Essential Student Budgeting Tips
By Kendall Breen on August 13th, 2019
Whether you’re currently a student or soon to become one in September, making your money last while studying at university is easier said than done. From monthly rent to weekly food bills and all the extra bits in between (events, nights out, and university supplies etc.), it certainly costs a pretty penny to be a student in 2019.
This was confirmed by the 2019 NatWest Student Living Index. Asking students from 35 top university cities about all aspects of student life – from nights out to part-time work and mental health and well-being initiatives on campus, the survey has revealed some interesting findings around how students manage their finances.
According to the survey, Portsmouth and Hull students find it most challenging to budget, with around 58% of students at each of these unis saying they find themselves running out of money before the end of term. Among the best budgeters are students in Scotland (Glasgow in particular) with only a quarter running out of money before the end of term.
In addition, 42% of students claim to set a budget but don’t always stick to it, while 6% of UK students do not budget at all. In contrast, only 22% claim to budget well and keep track of their outgoings.
To help ease the burden of budgeting, we’ve come up with some top tips and tricks that students can implement into their everyday routine:
The Student Living Index found that 44% of students rely on their parents to pay their monthly rent and nearly 10% of students rely on their overdraft to do the same – but using a budgeting tool such as Wally might help to lessen the amount you find yourself relying on others.
Surprisingly, 42% of students in the UK don’t use any budgeting tools at all; those that do budget are most likely to use an Excel spreadsheet. Only 17% of students use budgeting apps to manage their finances – even though ultimately, these kinds of apps are the best way to keep track of your expenses.
They highlight how much and how often you’re spending money on a particular activity (believe it or not, those Uber Eats orders add up!). By shedding light on where your money is going each month, you can make necessary amendments and plan your outgoings more carefully.
Budgeting seems all the more important when you consider the cost of a university social life. According to our research, students in Brighton and Oxford expect to spend the most on a pint (£3.00 and £2.90 respectively) while students in Liverpool spend the most on a night out at £22.30 – nearly double what their fellow students in Durham expect to pay. Only 10% of students choose to spend no money on socialising.
To help you manage your money and strike a balance between going out and putting enough aside for all your monthly outgoings, try finding a friend to budget with.
With roughly the same goals in mind, the two of you can keep each other in check and motivated. And even if you can’t find anybody to buddy up with, simply asking around your friendship group to see if anyone has any brilliant tips for keeping on top of their finances, is a useful step to take.
However, avoid comparing your finances to other people’s. Ultimately, everybody’s situation is different – and just because one friend is able to eat out five times a week doesn’t mean you should follow suit. Set your own limits and boundaries based on what you can afford.
Unsurprisingly, a huge chunk of change will go towards buying food. The Student Living Index found that supermarket bills top the monthly spend again this year for students in the UK – over twice as much as any other source of spending. The average monthly amount spent on eating out is £38.20 and supermarket shopping is £83.50 – but being savvy with budgeting can cut these costs.
Take a packed lunch into university as it’ll be a lot cheaper than buying on campus and try and scout out supermarket deals and vouchers. It’s also a good idea to try and buy value packs during your weekly food shop, as these will provide you with better value for money in the long run.
Last but not least, don’t be too hard on yourself when it comes to budgeting and managing your money. Avoid scrimping to such an extent that you become unhappy, stressed and unable to enjoy the perks of student life; instead, be realistic about what you can afford – and remember that you should be allowed to enjoy a takeaway, a night out or event tickets once in a while!