Student budget guide: How to keep on top of your cash and finances

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Here's our ultimate guide to student budgeting: How to budget your year at University and stop yourself from going broke.

Well, finger's crossed.

1. Calculate just how much money you'll start with

First things first is to calculate just how much cash you're going to get in for the year ahead.

Start by adding up your student loan, grants and maintenance amounts. Make sure you're claiming all you can!

  • Add in any bursaries or scholarship amounts you have been awarded.
  • Take into account any savings you may have.
  • Money from family or friends.
  • And finally any cash you get from a job.

Top tip: You don't have to worry about tuition loans or costs as these will be paid direct to your University.

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2. Deduct your fixed monthly bills

The next step is to calculate your fixed outgoings over the year, these are bills that you'll have to always pay :(

There may be some student bills you forget to budget for - here are the key things to consider:

  • Rent
  • TV licence
  • Internet and Phone (Landline)
  • Mobile Phone contract
  • Contents insurance
  • Transport costs (e.g. bus pass, car insurance, car tax, etc.)

Don't forget other monthly payments you may have such as gym, website or magazine subscriptions.

Now the trouble with this part is that a lot of these bills you won't necessarily know the amounts for just yet. Fortunately when it comes to estimating the costs for these things there is the Natwest Student Living Index. It provides region based estimates for bills making it all too easy.

Make sure you calculate how much these bills will cost over the year, not just the month! Also, remember that some of these bills may be shared with housemates so you won't be footing the entire cost.

3. Deduct any one-off payments

Now you need to deduct any one-off yearly expenses such as books for your course, stationary and equipment. This may also include a private housing rent deposit.

4. Calculate what's left weekly

Now you've got just how much spare cash you'll have to survive over the course of the University year it's time to work out your weekly amount. This will vary depending on just how long your term time is and whether or not you plan to stay at university or go back home during the holidays.

We'd suggest to play it safe and over-esimtate the amount of time you'll spend at University.

Divide the amount left by the number of weeks you plan it to cover and you've got how much you've got to 'live on' each week.

5. Estimate your weekly living expenses

HOLD ON! That the amount left isn't free money to splash on night's out just yet. You still need to take into account every day living expenses such as food and drink, toiletries, and so on.

The exact amount you spend on these will not stay constant and is hard to estimate, again we say play it safe, and budget for a good 70-80% if not more to be gone by the end of the week, leaving the rest to enjoy.

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Adjust your budget once you start University

Possibly the BEST budgeting tip that is rarely followed: Your budget shouldn't stay constant! Once you start University and you know exactly how much things are costing you be sure to update your budget accordingly.

Anything left? SAVE!

If you're lucky enough to have money left over from your budget by the end of the week then don't feel like you have to spend it.

Open up a Cash ISA if you don't have one already and stash any spare change away. Yeah, it won't be much, but it's something to call upon on a rainy day if you need to.

About the author: Thomas Brella

Thomas Brella is the founder of Student Hacks, starting the website in 2013 while studying at the University of Brighton to share tips and tricks on life as a cash-strapped student. He's now spent over 10 years scoping out the best ways to live on a budget

More on: Living Money
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