Published: 26 July 2017

Student budgeting: how to create a student budget

Our quick and easy guide on creating a student budget. Discover how to create your own personal student budget in just six simple steps.

Student on calculator sat at laptop

Knowing how to make the most of your money is important for a great student experience at university. With this in mind, we've put together a six step guide to help you to take control of your new financial situation and get a first in managing your finances.

Evaluating your expenses might not be at the top of your to-do list, but invest some time in your financial future now and you’ll profit from it later. And it’s easier than it sounds! Grab your calculator and follow our six steps below to create your very own student budget.

How to create a student budget in six easy steps

1.      Work out your income for the term

Pull out your student finance letters and work out how much money you have available for the term. This should include your student loan, any bursaries or scholarships, and all other income you will be receiving during the term.

2.      Consider the necessities

Calculate how much you need to spend on essential costs that you can't avoid, such as accommodation fees and bills, and deduct this from your available money. Make sure to put this aside and don’t spend it before it’s needed.

3.      Split it into weekly chunks

Once all your essential costs have been accounted for, you should have a clearer idea of how much you have left to spend on other living costs. Divide your remaining amount by how many weeks there are in the term to get a weekly allowance.

4.      Estimate your weekly living costs

Work out how much you will need to spend on living costs each week, for example on food, and deduct this from your weekly allowance. Try not to forget the little extras such as laundry, toiletries, gym memberships, TV subscriptions and travel costs.

5.      Don’t forget to factor in the fun stuff

Living on a student budget doesn’t mean you can’t have fun – in fact the more you stick to your budget, the more fun you can afford! With the remaining amount, give yourself a weekly spending limit for social activities such as nights out and the occasional takeaway.

6.      Be conscious of where your money is going

Get in the habit of writing down your spending (even if it’s just on a note on your phone) to help you to stay on track. Use online banking to check your bank balance often and keep tabs on how much you are spending to make sure you don’t overspend. Review your budget regularly and don’t be afraid to change it if it’s not working for you.


Top tip: open a second bank account (remember you could be eligible for a student account) and put your student loan in there each term, then pay yourself a monthly salary to keep a constant trickle of money coming into your account. This puts a hard limit on your spending and means you have something to fall back on should you need to. And finally, don’t forget to keep some money aside to allow you some flexibility when you need it.

You now have all of the information you need to manage your money effectively at university! Living on a student budget will teach you organisation and planning skills that will be useful throughout your life.

Getting a part-time job

If you find yourself wanting a little bit more in your pocket then you might want to consider getting a part-time job alongside your studies.

Guildford is bursting with shops, cafés and restaurants, all within walking distance of the University, and there are lots of opportunities to find work and earn some extra spending money at Surrey. We also have our very own student recruitment agency on campus, Unitemps, who can support you in finding your perfect part-time job.

If you need help

Financial worries should never stop you from pursuing your passion and achieving well at university. If you find yourself facing financial hardship, our friendly student money advisors are always on hand to offer you financial advice and support to help you with your finances during your time at Surrey.

We have also recently partnered up with Blackbullion, a completely free online education platform that is jam-packed with modules on budgeting, managing money at university and even a 21-day money boot camp to help you get your finances in shape. Just create a free account with your University of Surrey email address to access all of their best money saving tips.

Read our student profiles to discover more about life at Surrey.

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