How To: Student Budgeting

Well done to everyone who has got a place at university this year or is moving on to further education of some sort!

I thought it was perfect timing to give you guys some tips on student budgeting and how to look after your finances. I know it’s boring and most people would rather go out and enjoy being a student but trust me it will come back to bite you!

Tip Number 1: Pick the Right Student Account

When I got to uni I had completely pushed back the idea of shopping around for different bank accounts and just stuck with my trusted Barclays account. I suggest checking what banks are available on your campus for convenience if you need their help. To give you a low down of a few:

  1. Santander: Many people I know moved to Santander when they went to university and think it’s the best! They offer you a 4 year free railcard which is fantastic (it’s around £30 a year normally) and from what I’m aware, your overdraft is automatically provided.
  2. Barclays: The best and worst bit about Barclays is that you have to make an appointment to obtain your student overdraft. This is crappy because who can be bothered reaaaally but then also fabby for the same reason – it totally put me off getting an overdraft and therefore forced me to budget.

Tip Number 2: Take Advantage of Student Discount

Unidays and NUS are both fantastic for student discounts. On Unidays, you can get Apple Music half price at £4.99, 15% discount from Dell, 50% off the Financial Times as well as the average 10% discounts from retailers. They have a great app too which I am forever using in Chiquitos to get 25% off food.
NUS is also fab, providing 10% off at the Co-op, 25% at the Odeon and 25% off National Express. Their card is only £12 a year which is great when you think of the savings!

Tip Number 3: Get a Job!

This is obviously one of the most common pieces of advice given to students but take it with a pinch of salt. I’ve seen people massively over work themselves with their degree and employment and personally I wouldn’t recommend working more than 12 hours a week on top of your study as it can very easily become too much.
Also, make sure that your employer is aware of your student status – might be a bit of a shock if you disappear at Christmas for a month without notice!
Retail is often very good flexible work for students, as well as bars/restaurants and any on campus shops or cafes that work for the student union. I often worked in my holidays away from uni and didn’t work while I was there so that I had a small income now and then to get me by.
I recommend using Indeed, Totaljobs and Student Beans which is where I have had the most success getting jobs.

Tip Number 4: Weekly Budget

It’s hella boring but hella necessary. It doesn’t have to be a detailed spreadsheet of your income but make a rough budget for yourself every week to stick to. This particularly goes for food. Eating out and getting takeaways seems fab the first few times but wait until the dreaded fresher’s extra pounds creep up on you!! If you take my advice, do a weekly online order as you can get a great idea of how much you have spent. Definitely buddy up with others to avoid charges too (normally it has to be over £40). ASDA is great for cheap, good food and is handy for comparing your online orders to get discount.


Tip Number 5: Buy and Sell Cheap

Course books can get crazy expensive very quickly so I suggest checking eBay and local Facebook buy and sell pages to get them for a good price – the same goes for selling them on after use. Also, in your second year, you may need to buy extra furniture and you can get some great deals from previous students who need quick cash.

Tip Number 6: Drunk Smart

I have learnt the hard way with this one! Avoid taking your debit card out with you for several reasons. 1) You may loose it 2) you spend waaaaaaay too much which isn’t fun checking the next day. I’d definitely ensure that you’re only going out on a student night as it’s when you will get the best offers on drink; a local’s night can be a lot more expensive.
Find a cash machine near where you live that doesn’t charge to withdraw and stick to it! My campus had a machine that was used by so many people that you could only take out £20 notes, only prompting you to spend more than you needed to.

Tip Number 7: Washing

This was something I hadn’t even thought about when I started uni! Washing was crazy expensive so I often abused my lovely mother by bringing it back with me whenever I could. I would definitely suggest doing your washing with someone else and splitting the cost as it can definitely eat away at your bank balance over time.
Also, my college didn’t allow you to use certain washing products in their machines so check before buying. I often used handwash in my sink for my underwear which soon caught on with others in my flat!

Tip Number 8: Organise your Dates

Print out your student finance dates so that you’re aware of when you’ll receive your loans and any bursaries you’re eligible for. Be aware though that it is often a few days late so don’t push your balance to the last couple of pennies in hope for a lump sum. I recommend not getting overexcited by a lot of money coming in and instead finding out what dates you have to pay your rent, how much it is, and moving it in to a separate bank account which you don’t touch (remember to move it back when you have to pay though!). This helped me a lot as it gave a more realistic impression of what money I had and how long it would last me.

I felt this post would be useful for many people starting (or already at) university as they’re all points I have learnt over the past year and have meant that I have been able to afford what I want to do and avoid relying on large overdrafts!

Ella x
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  1. August 28, 2016 / 12:32 pm

    Great post with really useful info…my son is hoping to go to uni next year, so I appreciate the helpful pointers, especially regarding bank accounts. Thank you!

    • August 28, 2016 / 12:50 pm

      They are all generally things that nobody told me and I figured out myself so I thought they would be of use! Thank you for your reply 🙂

  2. September 17, 2016 / 9:10 pm

    Love this! I’m about to go into my 3rd year and this is so relevant and true haha! Perfect advice X

    • September 17, 2016 / 9:15 pm

      I’m glad you liked it! Take care in your 3rd year!! Xx

  3. June 14, 2017 / 1:28 am

    Lol to the ‘drunk smart’ tip. I’ve heard many stories about how drunk spending got people in trouble hahaha!

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