The Essential Guide to First Year Budgeting

By Lara from the University of Bath

Starting uni is scary enough, without the prospect of having to budget properly! However, over the course of my (short) first year in Bath, I learnt a few tips and tricks along the way to help my money go further:

1. Know how much money you’ll get – and when

Knowing when your maintenance loan will arrive and how much you’ll get (using the government student loan calculator), as well as any other income such as from a part time job, is really useful when it comes to working out your budget. It’s also helpful to know when any accommodation payments are due, so that they don’t take you by surprise!

2. Try using Monzo

When it comes to working out how much you have to spend, having a Monzo bank account can be really useful. Within the app, you can set up either a weekly or monthly budget and split it down into different categories such as groceries, travel and eating out. Every time you spend on your Monzo card, the app will put the payment into the correct category and let you know how much you have left.

3. Meal plans are your best friend

If, like me, your first year accommodation is self-catered, making a meal plan for the week can really help to save time and money. When it comes to doing your shop you know exactly what you need to buy, and it saves the internal debate of ‘what do I have for tea?’ every night – which definitely stopped me from getting takeaways!

4. Shop for food online

This is probably the thing that saved me the most money in first year. We would do an online shop in the flat (usually between 3-5 of us) every week or so, and if you’re flexible with delivery times, it can cost as little as £1.50 for a slot. When you’re adding things to your basket, seeing the total add up can be enough to make you think about what you really need (a 24 pack of Wotsits?) and it’s much easier to compare prices and see what’s on offer.

I hope these tips were helpful, and happy budgeting!

Lara x