Student life can be surprisingly pricey. Books, meals, trips, transport, rent, clothes, technology, pubs. It can add up fast. That’s why it’s important to create a university budget to help keep spending under control.
Work out your income and outgoings
To set up a student budget from scratch you must first try to understand what money you have coming in and what you tend to spend it on.
If this is your first year off to University it can be hard to estimate your income and outgoings away from the comforts of home, but you should have enough for a start.
If you have days, weeks, or months of student life to draw from, use an open banking budgeting app like Money Dashboard. This will automatically track, label and categorise your historic spending to help plan your future budget.
- Income – is there any monthly financial support from family? Loans? Will you be working a part time job – if so how much do you expect to earn? Do you have any savings you will be pulling from?
- Outgoings – what is or will be your monthly rent? What about the bills? How much do you spend on meals – specifically take away/delivery?
Ideally, your income outweighs your outgoings. You do not want to rely on your overdraft.
But if that’s not the case, or you want to do better, look very closely at how much you are spending in each category. For example, if transport costs are high, perhaps it makes sense to get a bike or walk more. Are you overpaying for groceries at posh shops? You may want to cut down unnecessary costs like takeaways, clothes, cafes and pubs by setting new goals for yourself with a “no excuse” attitude for reaching them. Small changes like these can add up.
From here, it should be relatively straightforward to design yourself a student weekly budget. Each person will have a unique budget allocation depending on their priorities, although all budgets should aim for less than their income, and preferably plan for a bit of savings.
Use apps to make budgeting easier
Track it, track it, track it. And consistently check in with your budget to see your progress. Just knowing how much you spend, what you spend it on, and what you have left will help you make more rational financial choices.
Make it easy. Many suggest using a student budget spreadsheet or downloading a student budget template online. But, you can automate this by connecting your cards and accounts with a student budgeting app like Money Dashboard. Every time you swipe/tap your card/phone or visit the ATM, it will account for it. You can see your running balance, expenses, and any growing credit debt. You can also set spending and savings budgets by category, and it will show you how close you are to meeting them.