Managing your budget

27 September 2021

How to manage your student budget

It’s often said that your student days are the best of your life. Graduating is the end goal, but of course you want to have fun in the meantime. Proper budgeting of your finances will ensure you don’t have to miss any of the fun. Here’s how to get going.

Going to the cinema, on nights out and doing your hobbies: it all costs money. Then there’s also books, your student accommodation and food shopping. Budgeting your finances as a student ensures that you don’t inadvertently end up in the red without skimping on any of the fun.

Start by listing your expenses…

Data equals knowledge! It’s important to know how much you spend in a month and how much money comes in. If you repeat that exercise a few months in a row, it will give you a good idea of your average monthly expenses. 

In practice, you should divide your expenses into three categories. Only list the things that have to come out of your own student budget:

  • Your income. This includes wages from your student job as well as any pocket money you get from your parents. It may also include your academic scholarship.
  • Your basic expenses. This includes recurrent monthly expenses like your rent and phone subscription, but also what you spend on food and drink. Your academic registration fees and books also go in this category. And don’t forget to set a monthly savings goal and put that amount aside at the start of each month.
  • The extras. Things like going to the cinema, going out for dinner or joining your student association’s skiing trip. These are things you can skimp on when things get tight at the end of the month.

Tip:

It’s easy to check your income and expenses in the last months via the ING Banking app. And you can check the balance on your ING Lion Account current account whenever and wherever you want.

…then determine your budget

A piece of paper or an Excel file is the easiest budget planner. But there are also plenty of handy free budgeting apps to help you budget on your smartphone. The Wikifin online budgeting tool is worth a try if you want to learn how to handle money. This budget calculator is an initiative by the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA). Another tip: immediately make up your student budget for the entire academic year at the start.

Extra tips for saving on your student budget

1. Double-check if you are eligible for a scholarship. You can do so on the Flemish government website or the Wallonia-Brussels Federation website, depending on where you study.

2. Assess your subscriptions. Have you stopped going to the gym? Do you only occasionally read the newspaper? Cancel your subscriptions to save money. The free feature ING OneView in the ING Banking app lets you do so in a few simple taps, with no admin.

3. Compare prices online. Especially when you are about to impulse buy or make a bigger purchase. A competitor might offer your desired item at a cheaper price. 

4. Keep an eye on the balance of your student bank account. With the ING Banking app, you don’t even have to think about that yourself. Once set up you will get a push notification as soon as your balance drops below a certain level, or when your student money arrives.

5. Buy second hand. From course books to clothing: the options are endless. And you can sell the things you don’t need anymore.

6. Bag discounts. Your student card will come in handy for this. There are also dedicated student prices for bus, train and metro. And you can get cashback discounts with ING+ deals.

7. Find a fun part time job. Do make sure it’s easy to combine with your studies. We have created a separate article on frequently asked questions around student jobs.

This is the time to do what moves you