Budgeting for University

Going to university is often when we first become financially independent and have to start dealing with rent, bills, food shopping etc. Keeping on top of your finances can seem daunting when you’re starting out, but don’t worry, that’s where budgeting comes in…

Follow the guidance below and learn how to handle your money like an expert!

The basics

Budgeting is all about balancing the money you have coming in (income) and the money you are spending (expenditure) to ensure you don’t spend more than you have. To budget effectively you will need to identify what your income and expenditure will be and plan your spending accordingly.


This is any money you have coming to you – including, student finance (tuition fee and maintenance loans), scholarships, benefits, grants, wages and birthday money!


This is the money you will spend. This can be more challenging to calculate. Firstly, think about your essential purchases, the things you need. These include rent, bills (including TV licence), basic food and contracts (phones, gym etc). Then consider things you might want, e.g., new clothes or a night out.

Student finance

Student finance is paid in instalments termly (around every 3.5 months). However, most of your bills are likely to be monthly so it is important to divide your termly student finance income by 3.5 to get your monthly income.

Being realistic

When budgeting, the most important thing is to be realistic. There is no point budgeting £10 per month for food if you usually spend £80!

You will need to make decisions regarding your spending and it is unlikely you will be able to afford everything you want!

Start budgeting!

Now that you have a better idea of what money you will have coming in and going out, start noting down your items of income and expenditure and begin planning your spending accordingly.

Use our helpful student budget worksheet to get started!

What if my expenditure is more than my income?

You have three options; increase your income, reduce your expenditure or a combination of both.

Check out our Funding your studies at university and Additional Funding Options for Your Studies pages to find out more about increasing your funding options.

To reduce your expenditure, you will need to check each item on your budget, is it essential? Can you shop around to find it cheaper? Essential items (needs) shouldn’t be cut for unessential items (wants), e.g., you shouldn’t substitute your food shop for a night out!

How to stick to a budget

You will need to monitor your spending.  This includes reading your bank statements and checking payments. Read our Banking: what you need to know about accessibility page to find out more about accessing your banking information in an accessible way.

Below are some top tips other students have shared on how they manage their money on a termly basis.

  1. Using budgeting apps like Squirrel, Yolt or Daily Budget can help you monitor your payments and set spending limits, so you can easily keep track of spending.
  2. Separate money into two accounts to help you manage your money for needs and wants. It will help to ensure you don’t spend your rent money for the end of the term by accident.
  3. Set up Standing Orders and Direct Debits to ensure you don’t miss payments for bills, rent and other essentials.
  4. If you find you are spending more per month than you have budgeted for and cannot stick to your budget, it may mean you have set an unrealistic budget, adjust if necessary and check it against your income.

Budgeting examples

We have put together two example budgets to help you get started, download them using the links below:

Studying in London    Studying outside of London

Top tips

Finally, check out this helpful video from Becky at MyBnk where she discusses some top tips for managing your money at university.

Start organising your spending now!

Download our helpful student budget worksheet

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