Learning how to budget as a student ensures that you can progress through your studies without worrying about the stresses associated with financial mismanagement. Also, putting together a budget ensures that your student loan and any other income goes further, helping you live comfortably.
But in reality, many students don’t consider budgeting before heading off to university, and 74% admit that they wish they’d received a better financial education before heading to uni.
We hope that by the end of this piece, you'll have all the information you need to put together your student budget and make your life at university a little bit easier.
Why is budgeting important for students?
Budgeting is important for students because it helps your limited resources go a little further while at university. Whether relying on a student loan or working a part-time job, you want to ensure that you spend your money wisely.
What’s more, budgeting is a big part of growing up and becoming independent, so it’s an essential skill to learn during your time at university. What’s more, creating a student budget can help you in the following ways:
Budgeting helps students track their expenses and save money
The first step with any budget is that it allows you to track your expenses alongside your income, be it from a student loan or a part-time job.
When you allocate money to cover your expenses, you can then look at different ways of saving money, which will help you when you graduate and take your first step on the career ladder.
Budgeting helps students create a plan for how they will use their money
When you leave home for the first time to study at university, it’s tempting to spend your cash erratically – enjoying nights out and buying too much food at the supermarket, for instance.
Therefore, creating a student budget is essential, as it helps you plan for each expense. This way, you will be less tempted to waste money.
Budgeting helps students not spend more money than they have
A problem that so many students face is running the risk of spending more money than they have. Without a budget, your excessive spending will cause problems when it’s time to pay your rent and other bills at the end of the month. So, creating a budget ensures that you spend within your means and do not put yourself in financial difficulties as a student.
Budgeting helps students pay for their essentials
Essential expenses for students are things like tuition fees, rent, utility bills, groceries, and textbooks. Every month, you need to allocate enough money to cover these core costs, and what’s left over can be spent on other expenses associated with student life.
But it’s really important to get your priorities sorted, and creating a budget means you will have enough money each month to pay for your essentials.
Budgeting helps students avoid debt
When you leave university, you will be tasked with repaying your student loan, meaning that debt is unavoidable for most students. However, the last thing you want is to leave university with excessive credit card debt or even personal loans that you need to pay back.
Being responsible with your money and budgeting accordingly will help you avoid debt and leave university without a huge financial burden.
How to start budgeting as a student?
Creating and sticking to a student budget can be challenging, but it’s a great way to ensure your money is going where you want it to go. Following these steps, you can make a budget that works for you and your financial goals.
Determine your income
Step number one when creating a student budget is determining your income. Every student is different, but your income streams are likely to be the following:
· Financial aid
· Student loan (while income, a student loan is also a debt)
· Part-time job
· Money from parents
Work out how much income you have each month from the above sources, and you can then begin to plan for your expenses. Remember that some of the above sources of income, like student loans and scholarships, are paid quarterly or even annually, meaning that you will need to break down your budget accordingly.
Determine your expenses
Now that you know how much income you have each month, it’s time to look at your expenses. You should begin by listing your core expenses as a student, which are likely to include the following:
· Tuition fees
· Utility bills
You need to make sure that you cover all of your essential expenses before adding other items to your list, such as nights out, new clothes, and various leisure activities. Your job as a student is to cover your essentials, and the small amount you have left over goes toward the other costs associated with the student lifestyle.
Make a budget
With your income and expenditure listed, it’s time to create a budget. HyperJar’s Jars are a great way to organise your spending and ensure that you cover your essentials. Setting up jars for your different expenses is a way of holding yourself to account and ensuring that you don’t overspend on a particular area of your budget each month.
You can effortlessly allocate your money to your essentials before creating jars for wants like entertainment and new clothes. You can also leave money aside for unexpected monthly costs, such as medical bills or car repairs.
Track your spending
Once you’ve created your budget, it’s important to track your spending and hold yourself accountable. You can do this with a simple spreadsheet online or pen and paper.
However, downloading a budgeting app like HyperJar is the perfect way to track your spending and ensure you’re within your budget every month. There are various features of HyperJar that are perfect for students, helping you plan for your monthly income.
Make adjustments as needed
It’s important not to regard your budget as a static document, never to be looked at again. You will need to adjust your budgets as and when necessary, either to reflect an increase in your income or to reflect the rise in your expenses (or both).
Adjusting your budget is important as it opens up the possibility of saving money, particularly if you can identify ways to reduce your expenses. As a student, you can open a cash or stocks and shares ISA to start saving each month while earning interest, which will serve you well when you finally graduate.
Student budget templates and examples
While you can create your own budget, referring to a student budget template is a great way to get started, ensuring that you cover all bases as far as your income and expenditure are concerned.
The best student budget templates include a budget worksheet and a student loan payment calculator to help you calculate your income. The student loan payment calculator includes fields for the loan amount, interest rate, and repayment period, covering all bases.
Alongside the loan calculator, you can make the most of the budget worksheet, which includes columns for income, expenses, and net income/expenses, making your life so much easier when creating a student budget.
If you’re unsure where to begin, using a student budget template is a good idea as it identifies the various categories you need to consider when creating a budget.
Budgeting is essential at all stages of life, not just when you’re a student. But the time you spend as a student is a time when you don’t have a great deal of money, meaning that you need to make it go as far as it possibly can.
When you budget as a student, you also prepare yourself for later in life when you need to budget for yourself and your family. So, we hope that you have found the above tips and strategies helpful as you prepare a simple student budget to make your life at university less stressful.