Budgeting Tips

Budgeting Tips

Explore our top tips to help you stay on budget, without losing your sanity!

Get Savvy

Try to increase your income:

  • Check to make sure that you are getting the full amount of student loan or grant that you are entitled to. Most full-time students are unable to claim social security benefits, but if you have dependent children or have a disability you may be entitled to some additional financial support. Get in touch. Debbie, your Money Management Adviser can help
  • Get a part-time job and work full-time over the holiday breaks. Beware - it is important not to over commit yourself

Manage your Money - Accommodation

Accommodation may be your largest expense. Here are a few tips when you are planning how to pay for your accommodation:

  • If you live in halls, pay each term’s rent as soon as you receive your loan or grant
  • If you live in private accommodation you could:
  • Pay each term’s rent as soon as you get your loan
  • Set aside this amount into another bank account so that you know that you can’t touch it
  • Set aside enough money to pay your fixed costs. These might include:
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Heating
  • Electricity
  • Course fees

Manage your Money - Bills

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you're planning on paying your bills:

  • Spread the cost of your bills over the year by paying by monthly direct debit. Sometimes, you can even get a discount for paying by direct debit. Quarterly bills are often higher than anticipated and can be difficult to pay
  • Don’t forget to cancel your direct debits when you close your account
  • Pay your big bills in advance or put the money aside in a separate account. This means you’ll know you have enough money set aside to cover it and also how much you have left to spend
  • If you share a house with other students, set up a ‘house fund’ to make sure there is always enough money to pay the utility bills
  • If you receive estimated utility bills, take a meter reading and ask your supplier for a revised bill. This will ensure that you don’t under or over pay through the year

Manage your Money - Shopping

Here are a few tips for when you plan your shopping budget:

  • Make a list and stick to it. This will help you avoid buying items on impulse
  • Plan a weekly menu and cook with housemates or friends to share costs
  • Never, ever shop when you are hungry
  • A weekly shop is much more economical than lots of little trips
  • Look out for discount shelves or items in the reduced section. The evening is a good time to pick up reduced goods
  • Try supermarket own brand labels – they may taste just as good and be much cheaper than branded goods
  • Take advantage of special offers for items you would normally buy. For example, buy one get one free or three for two offers
  • Avoid ready prepared meals and expensive takeaways as these are quite expensive
  • Check out local markets for cheap fresh fruit, vegetables and meat. St. Georges Market is open on Fridays and Saturdays
  • Buy the fruit and vegetables which are in season, they will always be cheaper. You can find out what is in season right here
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables that require a little scrub and chopping will be much cheaper than prepared items
  • Small local convenience stores are often dearer than the large supermarket chains. Try to avoid doing your main weekly shop in these
  • Some supermarket chains will deliver, and while there will be a charge for this it may be no more than your bus or taxi fare (less if you split with your housemates). It will allow you to stock up on certain items and prevent impulse buys
  • Check out the unit price for items on the supermarket shelf price tag. For example, when buying washing powder this will show the price per kg of different brands of washing powder. You can then compare these to get the best value for money
  • Bring a packed lunch rather than buying one every day

Shop Rules

  • Try not to request cashback in stores as it can make you lose track of your spending. Instead withdraw the amount of cash you have to play with at the start of the week and keep to it
  • Ask yourself the following questions before heading to the till: ‘Do I need it?’, ‘Can I afford it?’, and ‘Have I checked if it's cheaper elsewhere?’
  • Keep your receipts and check them against your bank statement every month. Banks can and do make mistakes

Shop Around

  • Always shop around, especially for things like mobile phones, insurance, internet and satellite packages and gym membership. It pays to search for a good deal
  • There are cheaper tariffs out there for both gas and electricity. Check out the Consumer Council for all the information you need
  • If you are not happy with your energy bills or think you have been over charged, call your supplier to complain. If they don't help you or they do not resolve it to your satisfaction the Consumer Council can help.
  • Apply for help with your prescription, optical and dental costs by filling in an HC1 form available from the Social Security Agency or Citizens Advice
  • Check for student discounts when shopping and travelling. Ask about student discount even if it is not advertised. You don’t ask - you don’t get
  • Don’t forget to award yourself a small token treat if you have 

If you would like a bit more help or information about managing your money, get in touch. Debbie, your Money Management Adviser is here and happy to help!

email icon studentadvice@qub.ac.uk
address icon Ground Floor
Students' Union
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Email to book an appointment or pop in during our drop-in sessions:

Mon: 2pm - 4.30pm
Wed: 2pm - 4.30pm
Fri: 9.30am - 12.00pm