Students discuss finances

Budgeting and money management tips

Most students have to live on a limited income while at university, so it’s essential that you make a realistic spending plan at the beginning of each year. Preventing money worries enables you to concentrate on your course and achieve your degree.

Create a budget and stuck to it, reduce spend on luxuries, and get to grips with all things money related with the help of BlackBullion to maximize your income and reduce money related stress while you study. Watch Razaan’s budgeting tips for further help.

Don’t wait until you are in financial difficulties - the Student Money Service is help, request a Financial Health Check or submit an enquiry using our InfoHub enquiry form.

Budgeting tips

Food

  • Reduce your food bill by buying and cooking in bulk and sharing the cost with others.
  • Never shop when you’re hungry, you’re more likely to impulse buy and spend more.
  • Make a shopping list and stick to it.
  • Cut out shop bought coffee, snacks and sandwiches.
  • Buy unpackaged fruit and vegetables.
  • Make use of the free water fountains of campus instead of buying bottled water, or ask catering outlets for free tap water refills.
  • Learn to cook from scratch.
  • Freeze leftovers to reduce food waste. 

Lifestyle

  • Challenge yourself to spend free days.
  • Walk and cycle instead of using public transport.
  • Buy second hand books and make use of the library.
  • Try a meat-free day once or twice a week.
  • Try growing your own herbs and vegetables.
  • Sell any unwanted good, clothes and books.
  • Enhance your money skills – BlackBullion is free to all UWE Bristol students.
  • Open a savings account and transfer money on payday.
  • Complete a HC1 form to get reduced / free prescriptions, available from the SU and Information Points.

Household

  • Make sure your washing machine is full every load, making it more efficient and wash at 30 degrees.
  • Use energy saving bulbs and turn off the lights when you leave the room.
  • Shop around for the best deals on utilities.
  • Put on an extra jumper instead of the heating.
  • Always buy own brand medicines, such as painkillers and hay fever tablets.
  • Find free or cheap furnishings on Gumtree, Freecycle, Preloved and Ebay.

Accommodation

  • Always take a photographic inventory when you move into a new property to avoid any disputes when you move out. 
  • Get to grips with your contract- does your rent include bills or not, is the rent/ deposit clearly outlined?
  • Beware of agency fees – make sure you know the full charges before you commit.
  • Insure your belongings or check if you are covered on parents insurance.

Shopping

  • Make use of your NUS card and other student discounts, as well as store loyalty cards.
  • Downshift to own label brands.
  • Check online and in magazines and newspapers for deals and vouchers.
  • Make the most of sales and offers and learn how to use cashback sites.

Travel tips

  • Invest in a 16-25 railcard or young person’s coach card.
  • Borrow a bike for just £60 for the academic year.
  • Monthly travel tickets can be cheaper than daily or weekly.

For comprehensive tips and advice, please see Save the Student and Money saving Expert 

A typical student budget

The budget below is based on a student renting accommodation for the ten months (40 weeks) of the academic year (eg between September and June).

To give you an idea of weekly costs, here is an example of a basic budget:

Expenses Weekly Annual (40 weeks)
Accommodation or rent £120–£150 £4,800–£6,000
Travel £12–£20 £480–£800
Course costs (books etc) £12–50 £500
Living costs (food, bills) £70–£80 £2,800–£3,200
Total   £214.50–£262.50 £8,580–£10,500

The above budget is the minimum you could expect to spend. The amount you spend will depend to some extent on your lifestyle.

You could still save money by cycling or walking to university, clubbing together with your friends to buy an essential text book each or using the University libraries.

Budget extras

Please note that the above budget does not include:

  • socialising/entertainment
  • travelling to see your family and friends at home
  • your mobile phone (you should budget around £5 a week for this, which works out at £200 over 40 weeks)
  • the cost of securing your accommodation for the next academic year, as you may need to pay a deposit to letting agencies in the spring/summer terms to ensure that you have somewhere to live next year.

Income and expenditure

Income

Check when you’re likely to receive your funding and how long it’s intended to cover. Student funding can be paid termly (eg maintenance loan) or monthly (eg NHS funding). You may receive it during the standard academic year of ten months (September to June) or over a calendar year (12 months). Other income is paid monthly (wages) or four-weekly (tax credits and child benefit).

Sponsorship such as family contributions can be paid annually or irregularly.

Cash flow

Student Finance-funded students receive funding termly. As the terms are of different lengths, it’s important to budget evenly over the whole academic year.

Expenditure

Check when you’re expected to pay things like tuition fees or rent. Certain items, such as rent, can cover an 11-month period but be collected during the standard academic year of ten months. If you receive your funding termly, it’s much better to pay your rent termly.

You may have higher programme costs within the first term. It’s important to turn termly income or annual expenditure into a monthly amount. This will allow you to check where you are financially each month and make adjustments to your budget by reducing expenditure or increasing your income if you need to.

Back to top