Sorting out a budget might not be your top priority as a busy uni student, but you should consider it!

Creating a personalised budget can help you make the most of your student loan and make sure you always have enough money to last until the next instalment. Plus, it’ll allow you to set aside money for savings goals, like your summer holiday or a festival you’ve always wanted to go to.

Not sure where to start when it comes to creating a student budget? We’ve broken it down into three simple steps to help you out.

1. Work out how much money you have coming in

The first step will be assessing how much money you have coming in per month. This should be pretty easy to work out. Here’s a list of everything you might need to consider:

  • Maintenance loan instalments
  • Bursaries, grants or scholarships you’re receiving
  • Income from part-time jobs (if you make different amounts each month, try to work out a rough average – always round down if you’re unsure)
  • Money from your parents or guardians, if they’re able to help you out. Try to agree on a fixed amount per week, month or term to make budgeting easier.

Don’t include your overdraft or credit card limit as a part of your incomings.

Once you’ve noted all your incomings, work out how much you have coming in per month. Your student loan instalments from Student Finance (and any scholarships or grants) will likely be paid at the start of each term, while money from a job and your parents will likely be paid on a weekly or monthly basis.

Divide your student loan instalment (and any scholarships or grants) by the number of months in that term to give you how much you’ll have per month. Add this to your part-time income and any money from your parents to give you your total monthly income.

2. Work out how much money you have going out

The next step in creating your student budget will be to work out how much money you have going out each month. It’s a good idea to start with your essential expenses – a big chunk of this will be your rent and bills.

Here’s everything you’ll need to consider when it comes to calculating your essential outgoings.

  • Accommodation costs or rent. In first-year university accommodation, this’ll likely be paid per term. However, in a privately rented student house, you’ll likely pay per month.
  • Household bills (if not included in your accommodation costs). This typically includes gas, electric, water and broadband.
  • Insurance (for example, contents insurance, phone insurance and car insurance).
  • A TV licence if you plan on watching live TV or BBC iPlayer.
  • Your mobile phone or SIM contract.
  • Food shopping (work out an average of how much you typically spend)
  • Travel expenses (e.g. bus tickets or bus pass, train tickets to visit home or petrol money)
  • Course supplies (e.g. textbooks, set reading materials, and stationary).
  • Subscriptions or standing orders(e.g., gym memberships and streaming services)

Like with your outgoings, you’ll need to work out how much your expenses will be per month. If you pay for your accommodation termly, you’ll need to calculate how much this costs per month.

Remember, this isn’t a list of all your outgoings – just your essential living costs.

3. Calculate your weekly or monthly budget

Once you have numbers for your monthly income and your essential outgoings, you can work out how much money you have left over. Subtract your essential monthly outgoings from your monthly income. The number you get is how much money you have for fun stuff and savings each month.

Bear in mind that this figure can fluctuate; which means it might also be a good idea to look at getting a part-time job. Popular methods of lowering any of your essential expenses could also include:

  • Walking to uni rather than paying for the bus.
  • Buying second-hand coursebooks rather than brand-new ones.
  • Cancelling any unnecessary or expensive subscriptions.

Based on the money left over after your calculation, you can work out your monthly budget for all your non-essential spending. This could potentially include:

  • Clothes, shoes and accessories
  • Eating out
  • Takeaways
  • Nights out
  • Hobbies or sports
  • Entertainment, e.g. cinema tickets.
  • Haircuts or beauty treatments
  • Books
  • Christmas birthday presents
  • Holidays
  • Festival or gig tickets
  • Savings

You don’t have to have a monthly budget for all your non-essential spending, but it can be a good idea to budget a specific amount for certain categories. For example, if you know you tend to spend money on pricy nights out, you might set a monthly budget for this to avoid over-spending. Whatever you do, it’s good practice to ensure your monthly spending doesn’t exceed your total budget for non-essential expenses!

Some things can be really difficult to budget for, especially things that you might only buy occasionally, like presents, festival tickets or flights. Consider setting aside some money each month to save for these items. For example, you might open a savings account or savings pot and save some money each month for your summer break. When the time comes to start arranging plans with friends, you’ll have the money ready to go.

Bonus step: track your spending

Although creating a student budget is a great place to start,  you should aim to track your spending to make sure you’re actually sticking to it!

When it comes to creating a budget and tracking your spending, you can use a couple of different methods.

Go old school with a spreadsheet

If you want to keep things simple, using a spreadsheet is the best way to go. You can create your own or use an existing template. This student budget spreadsheet from Nottingham Trent University is a great option – you can select the month and fill out your monthly income and expenses. Then, it’ll automatically determine how much money you have left over. Save the Student also has a round-up of student budgeting calculators, which you can check out.

Keep track with helpful budgeting apps

There are loads of budgeting apps out there which are designed to help you keep track of your spending. This is ideal if you do most of your spending with your card or online rather than paying with cash.

Some apps can link to your bank account and automatically track how much you spend on each category. Just make sure the app is reputable, well-known and has plenty of positive reviews, as it’ll have access to your financial information.

Here are some budgeting and banking apps with free options:

  • Cleo. This AI assistant is designed to help you manage your money, improve your budgeting and offer financial advice. Cleo works through Facebook and takes a read-only look at your bank accounts. You can set budgets, and your spending is automatically categorised to help you keep track of your finances.
  • Plum is a money management app that links to all your bank accounts and credit cards to give you a complete picture of your spending. It can automatically save small amounts of money by rounding up your transactions.
  • Emma is a budgeting tool that connects to your bank accounts and allows you to track your spending, stay out of your overdraft and cancel wasteful subscriptions. There’s a free plan and several paid-for plans offering more personalised insights into your spending.
  • Money Lover. This simple and free app offers an easy way to track your spending, but you’ll need to manually input your transactions as it doesn’t link to your bank account.

Make budgeting easier with Split The Bills

It can be tricky to create and stick to your monthly budget, especially when you’re not sure how much your household bills will be each month. Why not make your budgeting simpler with our trusted bill-splitting service?

Split the Bills is designed for students and young professionals living in shared houses – we aim to make your lives easier by bundling all your bills into one neat payment which stays the same each month. Our team will set up utility accounts on your behalf. You only need to pay your portion of the shared utility bills each month.

You can personalise your bill package to include water, energy, broadband and also a TV licence if you plan on watching live TV. Your water and energy plan are uncapped, so you’ll pay the same amount each month, making it easy to create your monthly budget!

Get in touch with our team to see if our simple-to-use service is right for you, or learn more about how we work.

Split The Bills are not a financial advisor. This should not be considered as professional financial advice. Do your own research and consult a professional financial advisor before making any financial decisions.



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