5 Top Tips for Budgeting at University
Coming to university is a big step, particularly as many of you will be living on your own for the first time and will be responsible for your own spending on accommodation, food, going out and more. It might feel stressful to manage if you have never had to budget before, so here are some top tips on how to manage your finances and make your money last throughout the year!
1. Make a budget
This might sound obvious to many of you, but one of the most important ways to budget for university life is – you guessed it – making a budget!
This is the best way for you to see what money you have coming in and what expenses you need to cater for, including purchases for things that you need, and also on what you want or enjoy. It’s important not to blow all of your student loan in the first month, so writing up a budget will help you plan your spending for the entire year to avoid any unnecessary stress about your finances and so that you can enjoy your time at uni!
To make a budget you will need to know the following in order to make your money last throughout the year:
It’s important to know how much money you will have at university, so you can carefully plan how much you will have to spend. For the majority of students, the main source of income will come from your Maintenance Loan that is paid in 3 instalments, directly into your bank account at the beginning of each term.
Your Maintenance Loan will depend on your household income, and you should have already received your entitlement summary for the year. You can view this through the Student Finance England website by logging in to your account, where you will see the amount that will be paid to you in total, as well as how much you will receive each term.
When writing up your income for the duration of your studies, remember to also include any savings you might have stored away for university, any money from your parents or guardians, any extra money that you might receive through scholarships or bursaries, and your salary if you have a part-time job.
You can put all of this information into a spreadsheet on your computer, and create a total income of all of these added together for the year. For more help with creating a budget, and to find a template, the Save the Student website is a great resource to use!
Your Essential Expenses
Once you have calculated how much money you have coming in, you can now start to think about how much money will be coming out of your bank account.
Your essential expenses will include the rent for your accommodation, money for food shopping, bills (like gas and electric, water, mobile phone contract, and internet), transport costs, and any materials or resources that you might need for your course.
Once again, put all of these individual expenses into a spreadsheet, and then generate a total estimate of your essential spending for the year!
Your Non-essential Expenses
Aside from your essential spending, it’s also important to make sure you enjoy yourself and cater for your non-essential outgoings.
You can calculate your weekly spending on things that you enjoy by subtracting your essential expenses from your total income for the year. Divide this number by the number of weeks in each term. This will then give you the amount that you have leftover to spend as you wish!
This includes how much money you will spend on nights out, going out for food and getting takeaways, and other recreational activities.
Throughout the year, you will also need to consider your spending on other expenses such as gym memberships, haircuts, buying new clothes, travel costs and events, that will come out of this weekly budget!
2. Open up a student bank account
Make sure to do your research before coming to university when looking into opening a student bank account. Each bank will offer different perks, and you can find a comparison of all the different deals to work out which will work best for you!
If you are in need of some extra financial support during your studies, it might be worth opting for a student bank account that offers an overdraft with 0% interest. This means that you only pay back what you borrowed before you graduate, and you can even choose how big your overdraft needs to be!
Other student bank accounts will also offer other perks like railcards and vouchers, so make sure you shop around before you decide!
Some students have also found it beneficial to have 2 separate bank accounts to manage their spending. If you decide to do this, you could use one account for all of your income and essential spending, and another account to transfer money to for your non-essential outgoings. This means that you can keep your budgeting in check each week!
3. Get a job
If you are wanting to earn money during your studies, many students also work part-time throughout university, allowing them to have more money to save or spend on things they enjoy!
There are often a range of jobs available in Exeter, and the university’s Career Zone has a useful resource so that you can search for temporary and part-time roles, both at the university and in the local area.
4. Look for any scholarships or bursaries that you might be eligible for
The University of Exeter has a number of scholarships and bursaries that you might be eligible for to support you financially throughout your studies. You can find out more information on the university’s funding database, including funding for undergraduate and masters courses, and funding for international students.
There is also the Access to Exeter Bursary (ATE) which will be automatically awarded to students based on their household income. Information about this bursary can be found here. This is for students who have a lower household income, however, we can only award this if students or parents do not opt out of consenting to share financial details on Student Finance England.
5. Book an appointment with the Advice Service
If you are feeling stressed or concerned about your finances during your time at university, remember there is help.
At the Students’ Guild, you can make use of the Advice Service where one of the trained advisors will be able to inform and advise you on any financial issues, including loans, bursaries, financial hardship, and budgeting.
This is a great resource here at the university, and we encourage incoming students to make use of this support if you need it!