Balancing your budget

A budget contains details of the income you’re expecting to get and what you expect to spend within a specified period of time. There are plenty of online tools that can help you plan your budget, here are a few, but there are loads out there, including some apps.  

  • Money Advice Service -
    A comprehensive online budgeting tool, with guidance, that you can save and return to later.  
  • National Debtline -
    Similar to Money Advice Service but the National Debtline tool gives you the option to print a budget out and fill in if you prefer. 

  • The Money Charity - The Student Money Manual
    The Student Money Manual is a beginner’s guide to looking after your money at university and includes interactive exercises to build a budget.

Budgeting tools can then help you to see if this income will be enough to cover your spending. If you find that you’re overspending, then you can try to adjust your plans to resolve this at an early stage. Here are a few suggestions:  

  • Research other sources of income for your studies, including part-time jobs around campus. 
  • Cut down on unnecessary spending.  
  • Put a plan in place to manage debts.  

Working out your sources of income will help, especially when things are coming in here and there. Although you might get a weekly income from your part-time job, student finance or scholarship/stipend payments termly or monthly, your bills won’t necessarily have the same schedule. They may be monthly or quarterly and you might also have weekly outgoing costs.  

Having a budget can help you to come up with a spending figure that suits how you want to budget, either on a weekly, monthly or termly basis. This’ll help you manage your spending by encouraging you to set aside money to cover less frequent costs, whilst giving you a specific amount to spend on other things you buy on a more regular, weekly basis. 

As there is little emergency support available, planning can be very important in avoiding problems. If you do find yourself in hardship, there is some hardship funding available.

Managing your income

It’s a good idea to know your income - there might be something you’re missing out on like benefits, bursaries, allowances and other things you might qualify for. If there is, it’ll help add an extra source of income.  

Tips for increasing your income: 

Your spending

Mapping out your spending is a good place to start. This will allow you to budget and cut down, if necessary. Remember outgoing costs may differ during term time and holidays. All those unexpected costs, irregular costs and lifestyle costs add up so it’s good to budget from the beginning.  

Tips for managing your spending: 

  • Set aside enough money to cover essential and often fixed costs, such as rent and utility bills. 
  • Having a separate account where you keep money for fixed costs can help make sure you have enough money for rent and bills. More flexible things like grocery, social activities and clothing can be kept in another account. It can help to transfer enough money from your income into your fixed costs account when you get it so you’re sure to be covered for rents and bills.  
  • Check your online banking, mobile banking app or bank statements regularly so no spending is missed. 
  • It can help to write down all your payment due dates to help you with budgeting and to identify any problems you may have in covering costs. 
  • Make sure you give your supplier regular meter readings for your gas, electricity and water (if applicable). 
    Check if you need insurance for your valuable possessions and shop around for a good deal. There are many price comparison sites online so have a look before committing to a certain insurance package.  
  • Take advantage of student discounts where possible.  
  • UCL have useful information on how much it costs to be a student at UCL:
  • The Union has some money saving ideas:  
  • Have a look at UCL’s money-saving tips for students: 
  • Citizens Advice have more ways to reduce your bills:    

In debt?

A good place to start is by sorting out your priority and non-priority debts. Have a look here for more help on what to do when you are in debt.