You have just started university and The Student Loans Company have just deposited a big chunk of money into my account, your first thought is what do I do with this? How long does it have to last? When will I get my next chunk?
Your first reaction may be to spend the money on new clothes, a holiday or even pay for driving lessons, but the money is for more than that. If you are living away from how this money will have to support you for the term, including food, books, equipment and bills. If you are living at home, it will have to cover your travel costs and we know that can be expensive, along with other universities expenses.
As a student, you may find it hard to manage your money. The best way to manage your finances is to do a budget so you do not fall into the trap of not having enough cash, of over spending and possibly living off packet noodles for most of the year. Using a budget will help you develop the essential money management skills you will need throughout your life.
Completing a budget is simple but it does take a bit of time. You need to be aware of all the income you receive for the month, this will include your salary from a part-time job and any other regular income. You then need to write down how much you have to pay out each month, including all essential and non-essential spending. Essential spending is a generally a fixed amount every month and something that you would have to pay, for example a monthly travel card. Non-essential spending is flexible as you decided on how much you would like to spend on clothes or socialising. For all non-essential spending you should ask the questions “Do I need this?” “Do I want this?”
I have created a printable monthly budget template you can download here Monthly Budget Template
There are lots of resources available to support you in creating a budget and making the most of your money for example Money Saving Expert has lots of information specifically aimed at students. And the UCAS budget calculator looks at average costs of being a student across different parts of the country. And once you start university seek out help and support from the finance team, they can help with budgeting, access to bursaries and additional financial support in case of emergencies, always ask for help.