Most students have to live on a limited income while at university, so it’s essential that you are prepared by getting your finances in order before you arrive, and making a realistic spending plan at the beginning of each year.

Did you know that over 76% of students wished they’d learned more about personal finance and money management before they graduated? That's why we've put together a guide on how you can plan your finances, and some tips on how to save money and still have fun.

How to budget

Budgeting your time, energy and money will help to prevent money worries and help you get the most out of your student experience.

It’s really important to draw up and keep to a realistic budget. If you don’t you could get confused over how much money you have coming in and going out. It’s important to work out your budget before you start your studies to make sure you have enough money to live on.

Your student loan will come in three instalments. Planning your budget will help you ensure that your payments cover all the essentials, such as rent, food and other expenses. 

Plan your budget in 3 simple steps

  1. Figure out your income

    Add up your maintenance loan, any bursaries you receive, money from family members if they send you money regularly and any regular income you get from a part-time job.

  2. Identify the essentials

    Put aside the money you need for essentials like rent and utility bills (if in private accommodation). You'll also want to consider food and travel costs, plus any essential committed spending, such as your mobile phone bill.

  3. Calculate what's left over

    Divide what you have left by the number of weeks the money will need to last. This will be they money you have to save, spend on socialising or buying non-essential items. We also highly recommend that you use your overdraft for emergencies only.

Budget extras

Alongside academic essentials you may have to purchase, there will be other things you should remember to include that you might not have thought about. For example, you might want to ask yourself:

  • How often will I want to travel home to see family and friends?
  • Will I want to join a gym, or a club that could cost money on a regular basis?
  • Will I want to use any paid online entertainment services for TV, music or gaming?
  • What kind of self-care do I want to keep up with, such as haircuts or beauty treatments?

You will also need to consider the cost of securing your accommodation for the next academic year, as you may need to pay a deposit to letting agencies in the spring/summer terms to ensure that you have somewhere to live next year.

Help with budgeting

If the thought of managing your money on your own seems daunting, then don't panic. There are plenty of online tools available to help you stay on track, not to mention our Money & Guidance Advisors who are available to chat to all year round.

Budget planner tools

To help get you started check out this useful guide from Money Saving Expert and handy budget planner from Save The Student. Just add your income and outgoings following the column headings (or customise your own). The spreadsheet will then do the calculations for you and track whether you're living within your means each month.

Download Save the Student budget spreadsheet

Recommended apps

Make sure you stick to your budget and don’t overspend by using online banking apps to help manage your money. There are lots of apps out there, but a few we’d recommend are:

Money saving bots

Money saving bots make it easier than ever to put money away for a rainy day. Using some clever maths, money saving bots can assess your spending, decide how much you can afford to save, and put it away for you. All you have to do is give the app access to your bank account (don't worry, it's read-only), and it'll take care of the rest.

There are a few bots out there, but we'd recommend Chip as it's currently the only one to offer interest on your savings.

Improve your money skills with Blackbullion

Learning how to manage your money is an important life skill. Staffs offers a wide range of support to help you develop essential money skills and get confident about your finances. That's why we’ve partnered with financial education specialists, Blackbullion to help all our students become money-savvy.

Blackbullion is a digital learning platform created to help you get to grip with all things money related. It’s filled with videos, graphics, and quizzes covering financial subjects designed to provide you with money skills for life.

You can sign up for free using your university email address. Once registered you’ll be able to earn digital badges as you complete the learning pathways and take part in exclusive competitions.

Sign up with Blackbullion

Once you've signed up, to help get you started we’ve listed some of the most popular learning pathways and tools:

  • Starting University - Figure out your finances, sort out your spending and start living the university life

  • Fees and Funding - Find out how tuition fee loans work, how much you’ll repay and how interest on your loan is calculated

  • Budgeting - Learn how to create a manageable plan that will set you up for success

  • Budget Calculator  - Understand and plan for your financial circumstances with this easy to use budgeting calculator

  • Student Lifestyle - Make the most of your uni experience and find out how to cut costs on necessary spending

  • 21 Day Money Saving Challenge - Challenge yourself and get your finances in shape for the academic year with some quick, long-lasting courses.

  • Scams - Discover ways to recognise scams and more importantly how to protect yourself against them.

Student discounts

Make sure you take advantage of the various student discount services available to you to get the very best deals on clothing, tech and travel.


TOTUM is the UK’s biggest student discount card and gives you access to loads of top brand student discounts and deals on eating out, fashion, and everything in between. There are 3 different options and the TOTUM lite is free!


UNiDAYS offers free discounts to students for as long as you're enrolled on your course - whether you're looking to save money on a gym membership, or restock your skin care - there's lots of discounts to take advantage of.


Use your university email address to sign up and start saving instantly with StudentBeans. With both in-store and online offers available, this free service is a great choice for any student on a budget.

Asking for help

We hope that the tips on this page will help you to plan your budget and manage your money with confidence, but we understand that sometimes not everything goes to plan. If you find yourself struggling, do not suffer in silence. Reach out to people you trust, or speak to one of our Money & Guidance Advisors

There's usually a simple solution that can help alleviate some of your worries to help you to get back to enjoying your time at Staffordshire University. 

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