Make a budget & stick to it
Budgeting is not always fun and it can be challenge, but thinking ahead and planning for your finances will help you not only get through, but also enjoy your time in university, as well as it being a good habit to have for the future.
Create a budget
- Creating a budget will allow you to easily track your outgoings, help you to allocate funds to cover your essentials, and allow you to plan ahead.
- Make use of savvy student budget calculators to help you get started.
- Log in to Blackbullion using your King’s email address.
Work out what's coming in
- Put in your monthly income
- Can you increase your income?
- Part-time work? Check out I want to get a job while studying
- Have you claimed all the funding available? Check out What loans, grants or scholarships can I get from King’s?
Work out what's going out
Put in your monthly expenditure
- Present: List your survival costs - the things you must pay: rent, household bills, utilities, food etc. With the remainder, consider what you want but do not need.
- Past: Do you have any priority debts to pay?
- Future: Plan for emergency or short-term costs (e.g. birthdays, holidays). Think about avoiding unnecessary credit whilst studying, so long-term expenses such as a car or a house become possible sooner.
Review your bank statements and receipts to make sure you've included everything.
Can you cut down the costs?
- Deal with the easy saves first; make sure you're getting your full loan entitlement and travel discounts, consider switching energy or phone bills.
- Still in the red? Look at some daily saves; do you really need the latte on the way to class? Bring a packed lunch to class and skip the meal deal. Check out the Demotivator to see how this adds up to big savings.
- If you have a tendency to impulse buy, stop and think; Do you need it? Sleep on it. Resist the sales - 40% off is still paying 60% more than nothing.
If you could use some extra tips, get in touch with the Money Mentors.
If you’re struggling with money and cover your costs, get in touch with the Money & Housing Advice team.
Review & repeat every month
There you go! It might seem a little tedious at first, but once you get into the habit of it, you will have one less thing to worry about, and developed great money management skills in the process.
Check what you’ve missed!
We’re all human – we forget things. Even the most careful of people might forget a thing or two, or did not account for something unexpected. By having developing this habit to check on yourself, you will be more prepared when an unexpected expense need to be taken.
Use online banking
Using online banking can help you keep track of your spending. A top tip would be to make sure to check in on your account every few days, because sometimes card transactions can take a few days to show up in your record.
Plan your food shop & cook in bulk
Planning your meals for the week ahead and sticking to a shopping list when doing your weekly shop, will help you to only buy the things you need. Don’t underestimate the power of a grocery list to deter you from those unwanted snacks; it can be tempting to grab a quick snack on your way back home every day – but those pennies add up!
- Stock up on staples like pasta, canned vegetables and soups, as they have a longer shelf life.
- If you’ve got extra space in your freezer, try and cook in bulk and freeze leftovers whenever possible. Don’t forget to read any packaging to check if your food is suitable for freezing.
- Take a look at some student-friendly recipes for some inspiration!
- For lots of handy tips and a guide to where to shop, read our Top tips on shopping as a student
Consider sharing costs
It’s not for everyone – but why not try sharing the cooking responsibilities amongst your flatmates? That way you can save money, get less tired of cooking, and learn to cook new dishes!
You might also want to think about a communal money “pot” that everyone contributes to, for household items such as toilet roll, cleaning supplies, even some shared foods. This can help you save costs. However, be careful to plan this money carefully with your flat/house mates, so everyone is clear on what the money will be spent on and shared responsibilities.
Make the most of student discounts
Relish in your student status and take advantage of the various discounts available to you throughout your studies.
- Sign up with UNiDAYS and TOTUM/NUS, who work in partnership with various brands to get you exclusive discounts on food, technology and more!
- Save money on travelling with a 18-25 or 26-30 railcard. Find out more about travel discounts in What travelcards & discounts can I get on public transport?
Take note of the small things
Consider your spending; do you really need that £3 latte every morning? Could you afford to get up a little earlier so you can walk instead of spending £1.50 for the bus every morning?
The small things add up; adding up a regular coffee, if we do the math is £3 x 365 = £1095; you will be spending £1095 on just coffee a year!
Cheaper alternative: You could bring your own homemade coffee in a tumbler every day and save up to go on a holiday instead.
Take a look at your spending and find the small things you can cut down on.
Compare & switch
Use websites like Uswitch, Compare the Market, GoCompare, MoneySavingExpert, MoneySuperMarket and Which? to make sure you are getting the best deal.
