Extreme budget and mental health: my university budgeting experience

Getting through university alone can be difficult, and that is without the pressure of rising living costs. Holly is going into her third year of university now and she is going to share her university budgeting experience with you in hopes that it will help you feel less overwhelmed.

Worried about your money? Understanding your money, how to budget, how to make more of your money and knowing what to do if things are going wrong are essential skills for life. Here are links and guides to help keep your finances on track.

When it came to food shops I had to learn how to budget on £100 a month!

I started university during COVID times, so my first year was fairly unusual to say the least. However, due to the lack of socialising, it did mean spending a lot less money on things such as social events or traveling home. Nevertheless, money was still a struggle. When it came to food shops, due to being unable to find a job at university, I had to learn how to budget on £100 a month! I would say £100 a month is a very low budget, so if you can, don’t limit yourself to as low as £100.

  1. Student deals

Some things that helped me budget were student deals from apps such as Unidays or Student Beans, getting Clubcards or More Cards for the shops where I was shopping for my food , selling old items of clothes and using a budget book. These were all little things that I could do to reduce the struggle, but the little things do add up!

The Plus Programme helped with it came to funding societies.

2. Plus Programme

I am also a Plus Programme student, so that helped when it came to funding societies. They provide a fund which can help you pay for memberships and equipment, so it is well worth looking into as it can make a big difference!

3. Surveys

Another random way of earning money is through the surveys that you may see in your university email inbox. I once filled out a survey for an email (it probably took me about 5 minutes) and I received a £300 gift voucher! It is always worth a try!

When it came to my second year of university, I was lucky enough to find a job at the University of Leeds Libraries. I took the time to scrub up my CV and apply to loads of jobs. If you are able to secure a part time job at university, it is definitely worth it to help out with finances! It is worth checking at the Student Union on their website or using JobLink, which is located at LUU, to help find a job.

Why not pop into local cafes, restaurants or bars to see if they are hiring. Joining Facebook groups, such as Leeds Student Group, is great for finding a job as employers are regularly posting on there. Finally, obvious websites such as Total Jobs or Indeed are great too!

I was lucky enough to find a job at the University of Leeds Libraries (Bortherton Library)

One piece of advice with this though is to not push yourself too hard. Having a little more money in the bank is very helpful, especially if you are struggling, but not at the sacrifice of your mental health. If you can, don’t overwork yourself. University is a big enough task in itself, let alone with multiple hours of work.

I work 18 hours a week and that is more than enough. From these hours, I earn enough to live comfortably in my situation. I live in a house share, so I pay a bit of my rent with my wages (most of my rent is covered by my maintenance loan), my house bills, phone bills, Netflix and Amazon Prime bills, car insurance and petrol and food bills. After this, I have enough to not worry about saying no to social events, for example, because of money.

If you can, I would definitely encourage working a few less hours than me as it can be tough alongside a degree, especially if you have a demanding job (e.g. working in a bar). You may have a higher loan, or not have a car or petrol to pay for, so make sure you take that into account when comparing what I spend or what others spend. Just do what you can to budget, be sensible with your money and use all extra resources available to help you out!

Written by Holly Philips, Law LLB Student



Sharing news and research from the University of Leeds.

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