- Student Support & Wellbeing
- Campus Life
- Careers & Employability
- Local Life
- Part-Time Work
- Preparing for University
- Social Life
Let’s talk budget 💰
Coming to uni means more independence and that includes control over your finances. So, how much money do you need? Is it possible to budget? Might it even be possible to save? Here’s some insight!
Note: talking about money can be uncomfortable for some people – remember some people will have less than you, and some people have more. Be mindful and respectful!
(1) Write it all out
One of the first steps is to write down your expected income and expenses. Whether your income is Student Finance, your parents, or your own salary, you should have some estimate about how much you’re going to have for each month, for example. If you’re not using Student Finance, your income may change depending on your or your parents employment so don’t worry about being exact, just make a smart guess and write it down.
After working out your approximate income, make an estimate about how much you’re going to spend. Note down the set costs such as your rent, any bills like your phone, any travel costs like maybe a bus pass.
Once you’ve worked out the set costs, you can determine how much you can spend on groceries, eating out, drinking, etc.
(2) Shop smart
If your budget allows, feel free to shop at Waitrose or M&S. If you’re like most students and need to spend less, you gotta shop at Aldi. Grocery shopping at Cannon Park is great because you have options. What I do is go to Aldi first, get as much as I can there, then go to Tesco to get anything I couldn’t find. There’s also Iceland which is great for frozen food but keep in mind your freezer space may be limited!
If you really want to save, make a meal plan for the week and only buy what you need!
(3) Learn as you go
You won’t get it right on your first week. Or your first month. I would argue I didn’t get it right my whole first year! That’s okay. Learn as you go and learn from your mistakes. If you get drunk and spend half your money on Jagerbombs, don’t beat yourself up just maybe don’t do it again.
Unless you absolutely have to track every pound you spend, don’t overthink it because you’ll probably look back and regret every time you stayed home instead of meeting up with friends for a drink.
(4) Part-time work
If you want to be able to spend extra, or save up, getting a part-time job is the best way. Look on-campus, in retail, in hospitality, on Unitemps and anywhere else you can find. For example, I work for a social media marketing company which means I work completely remotely and have control over my hours. Is it related to my degree? No. Is it helping me save up for a Masters? Yes! It’s okay if you can’t get work that’s related to your field of study or your intended career path. Don’t be afraid to stack shelves at Aldi or build sandwiches at Subway if you want to earn some cash, it’s a student rite of passage.
(5) Get a savings account
If you think you’re going to be able to save some money each month, it’s worth getting a savings account so you can keep that money separate. Even if you just transfer over £10 a month, it’ll be better than nothing! If you can send more over, great. Also, as far as possible, treat your savings account as savings, not as back-up funds. If you’re constantly transferring money back from your savings to your main account, you’re not really saving (but sometimes it’s a necessity and that’s okay!)
(6) Don’t panic at unexpected costs
Life is unpredictable. At the worst possible time, you’ll need to pay for your laptop repair or a new phone or a very expensive train ticket. It happens. Try to keep money aside for emergencies and don’t panic or beat yourself up when emergencies happen. If you suddenly find yourself in desperate need of financial help, it’s worth contacting the university.
(7) Take advantage of free things / deals / student discounts
Get the Pret free 1-month subscription. Get a Tesco Clubcard so you can buy things at Clubcard prices. Use vouchers. Take your student ID everywhere and ask if there’s a student discount. Download UniDays and StudentBeans. Buy toiletries from Aldi or Poundland. Do whatever you need to do to keep yourself going!
(8) Buy yourself something nice every now and then
Trying to budget or save money is great but sometimes you just gotta order the pizza delivery or buy the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Buy yourself flowers. Treat yourself to a lunch out with friends. Buy a whole cake. Whatever makes you smile, do it every now and then.