Budgeting at University

Your student loan just came in. The temptation to spend it on new clothes, meals out and nights out is almost impossible to resist. You may have the willpower to leave your bank account alone, but if you end up in overdraft after the first month, maybe its time to think about budgeting.

Whether it’s your first or final year at university, money management throughout your studies is bound to be problematic. Prioritising your spending and finding a balance between buying things you want vs. you need can take some time to figure out.

Budgeting, though, is easier than you think. Buy second hand textbooks, shop for clothes in sales, or pack your own lunches. There are so many ways you can save here and there.

Food and Drink

Food and drink at university can get pricy. If it’s your first time having to cook for yourself, go food shopping and prepare your meals. It can be easy to overspend. Here are ideas to help you save some pennies:

  • Avoid impulse buys! Make a shopping list before heading to the supermarket and stick to it.
  • Look for unbranded alternatives. It’s no surprise that branded products cost double the price of shop-owned.
  • Pack your own lunches. If you have a day full of lectures avoid a pricey lunch by packing your own.
  • Invest in reusable cups and bottles. By simply grabbing a coffee and handing over your own reusable cup you can save you quite a bit of money. Not to mention, you’ll be helping the planet too!


If you think the cost of your university course is covered by your loan, you will be sadly mistaken. From textbooks to software, materials needed for your course have a hefty price tag. Let’s try to keep that cost as low as possible:

  • Look for second-hand uni books. It’s no lie that textbooks are expensive. Luckily, you’ll find that former students will sell their no longer needed textbooks. You never know, you may even find some useful notes in a second-hand book.
  • Use the library! Your university library isn’t just for books. The libraries are packed with computers which have programs you may need for your course installed. Including, Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office. 
  • Avoid buying new stationary every semester. It’s hard to resist a new notepad, highlighters and pens. But, remember, your old ones will do.


Day-to-day life is expensive at the best of times, so when you’re at university and have to live on a budget it can be tricky. We encourage you to:

  • Look out for student deals! Whether it’s discounts on clothes, meals, cinema tickets or gym memberships, there are student deals everywhere! UNiDAYS is a great website to check out.
  • Find ways to save on transport. Public transport companies offer travel cards for students which can save you a ton of money. Also, if you don’t have far to go, why not walk?


Having a good time at university can be just as essential as studying. But, day trips, nights out and other entertainment can leave your bank account dry. Here are some ways to have fun whilst on a budget:

  • Have a pre-party! If you’re plan to going out, drink at home before to avoid paying for drinks when out. Be careful not to drink too much before heading to the club. You won’t be let in if you can’t stand up!
  • This one is a bit of a challenge but, avoid buying a new outfit for every occasion. It’s okay to wear the same outfit on a night out twice.
  • Check out the entertainment that your university’s student union is running. Your university’s SU will run cheap or even free events all the time!
Karis Nash

Lifestyle Writer

Aspiring writer and animal lover, Karis, is a 20-year-old media student from the UK. If not found indulging in a chai latte and reading Vogues latest edition, you may find Karis walking around central London with a camera in her hands. She loves to travel and wishes to discover all that the world has to offer.

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