Blog post

Top tips for budgeting at university

After three years as a BA Journalism student at the University of Derby, I have experienced the ups and downs when it comes to managing your money, which can be difficult during your studies. Here are some tips about budgeting that I wish I had known before my first year.  

By Kyle Lynch - 24 November 2022

Budgeting can be difficult and once your maintenance loan arrives, this can feel overwhelming. You suddenly have a range of different expenses, and it can be hard to keep track all of them. Therefore, it’s important to learn how to manage your money to ensure your bank account stays looking healthy.

Weekly Budget

Having a weekly budget is important, but it can be tricky to create one. You first need to work out how much money you have to spend during a term at university. This should include every possible source of money. This could consist of your maintenance loan, income from a job, money from carers etc.

You then need to work out your expenses. This is simply looking at what you’re spending your money on each term. It is easier if you split this up into categories, such as rent, bills, groceries, memberships, transport, and social activities like nights out.

Once you have worked both these numbers out, this is where the maths comes in. Minus your expenses from your total income throughout the term, and then divide this by the number of weeks in a term. This should give you an estimate of what you should spend each week to better organise your money.


If you are still struggling after creating a weekly budget, a last resort option could be to get a student overdraft through a student bank account. This is where the bank allows extra money to what you already have in your account. This will be up to a set amount, and you’ll be required to pay it back at some point in the future. An overdraft is beneficial for times when you need a little extra money to get you through the week before your income comes in. Student overdrafts also come with a 0% interest fee, which makes it less likely that you’ll have to pay off unnecessary costs.

Remember to be sensible with your overdraft if you do opt in for one, by ensuring you pay the money back when required. Find out more about overdrafts.


Having a part-time job alongside your studies can be a great idea.  Maintenance loans can vary which means part time work is often crucial for you to manage your money. Part-time jobs can be found through websites such as Indeed and the University Careers and Employment Service. You may find that you do not have enough time to work alongside your studies due to high workloads. University can become stressful, and you don’t want to put more pressure on yourself if you don’t think you’ll manage. Getting a holiday job instead may be a better option. This would mean you work during holidays so that you can top up your money before you head back to university.

Student discounts

It’s something that is easy to forget while you’re at university, but as a student you are entitled to a huge range of discounts. Although some may seem small, they always add up! Apps such as UniDays and Student Beans have a big list of discounts for your favourite brands, which are ready to use once you sign up. Always check them before purchasing something.

Even if you are unsure, you should always inquire about student discounts when purchasing something in person, no matter where you are. You may surprise yourself and reap the rewards.

Selling items

Selling unused items is a great way of creating another stream of income. For example, apps such as Depop and Vinted are great places to sell clothes that you no longer wear. If you are a hoarder, this could be a perfect option and it could even become a hobby!

eBay is also one of the main places to sell unused items. You can put practically anything on here that you think people may be interested in.  Simply create an account and begin selling!

Student nights

If you are someone who enjoys going out to nightclubs and bars, be mindful of how much you spend. Before going to university, you were probably used to the weekend being the prime time to venture out, but this is not the case for student nights.  Find out what days the student nights are in the city, as these are the places that will have great offers.

If the nightlife isn’t your scene, there are lots of other options. You may prefer a relaxed meal with friends. Most restaurants will have selected days when they have special offers on food, which you should take advantage of as a student.

Making food

When going to a lecture or seminar, it can be tempting to buy a meal on your break. Although there are delicious offers, this can add up and cause you to be low on money. Instead, you could buy cheap ingredients and make your own lunch before attending classes This could save you a lot of money in the long run!

If you are struggling with money issues, there’s information on the UDo Money tile. You can contact the SMART team for help and advice or speak to your College Student Centre.

About the author

Kyle Lynch

Kyle Lynch
Corporate Communications Placement

I recently graduated from the University of Derby with a degree in Journalism and now work in the Marketing and Communications department here. I got the role as a Corporate Communications Placement at the end of July 2022. My main interests would be football and travelling, but I am also passionate about writing.