicated and depends on your personal circumstances. Go through these categories and make an estimate of your outgoings. Try looking through your past bank statements to see what you spend in a typical month.

This student budget calculator is a useful tool to try.

University

  • Tuition fees - if you don’t have a Student Loan
  • Accommodation fees
  • Course extras such as specialist equipment or field trip costs.

Household bills

  • Contents insurance - check with your parents, as may already be covered in their policy
  • Utilities - gas, electricity and water
  • Broadband and TV licence
  • Mobile phone
  • Food shopping.

Travel

  • Public transport  — rail, bus, underground
  • Fuel
  • Car insurance and tax

Little extras

  • Coffee, snacks and meals out
  • Clothes
  • Cinema and gig tickets
  • Music or TV services - Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify
  • Books, magazines and games
  • Gym membership and fitness classes
  • Haircuts and beauty treatments.

Big extras

  • Christmas
  • Holidays
  • Festivals
  • Birthdays
  • One-off things — like a car or a laptop.
  • 3. Calculate what’s left to spend

    Take what’s going out from what’s coming in, and then divide it by the number of weeks during a term. What’s left is what you have to spend each week.

    The UCAS budget calculator is a useful tool to help with the maths.

  • 4. Keep track of your spending

    When you’ve planned your budget, you’ve got to plan how to record what you spend.

    • Try an app — something like Pariti which connects to your bank account or this Spending Tracker. Make sure it’s a trustworthy app as you’ll be sharing your financial information with it!
    • Use a spreadsheet for expenses — you can create your own or check out these recommendations for free budget spreadsheets.

    By going through this process, you’ll realise just how easy it is to keep track of where your money is going each month, and what you can afford to spend.

What if you run out of money?

Many students end up with a negative bank balance at some point during uni. Don’t worry too much — instead, take action and look for positive changes that you can make.

Make plans for saving on areas of your budget where you’re spending too much and think about ways to get more money coming in such as part-time work.

Get more advice

Tips from our students

We were live with students Azize, Maria and Mina to get their practical money saving tips.

Watch the video for their advice on budgeting, working while you study and how to make your money go further in London.

Get in touch

Contact us for more guidance on how much uni costs and how to get financial support.

Ask us a question

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