Managing Your Money

Is it the first time you have ever had to look after your own money, or have your financial circumstances changed and you’re having to reconsider your budget? Making sure that you have enough for essentials, as well as enough left over to enjoy your hobbies, socialise, and make the most of your university experience can be difficult.

However, we are here to help you manage your money and to support you when your budget might not go to plan.

What is a budget?

An estimate of how much income and expenditure (outgoings) you have over a set period of time.

  • This may be per month, or, more commonly whilst you are at university, per semester (13 weeks) or block (6 weeks)
  • The ultimate aim is to have more income than outgoings, allowing you to build savings where you can.

What is income?

  • Student Finance loans (Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans)
  • Grants / bursaries / scholarships
  • Part-time work
  • Money from parents / guardians / carers
  • Any savings you aren't saving for after your course

What is Expenditure/ Outgoings?

Money Spent:

  • Rent for housing / student accommodation
  • House bills (gas, water, electricity, internet, TV license, council tax if applicable etc.)
  • Travel costs (think about when you may be travelling home or to and from campus).
  • Insurance for your belongings in your house / student accommodation (sometimes this is included in student accommodation – check your contract)
  • Essentials such as food, toiletries
  • Phone bill
  • Course materials
  • Socialising
  • Clothes shopping
  • Any credit (buy now, pay later by Klarna)

How do I create a budget?

Use our budgeting spreadsheet to make your own budget! It will help you keep track of your income, expenditure/ outgoings and allow you to make the most of your university experience.

If you would like support in completing an individual budgeting spreadsheet, contact us by completing an enquiry form and one of our caseworkers can do this with you.

Track your spending – You could use a spreadsheet to track your spending such as the one available here. You can also use apps such as Moneyhub which allow you to keep all of your accounts in one place and to track your spending (including categorising it into what you spend your money on each month) so that you can gain insights into how you could be saving more money.

Prioritise essential expenditure - You should prioritise your expenditure/ outgoings according to what is most important. Your Advice Service would recommend that you prioritise payment of:

  • Food and drink
  • Rent and utilities
  • Any debts that you already have
  • Tuition fees and any other essential University costs (including travel costs to and from university).

Develop financial literacy – Use your budget as a first step towards developing financial literacy (knowing how to make smart decisions with your money). Take advantage of any resources that your bank, or other banks, may share for free to help you gain financial literacy, such as the resources on Financial Education from HSBC.

Top-Tips to maximise your budget

With the rising cost of living, it can be hard to make your budget meet all your essential and non-essential spending.

  • Plan a weekly food menu so you're only buying the food you need (can you do this with your flat/house to share costs?)
  • Use budget/spending apps to make sure you are tracking your spending. 
  • Bring your lunch to university with you.
  • Check the library before buying books. You might also be able to request that they buy a book that you need for your studies.
  • Always check for a student discount!
  • Take advantage of free and cheap events at Your SU.
  • Consider sharing accommodation with people that you meet at university instead of staying in university accommodation – this is often cheaper and allows you to split the cost of rent and utilities across the household (attend our Housing Fairs to find your accommodation for next year and receive offers and discounts on deposit or even your first month’s rent).
  • Travel discounts:
    • Consider car sharing/ splitting the costs of commuting to university.
    • Apply for a 16-25 or a 26-30 Railcard which gives you 1/3 off travel. Travel off-peak when possible as this is cheaper.
    • If you are travelling in London, you can get an 18+ Student Discounted Oyster Card and Pay as you Go. Combine this with a railcard to get extra discounted travel.  Find our article on how to get your student Oyster Card from TfL.
    • Check for local bus discounts, for example if you are travelling within the West Midlands, you can get discounted bus travel with the Student Bus Pass.

How can Your Advice Service help you?

  • Budgeting advice
  • Cost of living campaigns
  • Housing Fairs
  • Help with assessing eligibility for other financial support
  • Support with University Support Fund applications
  • Help with issues with student finance
  • Emergency food support

If you need our support, please complete an Enquiry Form and attach any relevant evidence, copies of forms, and outline what support that you need.

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