While planning a budget isn't the most exciting thing you'll ever do there are a number of benefits to planning your finances and sticking to a budget:

  • it helps reduce the stress which can be associated with money
  • it allows you to make the most of your time at university and enjoy it
  • it allows you to be independent and financially capable
  • it puts you in control of your money and allows you to identify danger points throughout the year where your money may be stretched
  • you can make informed choices about your spending
  • it helps you to identify areas where you overspend
  • it can help to reduce the long term consequences of unwise spending decisions

Planning a budget


The key to successful budgeting is honesty - be realistic about what you do spend. Be sure to include even the small things like the odd glossy magazine or morning coffee, it all adds up.

If you aren't sure where to start you could monitor your spending habits for a week or two using our daily tracker form (PDF: 82KB) or you could try using Credit Action's Spendometer which allows you to keep track of your spending using your mobile phone - there really is no excuse for not being able to keep track of your finances! It's a good idea to set up online banking as this also helps you to check your balance regularly and keep track of the activity in your account (s).

Plan your finances for the whole of your academic year so you know what to expect. Use our budget planner (PDF: 259KB) to help you identify what money you've got coming in and what you have to spend over the year and during each term. Our cashflow forecaster Excel: 60KB) will also help you to break down your finances month by month.

There's lots of budgeting resources out there. The following funding calculators may be useful when you start thinking about budgeting but as everyone's different do some research to find the resources and tools which work for you.

Sticking to a budget

Once you have worked out a realistic budget, in order to make it work for you there is a certain amount of self-discipline involved. By following some easy steps it could help you to keep on track:

  • withdraw your weekly allowance in cash at the start of the week so you know how much you have to spend
  • avoid using debit or credit cards for purchases as this makes it difficult to keep track of your spending
  • use online banking and check your accounts regularly or sign up for text service if your bank offers this to track your balance
  • don't use cash machines which charge you for withdrawing your money
  • always open paper bank statements and correspondence and check through them thoroughly. Look out for any errors, evidence of fraud and unpaid items
  • regularly review your budget - is it still realistic?
  • don't give in to temptation or peer pressure and spend more of your weekly allowance with the intention of getting back on track the following week
  • if you have some spare cash left over out of your weekly allowance starting saving it up - it will quickly add up and you can use your savings to buy the odd treat

Check our sections on how to:

If you want to work out your own personal budget and aren't sure where to start with us you can book an appointment with one our Student Finance Advisers.