Not all students have a part time job and it can make surviving at university much harder. Even if you do have a part time job or find ways to make money on the side, finances are still tight. A number one tip for student survival is to create a student budget.
Student budgets allow you to track the money that you have coming in and the amount you need to spend throughout the month on rent, bills and other necessary payments. After that, you will be able to decide where the rest of your money goes or if you even have enough and need to start cutting your spending.
Setting up a student budget doesn’t need to be difficult and here are simple and effective tips to get started:
1. Know Your Monthly Income
Some student loans are paid per month, which makes this stage easier while others are paid in three instalments during the terms (you’ll need to take the total amount and divide that by 12 to have your real monthly income). During this calculation, include any other income that you get each month including:
- Part time salary
- Money you make online
- Money from parents/grandparents
Do not include any money that is not guaranteed for each month in your student budget, including any birthday treats or inheritance – you can’t rely on that money and you don’t want to include it in your budget anyway (spend that money on yourself!)
Take a look at previous bank statements to get an idea of the amount of income you have each month. Look over at least six (you can times this by 2 to get an idea of the yearly total).
2. Create a Student Budget for Your Necessities
Think about all the necessities that you have. This will include your rent, any utility bills and food costs. If you run a car then you’ll need to break down your car costs as well – but only the necessary ones for now!
This gives you the amount that need to spend each month – you have no leeway over. There are ways to reduce your costs to help your student budget but these costs will still need to be made. Once you have calculated all of these, it is time to focus on the luxuries, one-off spending and student supplies.
Look over your previous bank statements to get an idea of all the outgoings you have. This avoids missing something, such as council tax which is only payable for 10 months of the year!
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3. Consider Your Student Supplies for Your Budget
To survive at university, you will need to have supplies. This includes your own printer and ink, pens and pencils and notepads for taking notes. These are not likely to be needed every month so it is worth considering the amount you will need over the course of a university year.
If you have an NUS Extra card – UK students – you will benefit from a student discount from various stores, which will help you with your student budget.
Be realistic about your student necessities. A large amount is often spent at the start of the term on textbooks, which are always expensive! However, you will also need to think about notepads, printing paper and ink or printing credits and pens and other stationary. Unfortately this is just an estimate and is different for each course.
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4. The Luxuries and One-Off Costs
Every now and then you will need new clothes. You will also need washing products, shampoos and conditioners and want to spend money on luxuries. These can be used with the remainder of your budget – although you may also want to put some aside for savings in case of an emergency.
Consider the amount that you will need for luxuries over the year and then divide by 12 for your student budget. This gives you an idea of the amount you need to put away for when you do need to spend the money. Luxuries include going out with friends, joining social clubs and travelling home at weekends and holidays. Your one-offs will be the things like your new clothes and gifts at Christmas or for birthdays.
Creating a student budget doesn’t need to be difficult or take hours. You just need to break down your income and outgoings into months. This helps to divide your money to make sure you spend it on the essentials and then use the rest on your student supplies and luxury items. Remember that this is for a few years – once you graduate, you will be able to find a job that offers more money and you can change your budget to spend more on yourself!