As a UK university student, embarking on your academic journey is an exciting chapter in your life. However, it also comes with the responsibility of managing your finances effectively. From accommodation costs and everyday expenses, navigating the financial aspects of student life can be challenging.
Understanding the unique financial landscape you'll encounter as a UK student is crucial. Wherever you’re studying, budgeting is an essential skill that will empower you to make the most of your university experience without constantly worrying about money.
Saving Money as a Student: Why You Need a Budget
Creating a budget for a university student is an important step in managing your finances. It may not be the top of your priority list as a student – we know that budgeting can be pretty dull. But spending a bit of time working out what you need to spend money on each month or term will give you a lot more freedom to enjoy your time at university.
Budgeting Tips for Students
Your Monthly Income
To budget your money, start by working out how much money you have to play with. Think carefully about all possible sources of income. Your money could come from:
- Student loans
- Wages from part-time work
- Gifts or loans from parents
- Your savings
Don’t forget that your student maintenance loan will come in three instalments, which could be towards the start of each term.
Think about what you need to pay for at university. Split your outgoings into two categories: essentials and non-essentials. Essentials are things you have to pay regularly and can’t be skipped. Essential student payments include:
Non-essential payment include:
You can look at your bank statements to try and work out how much you’ll be spending. In some cases you’ll have to make an educated guess.
Already booked your accommodation? You should know whether bills are included, or if you need to pay for those separately.
If you haven’t sorted your accommodation yet, check out our range of student accommodation options!
- Bills (including gas, electricity, water, TV license, mobile phone etc)
- Course materials (including textbooks and any specialist equipment)
Non-essential payment include:
- Nights out (including taxis, club entry fees, alcohol and takeaways)
- Subscription services
- Gym membership
- Society/club memberships
- Haircuts and other beauty expenses
- Eating out
Calculate your student budget
Once you’ve worked out your expenses, try and break it down into a more manageable number. Take your total income for a term at university. Subtract your essential expenses and divide by the number of weeks you’ll be away (make sure to include Freshers!) Now you know how much you can spend on those non-essentials.
If you have £2000 to spend across a term, and your essential expenditure comes to £1000, you would have around £80 per week leftover for your nights out and other non-essentials.
The goal of your budget should be to spend less than your total income.
Money Saving Tips for Students
Look for student discounts
Student discounts are everywhere! But some are more obvious than others. Some shops will have signs at the till advertising their student discounts, some will mention it on their social channels. It’s always worth having a look online to see if your favourite shops offer savings for students. And it’s a good idea to ask in shops if they offer student discounts – keep your student ID on you as much as possible.
You might want to think about signing up for a TOTUM card. You might know it as an NUS card, having a TOTUM card unlocks a world of discounts – from supermarkets to the latest tech. there are different discount options available, including a free membership card. Check out TOTUM’s offerings here.
You might not be able to rely on the library or online copies for your textbooks. You might need to buy some key textbooks, but they can be expensive. Second-hand books are the way to go. Often students will only need the book for a particular module, and might look to sell when they’re done.
Keep an eye out for opportunities for textbook bargains – student Facebook groups are a good place to start.
Choose your supermarket carefully
After rent, groceries are probably going to be your biggest expense. But with a bit of savvy shopping, you can really stretch your food budget. Know how to cook? You’re at an advantage already. Making meals from scratch is a great way to save money – homemade food is significantly cheaper than takeaways and pre-made meals.
Try and do a big shop every week. If you’re going to the supermarket regularly, your spending will slowly creep up. And give some thought to which supermarket you go to – premium supermarkets will eat into your budget quicker than you realise. Free Microsoft Office?
You might be able to get Microsoft’s Office suite free of charge. Seriously. To see if your eligible, enter your university email address on the Microsoft website. It must be a university email, with your university’s domain. As well as Word, PowerPoint and Excel, you’ll get 1TB of Cloud storage with OneDrive – perfect for saving essays and other study materials. What’s not to like?!
With these budgeting tips for students, we hope you’ll be able to stretch your student loan further and get the most out of the upcoming year at university! And don’t forget – if you’ve not sorted accommodation yet, at CRM Students we’ve got the perfect room for you. Check out all of our student accommodation options.