How to manage your finances at university

18 November 2020

Let's be honest, managing your finances isn’t always easy and we all want our money to go further. We’ve asked our undergraduates to share their budgeting top tips to help you effectively manage your finances at university.   

Track your expenses

"Before I started studying at Warwick Business School, I tried to budget for my first year based on the income from my scholarship and the typical expenses I would have, like groceries. However, when I got to university, I realised I had to tweak certain figures as my consumption was different to what I expected, as you cannot predict everything.

I would recommend setting up an Excel spreadsheet. I created a spreadsheet which covered my income and all of my expenses for each month, as well as a column for what I actually spent in a month, so this was updated under a specific category every time I spent money or gained extra income. At the end of the month, I would compare the budgeted and actual spend columns to see where I over/underspent and I would adjust the next month’s figures accordingly. It’s not easy to have a set amount for each month but by noting it all down within a spreadsheet you can keep on top of it as much as possible."

- Zari Dowrich - BSc Management - Final Year Undergraduate

Use apps to budget

Jan Sterba

"As an overseas student coming from a country with generally much lower earnings than the UK, planning my budget was especially important throughout my entire time at the University of Warwick. It is very important to plan your spending according to your budget, so you don’t end up in a situation where you eat plain rice for a week before you get some more money.

I would recommend tracking your expenses using a budgeting mobile app or just split the budget weekly rather than monthly. You will then be able to have better control over your finances and hopefully avoid running out of money. An app is also useful to have as it is on your mobile and easy to access." 

- Jan Sterba - BSc International Management - 2020 Graduate

Spend within your budget

Shubh Mehta

"Being an international student, my expenditures can be significantly higher than home students. However, Warwick caters to people who have all types of budgetary requirements. On-campus accommodation has various options for different budgets. During the term time, I spend anywhere between £600-2000 pounds depending on my own individual needs and preferences.

If you are a student who enjoys partying and exploring then your expenditures can be higher, however if you prefer chilling with your friends in your houses then expenses can be reduced. It really depends on your lifestyle choices, just keep a track of what you are spending so you can learn to manage your finances while at university."

- Shubh Mehta - BSc Management (with Finance) - Final Year Undergraduate

Account for one-time expenses

Deborah Ajide

"Budgeting can be really tricky when you’re living alone for the first time and, if I'm being honest, I've not always been the master of it. I cannot exactly tell you how much you will need each month at university, as it highly depends on who you are and what you like.

What you should know about budgeting at university is that your monthly expenses can fluctuate. Generally speaking, the first month at university is the most expensive; you will have to consider any society fees and the fees of your respective sport. However, even though these costs are quite pricey, they are a one-time expense. On top of this, you only really spend money on food and any additional activities such as travelling around the country (when it is safe to do so). Your monthly budget entirely depends on your lifestyle; I have friends with a £100 budget and friends with a £1000 budget. Therefore, it is entirely up to you. The only thing you should account for is that the first month is going to be more expensive as you’re moving in and most probably buying things you forgot to bring with you, but after that it is only about financing the lifestyle you choose."

- Deborah Ajide - BSc Management - Third Year Undergraduate

Download the Warwick Budget CalculatorJinesh Timbadia

"Coming from an international background, when I first came to university, I was unaware of how to manage my finances. Some quick research led me to find the Warwick Budget Calculator app that is easy to use and very intuitive.

I also found it useful to think of my budgets in a weekly manner. As there are 10 weeks in an academic term, I would set aside a weekly budget and plan accordingly. The money that I managed to save at the end of each week I put to one side to allow me to go on a short holiday during the term break!"

- Jinesh Timbadia - BSc Accounting & Finance - 2020 Graduate

Research online

Laiba Ather

"I personally researched before I arrived at Warwick and used online resources which gave me a great overview of how much the average student spends at university and then tailored it towards my own daily habits. 

One of the articles that I previously read which helped was written by Which? titled 'How much it costs to live at university'. Researching beforehand can really help guide you when it comes to budgeting as, for most of us, it’s a new experience." 

- Laiba Ather - BSc Management - Final Year Undergraduate

We are here to support and motivate every student to unlock their full potential, find out more about Warwick Business School by downloading our Undergraduate brochure.