Budgeting and money management tips

Advice on how to work out your student budget including how to manage income, cash flow, expenditure and using budget calculators.

Creating a budget

Most students have to live on a limited income while at university, so it’s essential that you make a realistic spending plan at the beginning of each year. Preventing money worries enables you to concentrate on your course and achieve your degree.

Create a budget and stuck to it, reduce spend on luxuries, and get to grips with all things money related with the help of Blackbullion to maximise your income and reduce money related stress while you study.

Don’t wait until you are in financial difficulties - the Student Money Service is available to help.

Budgeting advice

Watch Razaan’s budgeting tips for further help.

Your student budget

A typical student budget

The budget below is based on a student renting accommodation for ten months (40 weeks) of the academic year (eg between September and June). Rent rates can vary as shown in the table below.

To give you an idea of weekly costs, here is an example of a basic budget:

Expenses

Weekly

Annual (40 weeks)

Accommodation or rent

£103–£143

£4,120–£5,720

Travel

£10

£400

Course costs (books etc)

£8

£320

Living costs (food, bills, phone)

£96

£3,840

Entertainment and socialising

£20

£800

Total

£237£227

£9,480–£11,080

The above budget is the minimum you could expect to spend. The amount you spend will depend to some extent on your lifestyle.

You could still save money by cycling or walking to university, clubbing together with your friends to buy an essential text book each or using the University libraries.

Budget extras

Please note that the above budget does not include:

  • socialising/entertainment
  • travelling to see your family and friends at home
  • the cost of securing your accommodation for the next academic year, as you may need to pay a deposit to letting agencies in the spring/summer terms to ensure that you have somewhere to live next year.

Budgeting tips

Food

  • Reduce your food bill by buying and cooking in bulk and sharing the cost with others.
  • Never shop when you’re hungry, you’re more likely to impulse buy and spend more.
  • Make a shopping list and stick to it.
  • Cut out shop bought coffee, snacks and sandwiches.
  • Buy unpackaged fruit and vegetables.
  • Make use of the free water fountains of campus instead of buying bottled water, or ask catering outlets for free tap water refills.
  • Learn to cook from scratch.
  • Freeze leftovers to reduce food waste.
  • Be sustainable and grab otherwise thrown away food from cafes and restaurants at super bargain prices, use the app Too Good To Go.

Lifestyle

  • Challenge yourself to spend free days.
  • Walk and cycle instead of using public transport.
  • Buy second hand books and make use of the library.
  • Try a meat-free day once or twice a week.
  • Try growing your own herbs and vegetables.
  • Sell any unwanted good, clothes and books.
  • Enhance your money skills – Blackbullion is free to all UWE Bristol students.
  • Open a savings account and transfer money on payday.
  • Complete a HC1 form to get reduced or free prescriptions, available from The Students' Union at UWE and Information Points.

Household

  • Make sure your washing machine is full every load, making it more efficient and wash at 30 degrees.
  • Use energy saving bulbs and turn off the lights when you leave the room.
  • Shop around for the best deals on utilities.
  • Put on an extra jumper instead of the heating.
  • Always buy own brand medicines, such as painkillers and hay fever tablets.
  • Find free or cheap furnishings on Gumtree, Freecycle, Preloved and Ebay.

Accommodation

  • Always take a photographic inventory when you move into a new property to avoid any disputes when you move out.
  • Get to grips with your contract- does your rent include bills or not, is the rent/deposit clearly outlined?
  • Beware of agency fees – make sure you know the full charges before you commit.
  • Insure your belongings or check if you are covered on parents insurance.

Shopping

  • Make use of your NUS card and other student discounts, as well as store loyalty cards.
  • Downshift to own label brands.
  • Check online and in magazines and newspapers for deals and vouchers.
  • Make the most of sales and offers and learn how to use cashback sites.

Travel tips

  • Invest in a 16-25 railcard or young person’s coach card.
  • Borrow a bike for just £60 for the academic year.
  • Monthly travel tickets can be cheaper than daily or weekly.

For comprehensive tips and advice, please see Save the Student and Money Saving Expert.

Checking your income and expenditure

Income

Check when you’re likely to receive your funding and how long it’s intended to cover. Student funding can be paid termly (eg maintenance loan) or monthly (eg NHS funding). You may receive it during the standard academic year of ten months (September to June) or over a calendar year (12 months). Other income is paid monthly (wages) or four-weekly (tax credits and child benefit).

Sponsorship such as family contributions can be paid annually or irregularly.

Cash flow

Student Finance-funded students receive funding termly. As the terms are of different lengths, it’s important to budget evenly over the whole academic year.

Expenditure

Check when you’re expected to pay things like tuition fees or rent. Certain items, such as rent, can cover an 11-month period but be collected during the standard academic year of ten months. If you receive your funding termly, it’s much better to pay your rent termly.

You may have higher course costs within the first term. It’s important to turn termly income or annual expenditure into a monthly amount. This will allow you to check where you are financially each month and make adjustments to your budget by reducing expenditure or increasing your income if you need to.

Student Nicole smiling at the camera

"Budgeting is your friend! It doesn’t have to be fancy or formal or even all that detailed, but it really is useful to have one."

Nicole, MRes Social Science

Nicole MRes Social Science

How to manage your money if your funding is delayed

  • If you are unable to pay your rent, contact your housing provider and explain your situation. Give them an idea of when you expect your funding to be paid. The Student Money Service can provide a letter for your landlord explaining the delay.
  • If you are in UWE Bristol accommodation, email the Income Office at credit.control@uwe.ac.uk to let them know that your funding is delayed. Set up a direct debit mandate where the first rent payment is made after your funding is paid.
  • Contact your bank to see whether you can access an interest-free student overdraft to keep you going until your funding arrives.
  • Work out your student budget even though your funding is delayed so that you can work out how much money you should be spending. It is important to only borrow what you can afford to repay.
  • If possible, see if you can borrow money from family or friends in the short-term.
  • Apply for a short-term loan from the Student Money Service. Visit our Apply for a short-term loan from the Student Money Service. Visit our funding and financial supportsection for application forms. Alternatively, you can collect a form from an Information Point or call us on +44 (0)117 32 85678 to request a form to be sent to you.

Please note: You will need to be registered on your course and will only be able to apply after the start of the academic year for your course. Loans are not sufficient to cover rent. They are for living costs only and are usually awarded at a rate of £50 per week towards food and travel.