How to Budget
If you have no idea how to budget, don’t worry, you are not alone, in fact most students find themselves in this position. Learning how to manage your money is a life skill and there is no better time to start than the present!
We will walk you through how to budget, and the best ways of doing so, including the use of budgeting apps. The last thing you need at university is to be left completely skint.
CALCULATE YOUR BUDGET
Calculating your budget can be done in four simple steps. It is as simple as listing all the money you have coming in, tracking what you are spending and seeing how much you have left. Once you have worked this out you know how much money you’ve got to play with and how much you can start saving.
1. Workout your Income
You need to work out how much money you have coming into your account. If you have opted for the maintenance loan this will come in three large installments, so it is so important to make sure you budget this out accordingly.
Your most common streams of income will be from:
Part time job
Money from parents
Extra money from bursaries/grants/scholarships
2. Estimate your Outgoings
Now you need to workout how much money will be going out of your account. If you are unsure of what these costs will look like then take a look at these average student living costs, based on each uni.
Essential student outgoings are likely to be:
Bills (water, electricity, gas, mobile phone, wifi, TV licence)
Transport (train, bus, taxi, car)
Non-essential student outgoings can include:
Nights out (drinks, entry, outfits, taxi, takeaways)
Hobbies (cinema, theatre, music festivals etc)
Subscriptions (Amazon Prime/Netflix)
Beauty expenses (makeup, nails, waxing, haircuts, tanning)
3. Calculate your Weekly Budget
Now that you have worked out all of your income and expenses, it's time to work out how much you have left to spend on a weekly basis.
Work out your total income for a term
Minus your essential expenses for the same term
Divide the number you are left with, with the number of weeks in the term
The final number you are left with will be how much you have got to spend each week. I find it better to budget by week rather than month so you don’t go crazy at the start of the month and then are left struggling to reach the end of the month.
4. Set Yourself Some Goals
You may have a great weekly budget, but you may also be sat there thinking how on earth you are supposed to live off of this amount per week. Your goal may be to make sure you are saving a little bit each month, so if this is the case make sure you factor this in.
Look at your outgoing expenses and see if there are any non-essential items you can cut back on. For example, maybe order less takeaways and cook yourself more, or reduce the amount of clothes you buy new. If you still think you want more clothes have a look on eBay and Depop to see if you can find anything cheaper. Or maybe you need to spend less on your nights out. Take a look at your gym membership and workout how many times you have actually gone - is this really worth the cost? Whatever it may be there will definitely be something you can cut back on.
If it gets to a stage where you can’t cut back on any of your outgoings, then it is time to get a job to make sure you have enough money coming in to afford you expensive habits! Don’t panic though, because we have a blog which will help you find a job at uni.
STUDENT BUDGETING TOOLS
There are so many different resources out there to help you with budgeting, so we have listed a few below which we personally find very helpful.
1. Student Budgeting Spreadsheet
SavetheStudent does an excellent spreadsheet that will do everything for you. All you have to do is input the money you have coming in each month, then log your expenses in the section below. The spreadsheet will do the calculations for you and track whether you are living within your budget each month. You can use this to budget as you go or to workout if your finances are going to fit your future budget.
2. Budgeting Apps
Apps such as Monzo and Sterling Bank group all of your purchases into categories and send you real time push notifications when you're heading over your budget in each area. Some apps also have savings features which help you to set aside small amounts of money each week.
I personally used Monzo at university, and transferred my weekly budget from my main bank account to my Monzo account at the start of each week. If I had any money left over at the end of the week I put it into my savings pot. This worked really well for me because I could see exactly how much I was spending and how quickly all the little bits added up!
3. Direct Debit Trick
This is a useful hack that could help you save a lot of money over the year. Here’s how you do it:
- Step One: when you receive any money into your student bank account, transfer it to a separate current or savings account
- Step Two: set up a recurring payment each week to transfer across your weekly budget into your normal spending account (e.g. the Monzo account). This will gradually feed money into your account and stop you from going overboard when you first get paid
- Step Three: if you ever do need more money you can transfer it across manually, but you will be thinking about if you really need it. This should help you to break bad spending habits and ensure your money lasts until the end of the week.
We hope you found this useful - happy budgeting!