How to create a budget and save money at University

Student’s have a lot to think about when they go to university; accommodation and flatmates, packing a toothbrush, freshers week outfits and above all…money.

Let’s face it, for most of us, money is definitely an issue and there is never enough of it. Student loans never seem to quite make it to the end of term and it can feel like scraping the teeniest slither of butter from a tub when you are trying to make it to the end of term, you’re deep in to your overdraft and you have no other source of income. Fear not! I am going to help you! I am going to dive in to my top tips for creating a budget and saving money whilst you are at university. Whilst aimed at Uni students, these tips can apply to anyone who needs to be a bit smarter with their cash!

Know what you have got coming in and going out of your bank, down to the very last penny

It sounds so obvious, but sometimes looking at our bank balance can be a bit depressing and we would rather not know. But trust me, you need to know exactly what money you have coming in to your account and leaving your account every single month.

First of all, make a list of what money you have coming in and when it arrives

You can’t make a budget until you know what you are working with. Write down your sources of income over the course of the term (or the month if you are an OU student like me and study alongside work). These might be:

  • Student loan and the dates it is due to arrive
  • Grants and bursaries you are entitled to and any additional support you may also be entitled to such as Disabled students allowance.
  • Any cash from your job if you have one
  • Money from the bank of Mum and Dad, if you are lucky
  • Any savings that you have for Uni

You will notice that I haven’t included a student overdraft here. Personally, if you can avoid getting a student overdraft then that is ideal. I am not naive though, and I know some of us need it. I certainly did when I went to University at 18! For advice on the best student accounts, I recommend checking out this link: Student Bank Account Guide

Work out what your expenses are

Next, start making a list of all of your current or predicted expenses and how much each one comes to. I’ve put together a list of the sort of things you should be thinking about:

  • Accommodation fees
  • Utilities such as gas, electric, Internet and water (if this isn’t included)
  • Phone Bill
  • Subscriptions such as Amazon prime, Netflix and Disney +
  • Food and Drinks (not the alcoholic kind, the kind you need to actually survive. Alcohol is an additional extra!)
  • Course Supplies
  • Contents insurance
  • Travel/Fuel
  • Toiletries
  • Extras such as birthdays and nights out

Creating the budget

Now you have worked out your incoming money and outgoings, you need to create a budget. There are so many ways to do this, but I personally prefer putting pen to paper or using an excel sheet. To work out your budget, simply take away your expenses from your incoming money, to see what you are left with.

To figure out how much you can spend, you need to work out how long that money needs to last you for. This might be when your next paycheck or student loan comes in. I find the easiest way to manage money is to divide the money up over how many weeks I have until my next paycheck and then going from there.

Budgets are not set in stone

Life happens and sometimes what we need to spend one week, will be higher or lower than the next. We also may incur unexpected costs such as our car breaking down or needing to buy a notebook that we didn’t budget for that week. Whatever it might be, you need to make sure that you have some kind of savings for emergencies (a night out is not an emergency! Try in-cooperating a budget for nights out in to your weekly plan).

Saving Money

If you already have savings, that is great! However, if you are just starting out on managing money and budgeting, do not worry. You can soon build up some savings and create an emergency fund. The easiest way to do this is to cut down on your expenses. Here is a list of ways you can do that!

  • Get rid of unnecessary subscription services. For example, I live with my boyfriend so we share one Netflix account and one amazon account. Between yourself and your flatmates, you can look at any costs that could potentially be shared in this regard.
  • Start a milk club! If you do live with others and drink the same type of milk, create a milk club pot where you all contribute to things like milk, tea bags and coffee to split the cost.
  • Do not live off takeaways. Takeaway companies will lure you in with student deals, but it is not a deal if you are spending more money than you need to. Cook at home and shop at Aldi. Do not buy brand labelled food if you can help it. A baked bean is a baked bean, guys. Just get yourself some herbs and spices!
  • Get a job! Seriously, brush up that CV and look for a job like crazy if you can. If you cant find a job, try creating your own stream of income! Have you got any skills such as tutoring that you can charge for? Are you an artist or savvy with a sticker machine? Think of ways you can create things to sell either physically or online to make an extra form of income. I make a small amount of money from my blog and Instagram on top of working full time and although it’s not much, it is something!
  • Buy second hand instead of brand new and ask yourself if you actually need something before you buy it.

Tools to help you budget

I’ve included some of my favourite tools below to help you create a budget! (contains affiliate links). If you have come from my newsletter, the free monthly budget planner i created is a great way to start! If you want to take it to an extra level, check out some of these resources below!

Clever Fox Budget Planner Notebook

Money envelopes to stop you using your debit card and create a cash budget!

I hope you have found these tips helpful! Make sure to subscribe to my newsletter and blog so you never miss a post and can gain access to hundreds of freebies and resources!

xo Beth