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University budget planning

Student Life

Starting a new course, meeting new people, finding your way around – there’s lots to think about when going to university. So, the last thing you need to worry about is money.

Learning how to budget and manage your money carefully is a lifelong skill that will stand you in good stead at university and beyond. Setting a budget and sticking to it will reduce any money worries you may have.

Here’s our top tips for making your cash stretch that little bit further:

Decide your budget

Working out how much money you’ll have to spend is crucial before you start university. Firstly, list all the income you have coming in. As well as the Student Maintenance Loan, this could include any scholarships, bursaries or grants, money from your parents or possibly a salary from a part-time job. Remember, you’ll receive the maintenance loan in three instalments, so you’ll need to budget this out across the year.

Work out your essential expenses next. Newcastle is an affordable and exciting place to be with the average monthly living cost for a student £750, compared to the UK average of £795 (National Student Money Survey 2020).

Your essential costs will include:

  • Accommodation – student accommodation at Northumbria ranges from £80 - £132 per week with bills such as wi-fi and electricity included. Most of the accommodation is within walking distance of the city centre campus, saving on travel costs.
  • Groceries
  • Transport
  • Course materials
  • Any bills – if they’re not already included in your accommodation cost such as gas, electricity, council tax etc.

Once you’ve added up how much your essential bills will be, take this figure away from your total income. What’s left is your budget to spend on non-essential things such as going out, takeaways and clothes.

Set yourself a weekly allowance and stick to it. Weekly budgeting is much easier to stay on top of and if you overspend one week, just cut back the following one.

Plan ahead

Thinking about the week ahead and planning what’s coming up can help avoid unnecessary expenses.

For example, meal planning makes your grocery shopping easier and can also help you eliminate impromptu and expensive takeaways.

Get to know the area you’re in or visiting so you can suss out public transport and avoid expensive taxi rides. In Newcastle you can get a four-week Nexus student travel pass costing £60.60 which allows you to travel on the bus, metro, ferry and rail.


Cutting down on your expenditure can help your money go further so recycle wherever possible.

You can get some great deals on secondhand text-books, household stuff or second-hand clothes – all at a fraction of the price of buying new.

Check out local charity shops and websites such as eBay and Depop to find the best bargains.

There are lots of online tools to help with budgeting including spreadsheets, mobile phone apps or student budgeting calculators. And if you need any extra support or advice, our student services team is always here to help.

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