Budgeting Tips!

We asked student's who attended our Money Doctors budgeting workshops if they could suggest any budgeting or money saving tips and here are the results:

1. WINNING TIP: Re-use plastic bottles. 500ml of water is definitely not worth £1 or more - by Rachel Gibson

2. Don't do a food shop on an empty stomach - you will only buy what you want, not what you need.

3. Buy in bulk - shop for the week instead of daily.

4. Plan your meals, write a shopping list and stick to it.

5. Turn lights off, save on electricity.

6. Subscribe to loyalty cards and use points for shopping

7. Check comparing price websites.

8. Put your spare change in a moneybox, it may be very useful towards the end of term or for a special occasion.

9. Set a spending goal for each week and try not to go over it.  Spending below it will be a bonus.

10. Look out for 'offers'

11. Buy second-hand. Good for the pocket and the environment.

12. Compare branded and own brand goods.

13. Always keep receipts.

14. Shop together, share and have fun.


For most students the largest expense is accommodation. Costs can vary quite a lot depending on whether you choose to live in university accommodation, private halls or a private house.  You should check carefully the length of your tenancy before signing the agreement.  The amount of weeks varies greatly, from as little as 32 weeks for university catered halls, up to 52 week contracts which can work out very costly.

Students who choose to live in university accommodation or private halls of residence will normally have utility bills included in the cost of their rent.  Students choosing to live a private house may have to budget for utility bills separately. 

If you are a NHS funded student, your income is paid differently to other students, and this may affect your ability to meet your accommodation payments on time.  For example, many landlords, private halls of residences, and the University expect the rent to be paid at the start of each term, some even insist on payment in two instalments at the start of each semester.  Whilst this is difficult enough when you are getting your funding in three instalments, it becomes even more difficult when part of your funding is paid monthly over the whole year, so that you actually receive part of it when your are not on your course.  How will you manage your income so that you can meet your commitments?


Gas / Electricity / Water

If not included in the cost of rent you'll probably spend approximately £10 per week, you may find it easier to set up direct debits to avoid unexpected bills.

Contents insurance

Whatever type of accommodation you're living in it is worth paying insurance to cover your personal belongings.  Check that you are not covered by your parents' insurance, nor that your landlord does not cover you, before paying for a policy.


Decide whether you will need a landline as well as a mobile.  If you do not use the landline you will still have to pay the line rental.  Obviously, a landline is essential if you are going to use the Internet.

TV Licence

If you are living in halls of residence you will need your own TV licence.  If you are going to be sharing a house you will need a TV licence if you have your own separate tenancy agreement, as this normally means that you room is classified as a separately occupied place.  If your house can be treated as one place shared by all, then only one TV licence is required (a joint tenancy agreement would normally indicate that there is only one separately occupied place).  If you are going home for the summer and you're not going to need your licence again before it expires, you can claim a refund from any completely unused quarter (three consecutive calendar months e.g. July, August and September).  You'll probably need to buy your licence at the beginning of your first term in order to receive a refund, so the earlier you get it, the better chance you have of claiming some money back.

Council Tax

Registered full-time students do not have to pay Council Tax.  Exemption certificates can be ordered from Spider or The Student Administration Centre.


Most of the major banks will offer you an interest free overdraft.  You should make sure you shop around the different banks to see which have the best overdraft levels and what special offers they have.  An overdraft is not automatically offered with a student account, and you will have to apply for it when opening your account.

Budgeting tips

  • Make sure you know how much Maintenance Loan, Maintenance Grant and bursary you are entitled to and that you are receiving the right amount
  • If a parental contribution is required, make sure you have arranged when and how this will be paid to you
  • Spend time planning and prepare a budget sheet.  Try and stick to a budget for weekly essentials.  
  • Prioritise your expenditure
  • Consider setting up standing orders / direct debits - this can help you to plan and make regular payments to all the places you need to without worrying about missing payment dates
  • Plan for extra expenditure at the start of the year e.g. field trips, special occasions, family birthdays etc
  • Budget a weekly amount for entertainment and socialising, and try not to exceed this
  • Spend some time choosing your student bank account.  Look at the amount of interest free overdrafts each bank offers - going over your agreed overdraft level is expensive
  • Open, read and keep your bank statements.  You may need them and duplicate copies may have to be paid for
  • Don't rush out an buy all the books on your reading list.  Check to see which ones are essential, make use of the library and look for second-hand book shops
  • Make use of all student discounts available