Budgeting advice for students | NatWest

Budgeting advice for students

The best way to manage your money as a student is to map out a budget. Planning your budget isn’t always easy, but it’s an important part of student life.


Seeing a big figure landing in your bank account for the first time can be misleading. Your maintenance loan will only come in three instalments, one at the start of each term, so learning to making it last is one of the most important lessons of your first year of university. 


As a student you might not have income from work, unless you have a part-time job, but you'll probably have income from student loans, grants, and contributions from family. To make a budget, you need to start by working out how much income you'll have each week or month at the start of each term.


Once you know how much you'll have to spend, you can start looking at what you need to spend it on. Try to work out what your expenditure will be over the same period – weekly or monthly. The key trick now is to make sure that your income is either more or the same as your expenditure. If expenditure is higher you’re going to run out of money!

Budgeting advice for students


Top tip: Don’t just budget once. To make it really work you need to keep reviewing and adjusting as you learn more about your student spending habits. The beauty of budgeting is that the more you do it, the easier it gets.
Student budget checklist

If you don’t remember all the things your maintenance loan needs to cover, you could end up feeling like you have more money than you actually do. Early overspending will make things very tight at the end of term but fear not -  a well thought-out budget will stand you in good stead. Use our checklist below to make sure you don’t leave anything out. 

Halls and accommodation
  • Rent
  • Utility bills (if they aren’t included as part of your rent)
  • Local bus or train travel card (to save on single fares)
  • Car costs (if you have one): petrol, insurance, MOT, parking 
  • Taxi fares
Study materials
  • Stationery
  • University books from your reading list
  • Study-related tech or software
  • Any specialist items specific to your course
Household shopping
  • Food and drink
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Toiletries
Social and entertainment
  • TV licence
  • Eating out
  • Cinema trips
  • Sports clubs or gym memberships
  • Film or music streaming subscription services
  • Concerts, festivals and student events 
Finance and insurance
  • Contents insurance
  • Loan repayments
  • Any credit card and store card repayments 
Other things to think about
  • Clothes and footwear
  • Mobile phone contract
  • Emergency funds for unexpected surprises, like late fees for library books or an unplanned taxi fare
Tools to help you at university

Savings Goal Tool

Set up a savings goal to help you save for a house, car or holiday.

Salary Calculator

Work out what your take home pay is each month after tax and deductions.

Budget Calculator

Use our calculator to budget at university.

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