A guide to budgeting for international students in the UK

Anna Varela·25 February 2024·5 min read
A guide to budgeting for international students in the UK

Budgeting might not be the most thrilling topic, but getting a handle on your finances can make a world of difference during your time studying in the UK.

Recent studies have highlighted the significant impact financial stress can have on students' mental well-being, with concerns about money often looming large. Whether it's worries about tuition fees, accommodation costs, or everyday expenses, learning how to effectively manage finances can make your university experience smoother and more enjoyable.

Worrying about money is normal, especially when you're far from home. But here's the thing: with a solid budget in place, you can ease some of that financial stress and focus on making the most of your university experience.

Getting to Know Your Money Situation

The first step in mastering your finances is knowing where you stand. Take the time to record all your regular monthly expenses, including rent, bills, groceries, and any subscriptions. You can find out how much accommodation costs on average by reading our blog here.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to factor in currency exchange rates if you receive funds from overseas.

On the income side, tally up any regular sources of money, whether it's parental contributions, earnings from a part-time job, or student loans. Subtract your expenses from your income to get a clear picture of your financial situation.

Crafting Your Budget

With your financial snapshot in hand, now comes the fun part: creating your budget! Think of it as your roadmap for managing your money. Look for areas where you can cut back a bit without sacrificing your happiness.

Consider adopting the 80/20 rule: allocate 80% of your budget to essential expenses like rent and groceries and reserve the remaining 20% for discretionary spending. Be honest with yourself about where you can cut back, whether it's dining out less frequently or opting for free or discounted entertainment options.

Making the Most of Student Perks

As an international student, you have access to a variety of resources and discounts that can help stretch your budget further.

Take advantage of student discounts offered by retailers and service providers and explore apps like Unidays and Student Beans for additional savings. When it comes to groceries, consider meal prepping and buying in bulk to save money over time. Remember, every little bit helps! You can check out our blog for some great tips on how to decorate your room on a budget.

And don't forget about the power of cooking at home – not only is it cheaper than dining out, but it can also be a fun and rewarding way to bond with friends.

Boosting Your Income (Without Burning Out)

While managing expenses is crucial, increasing your income can also help alleviate financial strain. Explore part-time job opportunities that fit around your university schedule, making sure to check your visa restrictions on working hours.

Many universities offer on-campus jobs that are flexible and well-suited to students' needs. Additionally, consider alternative sources of income, such as freelance work or tutoring services, to supplement your earnings.

Staying Mindful and Resourceful

Finally, cultivate a mindset of mindfulness and resourcefulness when it comes to your finances. Before making a purchase, ask yourself whether you truly need it, if it's worth the cost, and if you can find it cheaper elsewhere.

Embrace the challenge of finding creative solutions to common financial hurdles, whether it's borrowing books from the library instead of buying them or negotiating better deals on recurring expenses like gym memberships.

Final Thoughts

By taking a proactive approach to budgeting and financial management, you can enjoy a more secure and fulfilling university experience in the UK. Remember, mastering your finances isn't just about making ends meet – it's about empowering yourself to thrive in a new and exciting chapter of your life.

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