A Guide To Starting University: Budgeting & Saving Money

Money is probably one of the biggest worries for students, everyone needs more and you've never got enough of it. I spoke about Money in a previous instalment of this series, so I'd recommend checking that out first. However in this post I'm going to be talking about how to budget and also save money whilst at University. 

I may not be the best person to give advice on budgeting as I've spent all Summer working my way out of my overdraft, but I've learnt from my mistakes and Im here to help you not go the same way as me! First up is...

This is the tricky part. I've come to the conclusion that getting this right takes a bit of practice, and you need to spend to be able to budget. The first step to budgeting is to work out how much money you have, so that involves working out your income, that will be your student loan, any funding, part time jobs or money from parents. You can also factor in any savings you already have if you want to. Once you've got your income the first step is to take off any outgoings that you know about such as your rent, or your phone contract. That will leave you with the amount of money you have left to play with for the rest of the year. 

The best thing to do next is to divide that amount by the amount of weeks you'll be at uni, also take into account holidays and whether you will need money during the times you're at home. Once you've got your weekly allowance you can then budget. This is the point where I think spending needs to happen, until you know how much things cost it's difficult to work out how much to budget on different areas. I'd recommend not spending over your weekly amount unless you really have to, and then working out how much you spend on different things each week

If you're spending more than you've got each week then you'll need to start cutting down your spend on certain things. You'll have to decide yourself what that is but the main areas of spend are;

Food - This is obviously a necessity and probably what you'll spend most of your money on. To try and cut down on spending I'd recommend shopping in Aldi or Lidl is possible, or always going for own brand products. It's also a good idea to plan ahead for meals so you don't end up constantly buying ready meals or ordering pizza, which can become very expensive. For nights out I always find it's a good idea to have some leftovers ready for when you get in so you're not tempted by the kebab shops on the way home! 

Socialising - This includes drinking and nights out. My main answer to this is PRE DRINK, it's the best way for saving money. Also don't take your bank card on nights out and only take a small amount of cash. Another part of socialising is spending time with friends, pick a movie night instead of the cinema, or cook for each other rather than going out for dinner. 

Things You Don't Need - Clothes, Make Up, DVDs, Books, it's all stuff you don't really need but you want it. Well it's time to be strict on yourself, no more shopping sprees. However don't be too strict maybe give yourself a monthly amount to spend on clothes, or save all the money you don't spend each week and hit up boots. Also remember Charity Shops can have hidden gems, and if you're a similar size to a friend do a little swap, even if its just borrowing an outfit for a night. 

Uni - Books are expensive, if you can get away with not buying course books then don't. The library should have a few, and if you're nice your mate just might lend it to you. If you do need the books always try and find them second hand from other students!

Student Perks 
Everyone knows that students are poor, but they also know students want things, so theres lots of different perks out there for students to take advantage of.

NUS Card - If you're a student then you need this card, it gives discount in hundreds of places, including a lot of high street shops. New Look, Topshop, McDonalds and even Odeon Cinema accept NUS cards, usually giving you 10% discount, it's not a huge amount but it all adds up. At £12 for 12 months it's not a bad deal.

UNiDAYS - At alternative to an NUS card, this student discount can be used be joining online and either ordering through online shops or through downloading the app and showing it at the till. It has some great offers and discounts and is free so definitely worth checking out! 

Amazon Student - If you're like me, Amazon is the first place you'll go to when you need to order something, it has everything and at great prices. Amazon is now offering students a special account that offers 6 months free one day delivery and the chance to win prizes worth up to £3000. It's free to sign up to, but just remember after the first 6 months your account is then converted to a discounted Amazon Prime membership at £39 a year, this includes Amazon's Movie & TV streaming service. A great one to sign up for, and really useful when you desperately need a book for an essay, with free one day delivery its with you the next day! 

16-25 Railcard -  Not specifically for students but still a great discount card. It offers a third off rail travel within the UK and can really save you some money! A 1 year railcard costs £30 but this is easily paid off in the savings you make. If you plan to use the train to travel home, visit friends or go exploring it's a must have and will save you lots! You can also get discounts and offers on things to do in the UK. 

This post was in collaboration with Amazon UK
[photo source]


  1. Wonderful post! Totally agree with everything you've said!
    From a recent graduate who is very depressed she has finished uni ... xx


    1. Thanks :) Im so not looking forward to being a graduate! :)

  2. Budgeting and saving money is always difficult! The student perks are the best though, although i didn't know amazon had a student thingy. Thank you for sharing emma, fab tips :) x
    | Life as a Petite || Fashion, Crafts & Lifestyle Blog |

    1. Im the worst at budgeting and I spend so much when I really shouldn't! :) xx

  3. great post - i was so good at saving money when i was student! rubbish now haha

    from helen at thelovecatsinc.com /// new blog sale

    1. Thanks. Im so bad at saving money, I just love buying things!
      Emma x

  4. I wish I'd read this before starting! very helpful advice

  5. I decided not to go to university based on the financial side of it, this article helps to put it all into perspective though for future students, really interesting read!