Budgeting at uni is key to making sure you have enough money to pay the bills and enjoy uni life as much as you can.

Setting a good monthly budget all depends on your lifestyle, where you’re living and how much you’re spending on things like take-aways and nights out. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to reduce your monthly costs, maximise your student loan, and manage your money better as a student. To help, we’re going to look at the key things to consider when working out your monthly budget at university:

Accommodation

If you choose to fly the nest and live away from home when you go to uni, then your biggest expense each month is likely to be your rent & bills. Most on-campus student accommodation offers an all-inclusive price that includes rent, utility bills, and WI-FI.

Choosing this option can make it much easier to manage your monthly budget, as you know exactly how much your housing and bills are going to cost each month. On the other hand, choosing to live off-campus with your friends can be cheaper. Just keep in mind that you will have more responsibility when it comes to paying your bills, etc. and this may make managing your monthly budget more difficult. To give you a rough idea, ‘Save The Student” found that the average UK student spends roughly £431 on rent each month.

Utility bills

As mentioned, you’ll be responsible for managing your own utility bills if you choose to live off-campus. The survey above found that the average student spends around £32 a month on household bills, so you should aim to budget at least this amount towards utilities.

You can lower the cost of your bills by being sparing with your water and energy use, even if that means turning off the heating throughout the day and sacrificing long baths. You can use price comparison sites to find the best deals, and you can use bill splitting apps to bundle all of your household expenses together, ensuring that bills are split evenly and fairly between you and your housemates. This will help to prevent any disagreements and you won’t have to chase that one person for money each month (there’s always one). It should also help you to monitor your spending and make it easier to manage your finances.

Food and drink

Buying groceries can get expensive if you don’t plan ahead for your big shop. Purchasing large amounts of food you don’t need can lead to food waste, which is bad for the environment and even worse for your pocket! Lower your food costs by doing small, regular food shops and planning your meals in advance. There are so many simple recipes out there which are cheap and healthy. Shopping at local markets can be another way to cut your fresh food costs. If you have your own shelf in the freezer, take advantage of it! Frozen food tends to be cheaper than fresh and lasts longer. The average student spends around £92 per month on groceries, see if you can, beat this or stick to it if possible.

Learning materials

As a university student, you ‘ll need to buy course materials like books, notepads, and stationery. Course stuff tend to cost students around £15 per month, although this is likely to be significantly more if you do creative courses such as art, fashion, or photography. Make sure you budget for learning materials and have enough money to cover these essential costs. It might be worth shopping around and seeing if any of your books are available second hand – lots of graduates tend to sell their old course materials online, so as long as you don’t mind a few scribbles on some of the pages, you’ll save yourself some money. You should also try to have an emergency fund to cover any unexpected costs i.e. if you suddenly need to repair or replace your laptop.

Social activities

Socialising is a big part of university life, you don’t need us to tell you that it’s essential you include this in your uni budget! Students are reported to be spending an average of £49 per month on going out, but this could be a lot more if you have expensive taste or like to eat out regularly. Luckily, student nights offer good discounts which mean you can enjoy a night out with your friends on a low budget. Make sure that you take advantage of student deals and set a budget when you go out to avoid overspending!

Summary

To create a realistic budget at university, make sure you think about all expenses such as accommodation, utility bills, groceries, course materials, and social activities. You should keep in mind that your budget will largely depend on your location and lifestyle choices. For example, a student who lives in London and goes out a few  times a week is going to need a significantly higher budget than a student who attends a university in northern England and rarely goes out. Use the advice above to help you create your monthly budget and stretch your student loan a little further.