Budgeting can be hard, especially if this is your first time away from home managing your money, but if you are careful you can keep on top of your finances and stay out of the red. The information below should help you to think about where your money comes from and where it goes, but if you would like help to plan your budget please contact us, our advisers can sit down with you and help you go through your plans.
You may receive money from different sources so make sure you know how much you are getting from each source and when it comes in. Maintenance loans and grants from Student Finance England are paid termly, and the dates may vary each year because of the timing of Easter. University of Portsmouth bursaries are paid in three instalments; December, February and May.
If you need to look at boosting your income, have you considered working part-time? There are many job opportunities for students in Portsmouth. The local town and shopping district already employ a number of our students and the Careers and Employability Service are always on hand to help students find a job.
The chances are that your biggest cost will be housing, whether you’re in halls or a rented house. Make sure you know exactly how much your rent is, and when it’s due. Are you paying termly or monthly? Have you set up a direct debit or do you need to remember to pay each time?
The average costs of utilities depends on how much you use and which utilities you pay for. Some privately rented properties include bills within the monthly rent, and halls of residence include bills in their pricing.
For a rental property, bills average at around £20 - £30 per person per week, however this depends on how much electricity you use and how often you have the heating on, so be smart with what you use.
Don’t forget about things like broadband, a phone line if you have one, water bills and a TV license.
It‘s much, much cheaper to go out once a week or so to a big supermarket and do a big shop rather than going to the local shops or corner shops and getting little things here and there, or even worse, takeaways. Why not join up with your housemates and do an online shop to save any travel costs?
Making lunch at home to bring into uni will also save you money, even at £3 a day, buying lunch out can really add up. Invest in a travel coffee mug too so you can make hot drinks at home rather than splash out every day.
Books and Supplies
You course will require you to purchase certain textbooks and supplies. Factor these in when making your budget. When buying books, it is worth bearing in mind that many books can be found online and in bookstores second hand and at a cheaper price. Ask students in the year above you if they have last year’s copies for sale.
Budget for having fun and socialising with friends, it’s an important part of being at university. But try not to feel pressured into going out and doing something when you’re tight on money. You might find that your friends are in the same boat anyway, they might prefer a cheaper night in too!
When you are going out, try to leave your card at home. Instead withdraw cash and take that with you, this avoids you going over budget and spending more than you intended to. But always make sure you have a way to get home safely.
If you live in rented accommodation or halls it is very unlikely that you will need to spend too much on travel. Most students cycle and walk to campus or use the free University bus service. When travelling by train remember you can get a 16-25 railcard which entitles you to a third off of rail prices.
Keeping in touch with friends and family at university is important, make sure you are on the right phone plan for you, check with your phone company that you are making use of all the minutes, texts and data you have. If you aren’t using it all, it might be worth changing your contract to a cheaper monthly rate.
Make sure you keep some money aside for emergencies such as medical and dental costs. If you need help with your prescription costs, you can apply to pay reduced costs as you are on a low income, ask for an HC1 form from your doctors to apply under the NHS Low Income Scheme.