Student Finance

How to Budget in Your First Year at University

By Uni Compare  · Nov 30th 2021

The books, food shopping and bills are a lot to handle all at once, especially when this is the first time most students have moved out of their home, however, we have some great tips.

Students working

Budgeting isn’t as hard as you think. There are plenty of tips and tricks that you can take up that will save you money in the long run, both in terms of food and nights out.

How to budget in your first year at university

Internet banking

This is a great tool to help you keep on track of your spending and what money you have available. It is best to check it regularly, as after a night out down the Student Union; you may not remember how much you spent the day before!

Check, check, check!

Check your spending, check your balance and check on your direct debits. If you are unsure about what bills come out when, try writing them down and on your calendar.

Leaving a few days before and after to ensure payments go through without a hitch is also a good idea, as not paying direct debits can cost you. Keeping an eye on your student finance is of tantamount importance.

Your banking apps will be more accessible, having a higher chance for you to use them and keep an eye on your money.

Set a weekly target

Work out how much you have until the next term and keep dividing it until you get a weekly budget. This is much more to manage. Instead of thinking you are in the big bucks, and before you offer to buy all your classmates a shot, you may want to re-calculate your figure.

Setting a weekly student budget, student budget planner and using a student budget calculator or a student budget template will help you make smarter decisions and see your money in real terms. You can even look for a student budget app to help as well.

Enough room for rewarding yourself

However, do allow some space in the budget for you to reward yourself now and again. Everybody needs down-time and the impulse to buy something purely from desire now and again. Just remember to add it into the budget, then it won’t seem so damaging after all!

How to budget in your first year at uni


Your banking apps will be more accessible, having a higher chance for you to use them and keep an eye on your money. There are also budgeting apps out there to help you if you are unsure where to start. It is best to look at it with your income and outgoings and realise where you’re spending too much money without needing to.

Only look after yourself

It can be tempting to help your friends out, by buying them a drink, as they’re low on funds but you really need to let your hair down, but think twice before you do it!

You could end up paying for two or three mate’s night out, and that does add up! It is a nice gesture, but everyone has their own problems when it comes to financing, and support them any way that you can, but don’t cut yourself short.

Check your spending, check your balance and check on your direct debits.


Smoking and drinking excessively are not only bad for your health and well-being but also for your pockets. They are expensive habits to keep, and you could find yourself smoking up to £1000 a year if you start this habit during university. They are both very social habits which can be hard to resist, but once your friends know you don’t smoke and drink as much as them, they’ll stop asking you, making it much, much easier.

Keep all receipts

It may seem silly to keep all your receipts, especially if one is for a bottle of Vanilla Coke from Tescos Extra, but trust us when we say practice this in the first term. Sometimes, you can get to the middle of the term and not understand where your money has gone, and panic strikes hard. Look at all of your receipts, and you can budget better for next term now that you realise where you spend the money in the wrong places.

Managing your money and student budgeting are very hard skills to learn, and some people never do learn them! However, we strongly advise that you start the practice now, so your university life is as smooth as possible. Check out our Student Finance section to read other articles on managing money.

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