Global Business School for Health


How to manage your budget as a student

24 April 2023

An international student shares 8 tips on managing your financial budget as a student at GBSH.

managing financial budget as student

Many of us are fairly new to the concept of independent living. As international students, we make an active choice to leave our safety nets in search for something bigger. The first problem I encountered on this path was managing the money. In the current cost of living crisis in the UK, it can be difficult to manage finances and savings. A major chunk of the student budget is taken up by tuition fees, rent, travel, essentials, food, and leisure. Although there’s no way to control the former two, one can try cutting down on or wisely managing the rest of the expenses. 

Here are some tips and tricks to help you survive the cost of living crisis and save up!

1) Use budgeting apps

To strengthen your student budget, you must have a thorough understanding of your outgoing expenditures and how they compare to your income.

Expenditures include but are not limited to the following: housing, utilities, Internet access, groceries, transportation, books, and tuition.

It's also important to be completely forthright about the amount of money you're spending on things like restaurants, cable TV, takeout, and anything else you may not really need. Following this, you must compare your outflows with your income. You may evaluate your financial situation and determine if you are truly living within your means by utilising a budgeting app.

If you want a budgeting tool tailored to student life, the UCAS Budget Calculator is a good option. However, there are many more excellent and free websites and applications that can help you create a monthly budget that you can then use to track and analyse your spending.

2) Set a weekly budget

Set aside money each week for things like groceries, entertainment, reading, and shopping. Planning ahead by calculating how much money you have to spend each week can help you budget more effectively than trying to figure it out as you go along. 

3) Utilize student discounts

As a student, you’re in a unique position to be entitled to several student discounts. Use apps such as Unidays and Student Beans, which offer 10–20% off a wide range of brands such as Nike, Asos, Pizza Express, Boots, New Look, River Island, Domino's and so much more! Do not shy away from asking for a student discount on-site as well; many food chains and stores do offer their own personal student discount.

4) Save money while travelling

Sign up for a 16-25 Railcard. This can help you save hundreds of pounds as you travel through London. A 16-25 cardholder has the benefit of a 30% discount on rail tickets. An additional benefit for Londoners is that this discount is also applicable to off-peak tube fares. You can save an additional £5 by using your student discount when purchasing the railcard.

Another tip to pay less on travel costs is to avoid travelling during peak times. 

5) Shop smart

It is easy to get carried away while shopping for groceries, thinking you’ll have the time to cook and buy everything in one go. It is really important to check the shelf life of such products, as they go bad within a few days, wasting your investment and efforts. Plan your meals in advance and make sure you buy only what you need.

Buy perishable items such as fruits, vegetables, and dairy products weekly. For easy meal prep, buy frozen or canned vegetables, which have a longer shelf life and do not require any prepping.

If you're looking to save money on your grocery bill, consider shopping at a budget supermarket like Lidl, Aldi, or Asda, or buying store brand products from a larger chain. Buying store brand cereal and crisps is a great way to save tens of pounds monthly.

6) Avoid that to-go coffee

Caffeine is the new human fuel; the morning caffeine boost appears to be essential these days. As a student, this habit can drain a chunk of your income. So to quench your caffeine thirst, prepare your own coffee in the morning, which will cost you a quarter of the price of takeout coffee.

7) Start cooking

Avoid takeout meals, which can be unhealthy and heavy on your pocket. Prepare a weekly meal plan and try sticking to it. Even if it's a simple pasta dish or a wrap, it's best to cook it yourself. Cooking can be a fun and relaxing activity. Just play some music while preparing the food, it’ll definitely become an integral part of your chilling routine. And when in the mood to eat out, make use of apps like Too Good To Go and The Fork to avail great offers and discounts.

8) UCL’s Cost of Living Hub

To help students cope with the growing expense of living, UCL's Cost of Living Hub compiles the most up-to-date resources for UCL students. The site is meant to help students deal with the crisis by giving them financial help, advice, and direction.

The current cost of living crisis is taking a toll on everyone's lives. As students, it can be challenging to manage studies, daily chores, and part-time jobs while also facing financial constraints. We can definitely ride out this wave of inflation by making some trade-offs in our lifestyle and try to make the best of all the opportunities that are presented to us.