Student budgeting: Get a grip on your finances!

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By in Student Budgeting. Updated August 2013.

Student BudgetingManaging a budget isn’t as hard or as depressing as it sounds. The difficult part comes first, with making the initial commitment to live and stick to your new student budget. If you get that far, the future’s bright.

Living on a budget is one task every new student has to face sooner or later: whether you’re sensible and separate your loan into neat weekly chunks as soon as it graces your bank account, or much later in the year when you’ve blown three-quarters of it and your budget is a tiny £10 a week.

Either way, knowing how to budget is a vital part of student life.

How to put together a budget

Step One

student_budget_calculatorFirstly you need to determine a budget to spend. You can download our ready-made student budget sheet, a clever little Excel file that you can also print off.

To make your own budget, simply jot down your income in one column and your expenses in another column. Compare the two and you’re on your way to getting a solid grasp on your student spending.

By getting started with a budget, you will begin to understand and learn a lot about your money situation. And that is can prove to be very valuable as a student. You’re probably earning less than your spending, so keeping a track of your money is important. It seems obvious, but remember you will have to pay back all money you borrow! Keep in control.

Step Two

Now start looking at your expenses. You’ll see that on top of student fees, rent and all the other big costs, there are lots of ‘little’ extras that add up to quite a bit. Even if you’re aware you’re spending money when you actually do, the budget will allow you to see how this is affecting your wallet on a longer term basis.

Step Three

Start saving. Now you know where to target, you can have a go at cutting some spending back or try saving money in some areas. Check out our going out, shopping, food, student discounts and money sections on the site to learn more.

Step Four

Continue to concentrate on curbing your spending. As a student things can be a lot cheaper, so take advantage of all the student discounts and free student offers.

Cutting costs

cutting costsHere are some practical savings steps that should help your new budget:

  1. Sort out your wants against your needs. Focus on spending money only on needs.
  2. Don’t drink (too much), smoke, or do drugs. They are all unhealthy, addictive, and cost lots. You don’t need them so at least think and try cutting back.
  3. Get a good savings account. You can even earn on a portion of your student loan if you have some spare.
  4. Minimise waste. Eat the crusts.. you know you love them.
  5. Recycle study materials – pencils, pens, and paper.
  6. Don’t spend your money around plans you make. Make plans around the money you have available and can afford to spend.
  7. Don’t be influenced by friends’ spending habits.
  8. If you’re in catered, make the most of it. If not, find out about the free lunch seminars!
  9. Try getting an on-campus job.
  10. Use shopping coupons. Shop in the sales. Compare and shop online.
  11. Get down to the second-hand, vintage clothes outlets. Ryan vintage (Northern Quarter) is great.
  12. E-mail or write more rather than phoning home.

Bonus tip: use Direct Debits

A great tip to help with your budgeting is using the Direct Debit trick.

helpful tipsIf you start off optimistic, get your loan and put it straight into an account, not your student account but another separate one. This way you have the opportunity to have a lovely direct debit do the budgeting for you, feeding your loan gradually into your student account week by week. The amount of money you set up for the direct debit will be determined by the amount you came up with by using our student budget sheet calculator.

You might even be able to treat yourself to a bit of savings if you’ve a tad left over, a wonderful perk if you like a cheeky holiday or festival over the summer months.

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