Student budgeting tips - how to work out your budget and stick to it

25 July 2017

As a student, you’re likely very familiar with the feeling of not having enough money to do everything you want to do. Unless you’re directly related to the royal family or your father is the CEO of Goldman Sachs you could probably do with some smart student budgeting tips to help you make it through the month.

Don’t stress – we’ve got you covered. Working out a budget and sticking to it is not as difficult as it sometimes seems. Follow these 6 tips and you be able to save up enough for that new piece of tech or gorgeous handbag you have your eye on in no time – if you don’t spend all your spare money on nights out, of course! 

1. Spread your money out

This tip is probably the most important of our student budgeting tips. If you took out a student loan or received a bursary, don’t be misled by the substantial amount paid into your bank account at the start of the academic year.

Rather, take that amount, subtract your expenses and then divide it by the number of months you’ll be spending at uni. That – rather less impressive – amount is the figure you have to keep in mind and stick to every month.

2. Prioritise and be responsible

At the start of each month, pay the most important things first. Make sure your rent is covered and set aside enough money for groceries for the month. If you need to buy textbooks, now is also a good time to do this – before you accidentally use the money for something else.

Only once these things are paid for should you consider spending money on socials and luxuries like new clothes, and even then – proceed with caution and spend responsibly.

3. Be realistic

Students should be realistic when planning their budgets. Remember, not every month will look the same. You might have more friends with birthdays in one month, which will inevitably lead to many nights out. Or you might need to get your computer repaired or have to replace your backpack.

A realistic budget will have enough wiggle room to enable you to pay for these kind of things, without you having to live off baked beans during the last week of the month.

4. Be smart

There are many crafty ways you can cut down your expenses and stick to your budget without giving up too many of the things you love.

For example, you can switch to supermarket value brands, which are usually significantly cheaper and work just as well as, if not better than, their more expensive counterparts.

Or you can club together with your friends for food. Buying in bulk is more cost effective than cooking for one. As an added bonus you can take turns to cook, which means that you’ll not only save money, but also time.

5. Make sure you’re sticking to the budget

Another one of the best student budgeting tips out there is to use a budget calculator to find out where your money is really going. The Barclays student budget planner and the Money Advice Service budget planner are 2 good options.

These tools will help you determine exactly where your money is going, and will highlight areas you need to cut back on. If you’re spending exorbitant amounts on beer and burgers the planner will know!

6. Find a way to earn extra cash

If, after doing all of this you still struggle to make it through the month, we’d recommend looking for a way to make some extra money.

According to the Guardian 4 out of 10 students have a job while they study. You can also work over the holidays to save some money to get you through the next term. Full-time holiday work is usually tax-free, so it really is a win-win

Budgeting doesn’t have to be impossible. If you follow these tips you should be in a good financial position in no time, if you want some extra tips, read this latest guide to managing your finances. And as we are committed to helping you save, we have some specially tailored student storage offers to solve your storage problems without messing with your budget.