Consider ways of saving money
- Getting the best deals on utilities, internet, and mobile phones can help you save money
- Use websites like Uswitch, Compare the Market, GoCompare, MoneySavingExpert, MoneySuperMarket and Which? to make sure you are getting the best deal.
- Save the Student’s Student Bills has many articles on how to save money as well, such as the best mobile phone deals and ways to save money on your energy bill.
- Avoiding subscribing to all the streaming sites: It’s important to consider whether you are using all the sites you have signed up to. It may be worth figuring out which sites you use the most and which ones you should cancel.
- Avoid spending too much money on food: If you tend to shop ‘ad-hoc’ – for whatever you fancy, when you want it, you can end up spending more than you need to without realising it. Planning your shopping and your meals can help both with your budgeting as well as keeping you well-fed.
- For detailed tips on shopping, check out our article Top tips on shopping as a student.
For more handy tips check out Save The Student: How to save money – 83 practical ways.
Once you've found ways of cutting your costs, you might consider working towards a savings goal; putting aside a bit of money weekly or monthly for something you would like to do, maybe a holiday once restrictions allow!
Emergency fund: Setting aside some money regularly for an emergency fund could be really useful. Unexpected costs can arise at anytime and having it will give you peace of mind. These could include sudden health costs such as needing new glasses, contact lenses or dental treatment. For items such as these, we recommend finding out more the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS) which can help with health costs if you have a low income.
Check out Blackbullion’s Savings module for more information.
Say "no" to Payday loans
Payday loans might seem like an easy way out of a money issue – but you are just digging yourself a deeper hole. Interest rates are unbelievably high (it can go up to 2000%). This will just negatively impact your credit score in the future and put you in greater debt.
Beware of scams
Keep an eye out for any scams, in the form of phishing emails and texts, event scams or discounts for paying fees. There are also more serious scams concerning student fee fraud and money laundering you should be aware of.
To find out more:
Consider working alongside your studies
- I want to get a job while studying
- Do I need to pay taxes if I work during my studies?
- What is National Insurance (NI) and do I need it?
For International students:
Our article I’m on a Student visa, can I work while I’m studying? provides guidance for students on a Student visa, looking to work while studying in the UK.
Consider alternative ways of boosting your finances
Once you have figured out your budget, it’s worth considering how you can boost your income. Getting a job is one way, but if you fancy that or it's not an option for you, you could consider these:
- Selling your old things for cash: Take stock of your belongings, sort through and consider what you could get rid of. Websites like Depop, Ebay and Facebook Marketplace are examples of where you can advertise items you no longer need and get some cash in return. Save the Student have put together a list of platforms you can use to sell Books and Clothes, as well as ideas for other things you can sell.
- Important to know: Be aware of seller’s fees on these platforms.
- Online surveys: Websites can offer money or vouchers in return for completing various surveys. Save the Student’s article has top tips and lists some of the best paid online survey sites.
- Be aware that these organisations often require you to complete a certain number of surveys and can be quite tedious in order to get something substantial out of it.
- Be careful since not all websites of this nature are legitimate.
- Research studies: The research recruitment team at King’s often sends emails about studies that are looking for volunteers. Some studies offer money or vouchers in return for your time and participations. These are good one-off ways to earn some money. The amount you have to do may vary, from completing a single survey online to attending in-person sessions. Be sure to check the description and contact the research team if you have any questions.
For other ways to make money, check out Save the Student’s Make Money.
Important to know: If you are studying on a visa, this may affect your right to work and make money. Always check your visa and our guidance on working while studying.
Ask for help if you’re struggling
If you are starting to feel like your finances are spiralling out of control, it is never too early to ask for help. It can be really scary and difficult to admit that you need help but the earlier really is the better.
If you are experiencing money difficulties, if you're not sure what guidance or which support options most apply to you, please get in touch with our specialist Advisers who can provide you with free and confidential advice.
For more information on how Advice Services can support you, take a look at our article What student support services are available?.
Some of our articles you may find especially helpful:
Extra support & advice
- Blackbullion offer lots of guidance around managing your money.
- The Money & Housing Advice team have also produced a video series on Financial Wellbeing which you may find very helpful, which includes topics on where your money goes, how to budget and funding studies on health/clinical courses.
- Read the Money Mentors' Blog.
For more tips on how to save money, take a look at 15 ways to make your money stretch further from Save the Student.
You can also check out some blogs from our Money Mentors: