Tips on how to budget as a university student

Zahra Mustansir


No one is born knowing how to budget; it is a skill you can learn like any other. So, if you're lost and unsure of how to build a budget for yourself, you're not alone! Fortunately, we're here to help. 

 Here are four tips on how to build a student-friendly budget:

1. Make a realistic budget

A budget that isn’t too lenient or constricting is an excellent way to go. When considering things to include in your budget, be realistic about your expenses. If you frequently visit Starbucks, Tim Hortons or The Hive, put that in there!

@otfuturestudent The perfect place to study and sip on some coffee ☕️ #universitycampus #cafe #ontariouniversity ♬ _Cute - Gabe Lost

However, don't allow too many non-essential expenses to work their way in there. While ordering out and online shopping are undoubtedly enjoyable, ensure you're not allowing them to overtake your budget. 

2. Budget to zero

What does this mean? Determine your expected monthly income, then total all your fixed expenses (rent, utility bills, grocery, etc.) and expected expenses (coffee, entertainment, shopping, etc.). This puts a name to every dollar. If money is left over, you can put it toward your savings. 

calculator and expense sheet on table

You can also go the other way and start with a monthly savings goal and divide the remainder of your income between your bills and expenses.

3. Track your expenses

Though this one can be tedious, it is a great way to stay on budget. If you track every purchase, you can ensure you are staying within your allotted budget for that element—this way, you know just how many more coffees you can buy for the month without going over budget.

girl typing on phone

It’s easy to lose track of 30 days of purchases, so it's better to track them as you make them. 

4. Save up for big purchases

A big purchase can offset your budget, leaving you with hardly any extra bucks. A good tip is to leave aside a few dollars every month for your intended purchase, rather than buying it in one go. 

Ontario Tech has created a budget calculator so you can create a realistic budget that includes the cost of your education. There are also budgeting apps that you can download on your phone to make it easier. 

Also, check out some extra money-saving perks to help you add more to the piggy bank. 

Having a good budget can help ease some of your stress while at university. Hopefully this helps give you a starting point on building your own. 

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