Budgeting: a Guide to Get You Started
Budgeting at University is something that everyone has to do to some extent in order to make sure that they don’t go into debt. At the most basic level, you’re budgeting when you ask yourself “do I have enough money to buy this?”. But, if you want to be more prepared and have more of a plan on where your money is going, creating a budget will be very helpful.
The only problem is, where on Earth do you start?
First, you need to know how much money you have coming in:
- Do you have a student loan?
- Do you have money from family and friends?
- Do/will you have a job?
Then you need to think about your expenses. How much are you going to spend? Some things to think about are:
- Tuition fees – this will be set for your course and will be easy to find out. If you have a student loan for this, you won’t have to worry about it until it comes time to pay back the loan, but make sure you know if this is the case or not.
- Rent – this will depend on where you’re staying, once you know that, you will know what the rent is. For halls on campus, the rent is available on the accommodation website: https://warwick.ac.uk/services/accommodation/studentaccommodation/undergraduate/ugresidences
- Food – I suggest you come up with a rough meal plan for a month and then go onto a supermarket website (Tesco is 5-20 minutes away from campus depending where you are based) and adding up the costs of all the groceries you would need for that month, then add a small amount on as a buffer, to work out a rough cost of food per week. (As a guide, I budget £30 a week which is perfect for cooking meals, especially since I cook and buy in bulk, and then freeze food for later in the term).
- Phone – just note down how much your phone contract/pay-as-you-go costs you
- Household bills – if you’re not in halls you’ll have to pay for electricity, water, internet and possibly gas. To budget for this, find out how much you’ll be paying for this. Unfortunately I can’t help a lot in this area as I still live in halls so have not had to deal with this yet.
- Travel –
- If you live on campus this shouldn’t cost a lot at all during term time. Warwick uni is known as a bubble campus since everything you need is in walking distance. However, you may want to go out to Coventry or Leamington, in which case you can take the bus, either national express Coventry or stagecoach, or possibly an Uber or a taxi.
- If you don’t live on campus then go to the websites for stagecoach and national express Coventry to look at season tickets to get you to and from campus, and you may need to add a small amount for Uber’s or taxi’s when going on a night out.
- Don’t forget to budget traveling to and from home – look at prices for different types of travel and think about how often you want to go home as well (remember to check if you can stay in your accommodation over holidays as well)
- Entertainment – this is very personal to you but think about streaming services, how often you will want to go out and how much you’d want to spend on a night out etc. Basically, what do you like doing and how often do you like to do it? Events-wise, look on the SU website (https://www.warwicksu.com/events/) to see what sort of things are offered and how much they cost. But remember to leave yourself a buffer here for those spontaneous activities you end up doing.
- Laundry – with the campus circuit laundry, a wash and dry currently costs £4 so think about how often are you planning on doing your laundry and multiply the cost by the amount. Remember to add on the cost of detergent! If you’re not on campus, laundry should melt into energy and water prices (if you have a washing machine), you just need the price of detergent.
- Clubs and societies – these are great to be a part of so should definitely be included in your budget. Prices vary but you’ll have to pay some base fees to the SU, and then club membership fees. The best bet here is to look at the SU website for the prices of different societies and see what you’re interested in. (https://www.warwicksu.com/societies/ might be useful here).
- Sport – we have a brand new sports hub with many different memberships you may want to take advantage of (see https://warwick.ac.uk/services/sport/join/).
Looking at these 10 areas should give you a good idea of how much you’re going to spend at Uni. But basically, think of what you want to do day to day, and then add up how much all of that will cost.
Once you have a rough idea of both your income and your expenditure, check to make sure that your planned expenditure is less than your expected income.
Hopefully this has helped. If you have any questions feel free to ask. And remember, a budget is just a plan, you can change it at any time you want, just try to keep your expenditure lower than your income and you’ll be fine.