Preparing For University? How To Budget As A Student!

The results are in and you are off!

But wait – how are you going to fund it?

It is super exciting packing and preparing for uni, thinking about all the nights out, friends you’ll make and erm… studying. But there is some really important nitty-gritty stuff to get your head around too.

Being a student is more than fun and even though it is totally worthwhile, university can be hard on your bank balance. You’ll find some of you may have the bank of mum and/or dad to top you up or a part-time job, this isn’t always the case for everyone.

Here at Home for Students, we know the difference budgeting can make in those first few crucial weeks of term. 

If you can remain afloat during Freshers, you might as well be an accountant as you can budget through anything. 

Remember, doing something consistently for about 60 days makes a new habit become automatic behaviour so just keep at it. Here are our top tips for student budgeting at university.

1. Write Everything Down 

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Post-its, excel, your phone, budgeting apps (the best of the best can be found here), wherever you want, write down what money you have coming in from various sources (student loans, bursaries, wages, parents) and what your non-negotiables are.

Non-negotiables are stuff you have to pay, like food, tuition fees, rent, books, transport and bills (utilities, phone, insurance etc.). 

After you’ve calculated this, look at how much you have leftover for the month – this is what you can spend on nights out, takeaways, clothes, beauty, etc. 

There are tonnes of budget calculators that can help you estimate what you’ll spend but until you do it yourself, you won’t know your unique budget.

2. Bills First (Always)

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Payday!

At last, you can book that plane ticket or get that outfit.

Nope…now is time to think about your student budgeting regime.

When you see all that cash money in your account, the first thing you need to do is pay all your bills. 

Set up a direct debit the same day you get your payment from Student Finance so you aren’t tempted to make it rain!

3. Open A Student Bank Account

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As a student, you will receive a lump sum from Student Finance every term rather than a monthly payment.

That day you see all that cash in your account, it will seem like it will last forever. A word of caution, if you overspend at the beginning of the term, it is super hard to claw back that deficit and might mean you miss out on far more things later on in the term. 

By opening up another bank account, you can set up a direct debit from the one you receive your Student Finance money in and drip-feed your disposable income. 

Giving yourself a weekly allowance, after you’ve done your budgeting, means you are more likely to live within your means and possibly even save some money.

Monzo has a great rounding-up feature that saves your pennies without you noticing in a savings pot.

4. Jobs

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This has been mentioned briefly already, but if you can, and your schedule allows it, try and get a part-time job. 

Not only could this mean more disposable income, but it is also a great way to get some experience on that CV, meet new people and learn new skills. 

The student economy is booming and campus’, as well as neighbouring towns and cities, are always on the lookout for students. 

We’ve got a great blog here where you can find more side-hustles you can do as a student.

5. Check Your Entitlements

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Are you entitled to any extra cash through bursaries, scholarships and Student Finance?

If you have a disability, are from a low-income household or are in a career, you could be entitled to a lot more money – read our guide to Student Finance here

Check with your university if you qualify for any grants too, Student Services is usually a good place to start.

6. Shop Smart

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NUS cards aren’t there to just fill your wallet. Many shops offer student discounts on clothes, food, meals and more. 

Railcards are also key for your transport budget. You could save over a 1/3 in train prices which could be the difference between a night out or a city break. 

Bank accounts can also be student-friendly, so it is worthwhile to shop around for the best deals. Some high street banks offer freebies if you switch or give a cash incentive.

7. Love Pre-Loved

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We all want something new to wear from time to time, especially for a night out. 

Rather than going straight to the shops and buying brand new, check out local vintage and charity shops for some hidden gems. 

These are also great places to look for things for a themed night – it won’t break the bank and it’s good for the planet, you know recycling and all. 

Remember Depop and ASOS Marketplace are ideal for getting one-off items or everyday staples.

Clothes aren’t the only thing you can get second hand. Look for great deals on textbooks and reading books. 

Uni social media groups for ex-students selling course books is a good shout if you’re looking to save £££ on necessary reading. 

Kindle editions are also way cheaper (usually) than the real deal and Amazon has loads of sellers flogging used books in good condition. 

Furnishing your student accommodation with cute vintage trinkets, plant pots and throws adds some pre-loved homeliness to your room.

8. Sell, Sell, Sell

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You’ll be at uni for three years, and chances are you’ll want to upgrade your wardrobe, furnishings and maybe phone during that time. Sell whatever you want to replace.

Not worn an item of clothing for three months or forgotten you even have it? Put it on an online marketplace like Depop, Shopify, ASOS Marketplace, eBay etc. You might not get full whack for it but you’ll defo get something towards your upgrade. 

Textbooks are also a goldmine. Even if they are a bit tatty or have your notes, keen bean younger students will always want a good deal. As soon as you know you won’t need them again, start selling.

We hope you find these top tips worthwhile for your uni experience! Just remember, student budgeting is a key life skill that, if you can master it at university, you will be set for life!

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