Student Budgeting: How to Make Your Allowance Last

Student Budgeting: How to Make Your Allowance Last

As a student living alone, one of the most challenging tasks (aside from getting good grades, of course) of being a university student is how to budget his/her monthly allowance. It is a common sight to see university students indulge in pleasures during the first few days of the month and continue the rest of the month living off of what little is left of their monthly allowance after the first week of the month.

This is an example of poor budgeting amongst students and can lead to trouble with finances later on in life if this issue is not handled properly. Wouldn’t you want to live the whole month not worrying about whether your allowance will last you the month rather than constantly praying for the arrival of the first day of the next month to arrive just so you can replenish your resources?

If you plan out how you spend your monthly allowance properly and do things which might save you a few bucks, then you would not have to worry about when you will receive your next batch of university pocket money. Knowing how to budget your monthly expenses also enables you to feel more responsible and gives you a sense of independence, something you must learn if you plan on living by yourself when you graduate from college and get a job.

If you want to become ready for your future life of independence and freedom, or you simply want to last the month without having to constantly check your wallet if you can afford your next lunch, whatever the reason may be, we are here to give you a few pointers on how to budget your allowance to last you a whole month.

Know how much you have

To win a war, you must first determine what you and your troops can and cannot do. This also applies on how to budget your monthly allowance as well. Determine how much you will get from your parents or benefactor, before you can do any budgeting. By knowing how much you get each month, you can start to estimate how much cash will be left after you rule out basic necessities, what luxuries you can and cannot afford, and how much will be left of your allowance after a whole month (if there will be any).

You cannot make a budget for yourself which will cost you around $500 to $700 per month when you only receive $400 monthly, as you would only be running out of cash by the 3rd week. By determining how much you receive every month, you can adjust you spending with accordance to your monthly allowance. You can determine which shampoo to buy or what brand of coffee you can afford by just simply knowing how much you receive every month.

Rule out your living expenses

However, there are a few things you in your budget that you cannot compromise, such as living expenses. These refer to your rent, electricity and water bills, and communication bills. If the apartment or dormitory you are living in already has electricity and water covered along with the rent, then you can group them as just one living expense. Phone bills can be altered by choosing a cheaper plan if your provider has options for cheaper plans.

Your budget for living expenses remain the same all throughout your university life, if you choose the same house to rent and communication plan for the next four years. This is the reason why living expenses need to be deducted immediately after you receive you monthly allowance as there is no bargaining from your network providers and landlords. 

Make a budget plan

Now that you have determined what your true budget for the month is after you have deducted living expenses, you can then proceed to make a budget plan. If what is left of your $400 monthly allowance after deducting living expenses was $250 then you can divide them into food, hygiene, transportation, and miscellaneous.

If you plan on coking your own food, then $100 on food is enough if you know how to meal prep and buy in bulk. This is cheaper than going out to your local fast food or restaurant chain as fresh ingredients cost less than ready-made meals served in fast foods and restaurants which could range from $3 to $25 dollars if you want the fancy dining experience.  

Next is hygiene which you can come by every month with $40 dollars. You can buy shampoo and soap refills which cost significantly less than buying bottled ones (that is if you already have an empty bottle of shampoo and soap with you). Your toothbrush and toothpaste cost less than soap and shampoo so it should still be within the budget, and toiletries can often be surprisingly cheap.

Transportation costs come next. If you somehow rent an apartment or a dormitory near your university, then you can opt to just walk your way towards your university as it can help you save money while also give you an early morning exercise. However, if you live somewhere considerably far from your university, then about $80 should be enough to cover your transportation fees for a month.

The last one in your budget should be miscellaneous expenses. Things you buy such as medicine, vitamins, or your new bag. The budget allocated for these expenses should depend on how much you have left of your monthly budget. In our hypothetical situation, you have $30 to spend for miscellaneous expenses as that is what remains of your budget.

Note that you rarely have enough for luxuries as our hypothetical situation limits us with only $250 to spend. If the situation changes and you have $500 per month then the budget plan would also change.

Students should also note the 50-30-20 rule wherein necessities take up 50% of the allowance, 30% for wants and the remaining 20% for savings. This rule also works well even outside the university.

Source: Mint

Make your own meals

One of the ways you can reduce your spending on food so that you might have extra for other expenses is to cook your own meals. And if you do not know how to meal prep you can always learn from our previous article here.

By cooking your own meals, you can buy ingredients in bulk which can save you a ton of cash and also make you a capable home-cook. Not only will you not be spending $3-$25 per meal, but you also have the option to make your meals healthier and closer to your parent’s home cooking.

Carry a water bottle

If you plan on lasting the whole month with your allocated allowance, one extra pointer you should follow is to always bring a water bottle with you whenever you go to school or go out with your friends. Water can be relatively cheap and often be overlooked when budgeting but the amount you save per month just by carrying your own water bottle and not buy PET bottles can really surprise you. A person needs constant hydration and that is what bringing a water bottle with you provides: constant and free hydration.

Be wary of your dining expenses

If you haven’t already noticed, dining outside is bad for your budget if you plan on lasting a whole month with a limited allowance. While it is important to occasionally indulge in the pleasures of modern day living, it is also important to lay back on those things a little if you have any plans on lasting a whole month. You can have a weekly visit to your favorite fast-food chain, or a monthly visit to that fancy family restaurant, but any more than these and you might experience and even tighter budget than if you just ate inside and passed on that happy meal.

Get a part-time job

If you feel that what your parents give you every month is still not enough even after trying to budget your allowance to the best of your abilities, then it may be the right time to get a part-time job. If you don’t really have a tight schedule and have a lot of free time with your course, then you can opt to find a part-time job. Not only will it give you extra cash to add to your budget, but it can also give you valuable experience which you may add to your resume later on.

Most fast-food chains employ students and you can often find managers who are kind enough to adjust our shift hours to suit your class schedule. Family restaurants also take in university students as well but they do not hire as often as fast-food chains do.

Learn more about finances

One of the best ways you can budget your allowance to last a month is to learn more about finance. It can give you valuable knowledge on how to budget your monthly allowance, your future salary, and it can also give ideas on how to grow your money through investments. Accountancy is a branch of mathematics and what better place to learn Mathematics than at FamilyTutor?

FamilyTutor is a home tuition in Singapore that offers the best home-based and online tutors for every student’s needs. We have thousands of highly skilled and qualified home-based tutors who can cater your needs on a wide range of subjects including, of course, mathematics. If you are interested, then you can click here to start your online tutoring course in Mathematics. We also offer home tutoring from primary students to university level students.



Carelle is a teacher who has been through the ups and downs of the teacher and learner life. She wishes for every learner to gain educational satisfaction that will help embody the people they want to be in the future.

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