Where does all my money go?

Know what your income is

Find out what financial support is available to you whilst you're studying.

Know what your regular expenditure is

i.e. what you pay on rent, bills, food, leisure, etc.  

If you're not sure what this is or you want an accurate picture, check your bank statements, bills and receipts. Also, you might find it helpful to keep a spending diary for a couple of weeks. This is really simple and just involves jotting down in a notebook everything you spend each day and then looking back on it to see where your money is going. Alternatively, check out Credit Action's Spendometer tool. You can download this onto your mobile and it's a handy way to find out what you're spending money on.

Put all of this information about your income and expenditure on our electronic budget planner

To try and keep a track of where all your money is going, download and use our Personal Budget Planner which will calculate your income and expenditure for each week of the year and let you know whether you are over or under budget. It will help you to keep on track and to make sense of all the numbers!

Increase Income and Reduce Expenditure

If there isn't enough income to cover your expenditure, think about whether there are any ways in which you can increase your income or reduce your expenditure.

Pay the priorities first

Make sure you pay priority expenditure such as rent and bills so that you don't fall behind with these. This can be difficult for students as they normally get paid only once per term. So why not set your finances up in such a way that it makes it automatically easy for you to pay priorities. For example, at the start of each term when you receive your student loan:

  • pay your rent
  • transfer the rest of your money into a savings account so that it will earn some interest (however small in the current economic climate) as it can be very tempting to spend your student loan instalment very quickly if you keep it all in the same account! If you are employed, have your wages transferred into this savings account as well.
  • After working out how much money you'll need to leave in the savings account for bills, use internet banking to transfer money across each week that you've budgeted for food, travel costs to Uni and course costs.
  • If using your chip and pin card to buy everything is meaning that you find it easier to spend money, decide to operate in cash by going to the cash point only once a week, withdrawing what you need for food, travel and course costs and making this last until the following week.

Set limits on your non-priority expenditure.

Not many people have an infinite amount of money! We all have to make choices about what we are able to spend, decisions about what are priorities and distinguish between wants and needs.  The easy credit, consumerism and advertising of the past 10 years has made us all think that it's possible to have anything we want when we want it.  For  the majority of us who aren't millionaires,  this isn't the case unless we take out a lot of  debt to finance this.

There are loads of tips from other students to help you spend less.

Devise a method for keeping track of your income and expenditure.

This doesn't have to be complicated. It could involve writing down what you've spend in a notebook or keeping receipts or checking bank statements. Then decide to take 20 minutes per week to review your income and expenditure for that week so that you'll spot if there are any problems developing.  

Write down your goals in life and how you want your finances to look.

As the saying goes, it you don't know where you want to be, you won't know how to get there! For many people, their spending is dictated by their subconscious  beliefs and attitudes about money because they have never actually thought about their goals for their money.  So they have no plan and money is frittered away on nothing. Once you know where you want to be, every spending choice then becomes about whether this takes you nearer to or further away from your goals. Having a goal will help you to control your money rather than it controlling you.

Don't let things get in your way

Write down the things that will help and hinder you keeping to the above. Avoid the things that will hinder you and maximise on the things you know will help you.

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