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Smart Savings: A student’s guide to budgeting success at university

student Mia
Mia, Paramedic Science BSc(Hons)

Managing your finances at university might feel overwhelming but do not fear—I’ve got a budgeting strategy that’s been such a great tool for keeping me on track. Let’s dive into my approach of categorising using money pots. 

Mastering the four money pots 

So, you’ve got four money pots, and you’re going to want two sets—one in your main bank account and the other in your savings accounts. In your savings account you will have the bulk of the term money, separated into each category. Then weekly, you will transfer your weeks budget from each category into your daily use bank account. This helps you stay disciplined and in control of how much money you are spending. 

The categories

  • Rent/Bills: Guard this pot with your life! Keep enough in it to cover the big stuff, and stash it in your main bank account to dodge overdraft surprises. 
  • Transport: I have a car and am a Paramedic student, so I set aside cash for fuel. For those who are not running a car, factor in public transport. 
  • Food: Don’t skimp on your food! Allocate a sensible amount each week to keep yourself fed and happy. 
  • Other: Use this for fun stuff like nights out, treating yourself to a new top, or that much-needed coffee fix.

Calculate your weekly allowance

When your student loan comes in, take out your rent money (if your student loan covers it, or if your income is work/parents/bursaries use this. Cover this straight away).   

Then, the money you have left needs to be divided into the other pots. To divide this money you need to times your weekly allowance of each pot by how many weeks of the term there are. (I do it termly because student loans are termly so makes it easier for me!) You calculate how much each pot’s weekly allowance is by doing the following.   

For food, you want to do a food shop of average things you would normally need for a week, including meat, milk etc. The price of this you then want to round up to the nearest £10 to make sure you budget yourself enough money. For me, this is £40.   

For transport, consider your average cost per week and cover yourself accordingly, for me this is £20.   

For other, I usually use the rest of my money and divide by how many weeks of the term there are. For me this is usually around £15.   

Example

  • Student Loan: £7000 per year 
  • Parents: £1000 per year 
  • Annual Rent: £5000 
  • Remaining for Living: £2000 
  • Assuming you go home in holidays, you have roughly 32 weeks at university. £2000 divided by 32 weeks is £92.50 per week 

  • Weekly Allowance Calculation: 
  • Food: £40 (rounded up from actual grocery costs) 
  • Transport: £20 (based on weekly mileage) 
  • Other: The rest divided by the number of weeks in the term

Remember, this system is all about flexibility. Adjust your pots based on your needs, I hope this strategy helps you make the most of your money!   

Pound coins

Word from the uni…

We have expert teams to support and advise all students, undergraduate and postgraduate, UK and international, with all aspects of student finance, funding and budgeting.

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Mia Collins • 18th January 2024


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