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How to Create a Student Budget in 5 Easy Steps

Updated: Mar 6

Why do you need to create a student budget?

The importance of budgeting for students cannot be overstated. It’s a skill that will help you manage your money wisely and achieve your financial goals. It’s not as hard as it sounds, though. All you need is some planning and discipline.

By following FromHighSchooltoUni's simple steps, you'll be able to create a student budget that will help you achieve your financial goals and enjoy your time at university without worrying about money. Ready to get started? Let's dive in!

What Is Your Current Financial Situation?

Step 1:

Note Down Your Income

The first step when you want to create a student budget is to estimate your current financial situation and expenses. Your income is the money you receive from various sources, such as:

  • Scholarships or grants

  • Student loans

  • Part-time or full-time jobs

  • Savings or investments

  • Family or friends

Calculate the total income you will have at your disposal over the academic year.

Step 2:

Figure out your projected expenses

First, identify your essential monthly expenses. Your expenses are the money you will spend on the following:

  • Rent

  • Utilities (electricity, water, gas, internet, etc.)

  • Food and groceries

  • Transportation (car, bus, train, bike, etc.)

  • Education (tuition fees, books, supplies, etc.)

  • Health (insurance, medical bills, prescriptions, etc.)

  • Personal (clothing, grooming, hobbies, etc.)

  • Entertainment (movies, concerts, eating out, etc.)

  • Savings or debt repayments

To estimate your income and expenses, you can use different methods, such as:

  • Looking at your bank statements or receipts

  • Using online tools or apps (such as the student budget calculator in Member Resources)

  • Asking for advice from your parents or financial advisors.

The key is to be realistic and honest with yourself.

Don’t overestimate your income or underestimate your expenses.

Try to account for every penny you earn and spend.

Step 3:

Track Your Spending

The next step to create a student budget is to track your spending habits. This means recording every transaction you make and categorizing it according to your budget plan.

Tracking your spending habits can help you see where your money goes and how much you spend on each category, identify areas to save money or reduce costs, and adjust your budget if necessary.

So how do you get started?

  1. Deduct your projected essential expenses from your monthly or weekly income. After you’ve deducted the rent, electricity, WIFI, mobile phone, etc you will have identified your budget limit for food, personal items and socializing.

  2. What is the leftover money for? The remaining figure is the funds available for socializing, clothes, and emergencies.

  3. How do I know how to prioritize my funds? Remember that bills and essentials come FIRST, not a new pair of Converse just because they will go with your outfit this week. Ask yourself if you NEED a nice-to-have, and have you paid your essential bills yet or done your weekly food shop.

  4. Make adjustments if you find that you are spending more in one area, you can make cuts in another area to compensate. You may find you over-budgeted for food, whereas you’ve been sensible in batch cooking and buying bargains, therefore the savings you made can be put towards savings or socializing!

  5. How can I improve my budgeting skills? There are a number of apps available like Monzo or Zently to help you create a student budget effectively. Subscribe to our Member Resources for a helpful budget calculator template that does the work for you while you plug in the figures.

The key is to be consistent and accurate. Don't skip any transactions or forget any categories. Try to track your spending habits daily or weekly.

Step 4:

Save Money Where You Can

When you’re out shopping, remember that the store brand is probably just as good as a well-known brand label, and go for the cheaper version, which will help your budget stretch that much further.

Does a designer label shower gel wash your body any better than a store brand? No! Save pennies where you can!

Research student discounts in all domains from bank accounts to shops, to Amazon StudentPrime to restaurants.

Download the UniDays app and check out their offers – you can identify all the shops local to your area, and plan your purchases accordingly.

You will be entitled to discounts when you show your Student ID card, so use it! Sign up wherever you see applications or apps for store cards (the member kind, not credit card kind!) for shops that you will use regularly. Examples are supermarkets / grocery stores, drugstores, health food stores, restaurants, etc.

Every purchase will enable you to collect points which will give you immediate or periodic discounts as a student. You can even get a student discount with Waterstones and order our book through them!

A man calculating his budget using a calculator and counting cash.
Every cent counts - save where you can

Step 5:

Create a Budget for Your Student Living Expenses

Budgeting for your living expenses as a student is not as hard as it may seem, but it does take some planning and discipline. Just follow our Guide to Creating a Student Budget Plan.

You need to follow some simple steps and the advice in our book: estimate your income and expenses, track your spending habits, and adjust your budget as needed. By doing so, you’ll be able to save money, avoid debt, and enjoy your university life without worrying about money.

You'll also learn valuable financial skills that will serve you well for the rest of your life.

To understand the budgeting process and make it even easier, subscribe as a member and get immediate access to our downloadable student budget plan and calculator. You’ll also get access to other helpful checklists and student guides that will help you with every aspect of student life.

We offer a FREE online course on Budgeting Basics to get you started.

Don’t miss this opportunity to take control of your finances and achieve your goals. Subscribe to Member Resources now and create a student budget today!


If you need more help or guidance on how to navigate the transition from high school to university, check out our website. There you will find useful blogs, resources, and tricks for student savings such as meal planning, efficient food shopping, and tips on how to survive and thrive on campus.


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