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The ultimate student budget planner

Being a student is fun, enriching and very expensive. Here's a full list of what you'll have to pay for, as well as a handy tool that will calculate the cost of going to different UK universities based on the cost of studying, plus the cost of living in each location.

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Leaving home and having the best time of your life for three or more years comes at a price, which is why it's important to learn how to budget as a student.

Be it creating a weekly student food budget, or student budget spreadsheet for nights out, if you don't set yourself a student budget you will soon see your savings dwindle away and your debts start to pile up.

Our checklist includes all the costs you could face during your studies, with some handy links so you can work out how much you need to budget for each.

Personal checklist

Updated 31 May 2023
Personal ChecklistEntertainment checklistFinancial checklist Transport checklist
GroceriesAlcohol on a night outRentBus pass
Gifts for family & friendsPub & nightclub entrance feesBank accountTrain tickets
Alcohol at homeTakeawaysMobile phonetube pass
ClothesEating outGadget insuranceTaxis
HaircutsConcerts, festivals & sports eventsInternetCar running costs
Washing & laundry costsMusic, games, & streamingCar insuranceParking permits
Toiletries & cosmeticsBooks & stationaryContents insuranceCycling accessories
KitchenwareGym membershipTV licence
Recreational clubsElectricity
Updated 20 April 2023
£Gifts for family & friends
£Alcohol at home
£Washing & laundry costs
£Toiletries & cosmetics

Entertainment checklist

Updated 20 April 2023
£Alcohol on a night out
£Pub & nightclub entrance fees
£Eating out
£Concerts, festivals & sports events
£Music, games, & streaming
£Books & stationary
£Gym membership
£Recreational clubs

Financial checklist

Updated 20 April 2023
£Bank account
£Mobile phone
£Gadget insurance
£Car insurance
£Contents insurance
£TV licence

Transport checklist

Updated 20 April 2023
£Bus pass
£Train tickets
£Tube pass
£Car running costs
£Parking permits
£Cycling accessories

Which are the cheapest and most expensive universities to attend in the UK?

If you're making a decision on which university to attend, and are on a strict student budget, then it's worth keeping in mind that some places are cheaper to live and study than others.

Money.co.uk have created a tool so you can easily calculate the cost of going to different UK universities based on the cost of studying plus the cost of living in each location.

How can you afford the student life?

If you want to live the university lifestyle to its maximum you need to consider where the money is coming from to fund your nights out and your day-to-day expenses.

Here are your funding options:

Your student loan gives you large sums at the start of each semester. The trick is not to blow all the money on the first few weekends or you will be in real trouble for the remainder of the semester.

If you have relatives who can help with your finances then this can be the cheapest alternative to funding your university lifestyle as you can avoid paying any interest, and if you are lucky you may never need to pay the money back.

For more information on student budgeting read our Ultimate Student Finance Guide For Freshers.

Try a test run

Try living the life of a student a few weeks before heading off. Give yourself a realistic budget, head down to the shops and buy yourself a week's worth of food. If it comes to more than you thought, just have a few less pints at the pub until you can find cheaper groceries.

Getting a budget right first time isn't easy, so play around with what is important to you on a day-by-day basis and make sure you shop around for the best deals and compare prices in all aspects of your university life.

New bank accounts are offered all the time, so compare all of the best options to make sure you get the right one for you.

About James Andrews

James has spent the past 15 years writing and editing personal finance news, specialising in consumer rights, pensions, insurance, property and investments - picking up a series of awards for his journalism along the way.

View James Andrews's full biography here or visit the money.co.uk press centre for our latest news.