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Residential Life

How to... make a budget

By bzgeorge 10 Sep 2019

Budgeting isn't the most exciting task but it has to be done.

It will save you a lot of stress later down the line, so you'll thank us later! 

The trick is to stay on top of your finances and to be organised when it comes to money. Whatever you do though, do not spend freely. Check your bank balance regularly, download your mobile banking apps and keep track of your spending.

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1. Add up your income

The first step is finding out how much money you have. Look at how much you get from your student loan, part-time job, allowance from your parents, etc. Add all of this up and look at how much you have to spend per semester. 

2. What do you NEED to pay?

The most important part of budgeting is figuring out what you have to pay out of your accounts. These are non-negotiable and always come first when spending money. This includes:

  • rent
  • food
  • phone contract
  • housing bills
  • university tuition fees (this may be covered by another loan, but worth checking)
  • debit/credit payments
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3. Weekly budget

Once you have removed the essential spends from your total amount, you will be left with the money you can spend on whatever you want/need. Divide this number by the number of weeks in the semester - this is your weekly budget. For a student, weekly budgets typically range between £50-80 (including your weekly food shop.)

Some things you may spend this budget on:

  • social activities e.g. cinema, drinks, coffee, food out
  • household supplies/toiletries
  • clothes/shoes
  • uni books (you can loan these from the uni library for free)

4. Find out what you can get for free or discounted

Get an NUS card for exclusive student discounts on food, clothes, drinks, etc. This will save you a lot of money in the long run! You can get discounted travel on the London underground, trains and buses. Check out the TFL page to find out just how much you can save.

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5. Do your research before spending

Before signing phone contracts and housing bills, always research cheaper deals online. You might be surprised by the price difference between companies. Make sure you are spending smartly and doing comparisons will allow you to do exactly this. 

6. Stay out of your overdraft

While an overdraft can tie you over during hard times, it is a dangerous game. Instead of thinking of it as money you have to spend, think of it as your safety net. Stay out of your overdraft if you can. Once you dip in and out of the overdraft, it becomes very difficult to get out of it. Remember, you will have to pay it back eventually!

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Our biggest takeaway tip? Check your balance frequently!

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