University Tips Blog
Image of a moneybank and books to illustrate student budgeting
A headshot image of the author, Jonathan Barker

by Jonathan Barker

Student Recruitment Officer at the University of Salford, Manchester

posted on 3 Jun '24

Budgeting for students – a university guide

We know that the financial aspects of university can be daunting for students, especially as this may be the first time they’ve had to manage their money independently. They may also have no experience of how much everyday essentials can add up to. Add in a cost-of-living crisis, loan amounts that haven’t kept up with inflation and moving to a brand-new place away from their usual support network, it’s not surprising that many students are feeling stressed or anxious about their finances. With that in mind, we asked current Salford students to share their best advice for budgeting.

Student budgeting tips #1 - Planning ahead

The most important piece of advice our students gave was the necessity to establish their budget. Everyone’s circumstances are different, so it is important students do this individually. It’s very common to be over budget the first time, so they should look out for ways they can make reductions or savings. There’s a variety of online budgeting templates available, so encourage your students to check those out if they’re struggling to make their own.

Student budgeting tips #2 - Is it essential?

If students are struggling to find ways to save money, they should make a list of their essentials. Do they absolutely need that Netflix subscription or expensive phone contract? Are there cheaper alternatives? Is Spotify premium essential, or can they save money by listening to ads instead?

Student budgeting tips #3 - Buying second hand

Most courses will have a list of required books, but this doesn’t mean your students have to spend large amounts of money on brand new copies. Looking in charity shops, second hand bookshops, Facebook Marketplace or buying them from older students on their course are good alternatives.

Student budgeting tips #4 - Learning to cook

Spending the summer before university learning how to cook is not just a healthy option, but will save money in the long run as ready meals, takeaways and frozen pizza tend to cost more than cooking at home. Of course, they don’t need to become Gordon Ramsay, but knowing four or five key dishes will make life much easier – not to mention impress their new flatmates!

Student budgeting tips #5 - Student discounts

Wherever they go, they should remember to ask if the shop, restaurant or bar offers a student discount! There are also apps such as Student Beans and UniDays that give online discounts, and a 16-25 Railcard should be an essential item if they’re travelling home regularly.

Student budgeting tips #6 - Student banking

There’s a myriad of different student bank accounts out there, each offering different incentives. While having a student bank account is an absolute must, it is worth students spending a bit of time doing some research to find the one that’s best for them. Martin Lewis has a helpful guide on his website, which is a perfect place to start.

Recognising the importance of budgeting is essential for an easier student journey and guiding first-time students to achieving fiscal responsibility is paramount. More often than not, it is a lack of knowledge that causes stress and anxiety around money. By providing your students with these tools, you can alleviate some of their worries and give them the best possible start at university.

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