You gain lots of new skills at university and one of them should be how to budget your money. As a student, you have a lot more financial independence than when you lived at home. However, becoming a student involves a lot of expenses too. Don't worry, you can find ways to save money and still have an amazing experience at university.

student writing

In this blog, we’ve discussed the importance of budgeting for students and included some helpful tips to get you started.

Why is it so important to budget?

In the National Student Money Survey, 77% of students revealed that they wish they had better financial education before coming to university. We know that with daily chores, deadlines, society meetings and everything else university has to offer, it can be easy to put budgeting last. 

However, having and staying to a budget is an important part of growing up and being more independent. These smart spending habits will be useful when you have your own house and bills to pay.

Most university students have limited funds, which makes budgeting essential. Whether the money comes from parents, a part-time job or savings, you need enough to cover your necessities. To make the most of your university experience you will also need money for enjoying activities with friends. 

It can be difficult to know what needs to be paid for when you’ve lived at home. Here are some regular expenses that most students will have.

Essential student expenses

  • rent
  • groceries
  • bills not included in your accommodation
  • mobile phone
  • transport 
  • course materials (textbooks, specialist equipment)

Non-essential student expenses

  • eating out with friends
  • hobbies 
  • clothes
  • gym membership
  • haircuts and other beauty expenses
  • subscription services 
  • holidays
  • gifts

These are just examples of things you might have to pay for. It all depends on the type of accommodation you choose and where you study. 

If you want some quick ways to save on money, textbooks can be bought second-hand and you can join free societies for inexpensive activities to partake in. Budgeting can be simple if you know what to do. 

Don’t be afraid to talk to somebody if you need help budgeting

Most universities, like Newcastle University, have dedicated advisers to help with everything finance-related. Our Student Finance Advisers offer helpful advice to current and prospective students. Together, we can work out a budget and give you any information you might need about your finances. 

Your parents are also a great source of guidance - they have lots of experience when it comes to budgeting and can offer advice. Take some time to chat with them and understand what weekly outgoings you are likely to manage.

Get online banking on your phonestudents hanging out

It can be difficult to know what you’re spending if you can’t see your bank balance and it’s not always easy to go to the ATM to check. Online banking is both important and convenient for budgeting - you can see all your expenses on your phone whenever you want. 

If you’re studying abroad in the UK, it’s essential to open a local bank account as soon as possible. This way, you won’t have to worry about any extra fees for currency conversions and there are also student-friendly banks that offer incentives for students. Santander, for example, offers a free four-year railcard (you can get up to one-third off rail fares when you have one of these!) when you bank with them.

Be smart with your shopping

Food takes up a lot of your money at university, whether that’s dining out or shopping. You can save a lot of money by shopping smarter. Here are our best tips when it comes to groceries:

  • make a shopping list and stick to it so you don’t overspend
  • shop at supermarkets in the evening for discounts and reduced food
  • cook with the other students in your accommodation to save money on ingredients
  • batch cook and freeze any leftovers for convenient meals in the week

Set realistic saving goals

It’s important to have a savings goal to work towards - for example, a trip down to London or new clothes. Don’t set unrealistic goals that you know you’ll never to be able to save for because that won’t motivate you.

Once you have your goals, put them somewhere you can see. Write them down and keep them on your desk because being reminded of them every day helps you stay focused on what you want to achieve. 

Using a spreadsheet, calculate all of your expenses. If your monthly outgoings are more than your monthly income, then you need to take another look at what you’re buying and make some adjustments.

Need guidance on managing your money while studying at university? Newcastle University offers plenty of advice on scholarships, loans, funding and budgeting.