Students discuss finances

Budgeting and money management

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.

Make your money stretch

Budget considerations

The first step is to draw up and keep to a realistic budget. If you don’t have a budget you’ll probably become confused over how much money you have coming in and out. It’s important to work out your student budget before you start your studies to see whether you have enough money to live on. Once you arrive at UWE Bristol, you’ll need to update your budget with the actual amounts that you receive and spend.

Your student loan will come in three instalments. Planning your budget will help you ensure that your payments cover all the essentials. Your lifestyle choices will determine how much money you need to get by every month.

Get money smart with Blackbullion

Blackbullion logo

UWE Bristol has teamed up with financial education specialists to help you to get to grips with all things money-related. Blackbullion is a free online learning platform designed to support you with developing your money skills. It’s filled with videos, quizzes and competitions on topics like:

  • getting ready for university
  • budgeting
  • making your savings work for you
  • tax, debt and credit scores
  • investing and entrepreneurship
  • banking and budgeting support for international students.

You can register with Blackbullion using your UWE Bristol email address. Check out their budget tool, which helps you work out how to stretch your termly Student Finance instalments across the year and plan to prevent running out of money.

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.

Enhance your money skills

Learning how to manage your money is a crucial part of university life. UWE Bristol offers a wide range of support to help you develop essential money skills and get confident about your finances. If you want to learn more and master the art of juggling your money while at university you could:

1. Get money free money advice from Blackbullion

Read the make your money stretch section for details of how this online platform can help you.

2. Join our Financial Capability Module

If you like learning in a group, our award-winning Financial Capability Module will develop and improve your knowledge, confidence and financial skills. This six-hour module takes place twice a year. Book a place through InfoHub (login required) or email mafs@uwe.ac.uk.

3. Book a Financial Health Check appointment

An adviser can help you look into:

  • maximising your income
  • ways to reduce expenditure
  • creating your personal budget and plan your finance.

Contact an Information Point or email mafs@uwe.ac.uk to book an appointment.

Money Advice and Funding Service

If you have any questions about funding related matters, please contact our Money Advice and Funds Service.

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