Beat the Budget: Belfast Edition
Here is the low down of how much it costs to live in Belfast as a student and some tips for how to manage your money.
The tips and tricks…
Money, money, money!
My tip would be, whether you get a loan, money off parents or elsewhere, it probably needs to last the WHOLE year. Not just while you’re at university, but the summer too. As I didn’t know if I’d have a summer job, I knew my student loan would need to support me through the summer too.
So, I deducted my accommodation for the year and divided the rest by 12 (September-September) and was left with my monthly budget.
Consider the cost of accommodation for the year
Don’t lose track
This doesn’t need to be a crazy complex spreadsheet. Even just an app on your phone- there are plenty like Emma and Moneyhub. This allows you to put spendings in categories so at least you have a rough idea of what you are spending your money on.
It is easy to find templates online or google sheets and excel to input your numbers. For example, these are some categories on my spreadsheet from this year.
Categorise your spending habits
There can be even less categories than these, I just find it interesting to see where my money goes. For example, I have a separate category for ‘drinking out non-alc’ to see how much I spend on coffee and hot chocolate! If you have something you can’t stop buying, then it could be fun to see how much it costs you. (Or maybe you’d rather not know!)
Consider how much you're spending on coffee each day!
Be prepared to maybe go over budget occasionally. When your student loan comes in for the first time in September, it is very exciting to see a lot more than usual. Expect to spend more in the first couple of months, especially with freshers and going out exploring the city. You can reign it back in later in the year.
So how much does it cost to live in Belfast?
It is labelled one of the cheapest UK cities to live in. But also, that all comes down to how much you buy as an individual. Here is a breakdown of some categories from this year (average monthly cost from the last 6 months):
Public transport: £15.78
This all depends on how often you get the bus and if you take any transport to go on day trips. Belfast is a very walkable city. But if you do feel like getting the bus, make sure you get a yLink card at the start of the year to get discounted tickets. A bus ride can be as little as £0.90!
Belfast Bikes are another cheap transport option!
Again, this depends on how much you eat and what you put in your basket and where you shop. This is probably on the lower side as certain months include holidays where I went home so I didn’t need to buy groceries.
Look out for the best deals and offers in supermarkets
This is my ‘I fancy chocolate, I’m going to nip to Spar’ category or for takeaways with friends. If you have stronger willpower, it will probably be lower than mine…
Keep an eye on how much you're spending on takeaways
Entertainment subscriptions: £5.99
These are the recurring things you pay monthly. I just have Spotify student. This figure can be a lot higher if you have Netflix and Disney Plus etc.
So, I lived in Elms BT9, and a wash was £3.10. I saved money by buying an airer instead of paying another £2 to dry my clothes. Depending on how many clothes you still have left to wear in the meantime depends on the monthly cost.
Be smart with your laundry
Overall monthly cost: £372.85
This is my average per month (not including accommodation). From eating out to coffee, to drinking out, food, groceries, transport, laundry, the odd clothing, subscriptions, general purchases, and phone bill.
These are my budget tips and tricks and an insight into genuine student spending. Like I said, it depends how much you like to go out and what you do and where you choose to spend your money. Some people prefer clubbing and going out, while others prefer a meal or to do an activity.
Don’t lose track and spend more than you have. Try to stick within your monthly budget!
Find out more
French and International Relations| Undergraduate Student | England
I am a first year French and International Relations student from Nottingham, England. I currently live in Elms BT9.
I am a member of the French society and a course rep for French. I also take part in weekly classes at the language centre. In my free time you'll probably find me drinking hot chocolate in various cafés with friends!