Living expenses and budgeting

Find out about student living expenses and why budgeting is important.

Budgeting is a skill that individuals learn by being in control of their money. The theory of budgeting is straight forward but putting into practice can be tough.

Watch the Basics of Budgeting video.

Average living expenses

Knowing what funding you have to support yourself is only half of budgeting as a student. You also need to know how much it will cost you to be a student.

Our living costs calculator will help you find out the average living expenses (as calculated from the expenditure of our current students) depending on your level of study, where you choose to live and whether you are a home, EU or international student.

International students: Please note that these figures are different from the financial maintenance test that you will be required to pass to obtain your Tier 4 student visa.


Work out what funding you have coming in and what money you have to pay out - simple!

Watch the How to budget video

Download our funding advice and budget planner to help you manage your money.

Budget and funding guide 2017/18

Budget and funding guide 2017/18

13 July 2017

Get an insight into average student spending, ideas for increasing your income, tips to reduce your expenditure and a helpful budget template to use.


Making your money go further

Ideas for increasing your income and reducing your expenditure.

You may have already had a part time job before coming to University, so why not carry that on?

Find out more about working during your studies

Making the most of the financial products that are available to you while you are a student is just being money savvy!

Find out more information about student bank accounts; what's good about them but also what to be cautious about.

Although you can borrow course books from our libraries, they are often in high demand and so you may find that you have to wait to use them and you may only be able to borrow them for a short time. This means you may need to buy important course books and you should budget for this.

Essential course books are likely to be available in Blackwell's bookshop located in Cardiff University Students’ Union.

You may also be able to buy the books on your reading list before you arrive as lecturers give the reading list for some courses to Blackwell's Bookshop. So if you pre-order them, they could be waiting for you when you arrive in Cardiff. Email Blackwell's to find out if they have your reading list or visit their website to order your books.

International students: It's often a good idea to wait until you are in Cardiff before buying course books. You may be able to share books with friends, and you won’t have to carry them from overseas.

NUS (National Union of Students)

As a student you will be able to buy an NUS card if you'd like one. If you do, you'll find that a lot of things, from cinema tickets to clothing, DVDs to travel, can be bought at discounted cost. If you're ever unsure if somewhere offers a student discount, just ask!

ISIC (International Student Identity Card)

ISIC card can be purchased for £12 at the STA Travel shop in Cardiff city centre. It is available to any full-time student and entitles you to discounts on charter flights, some accommodation, cinema tickets and admission to art galleries and museums.

To obtain an ISIC card, you need a passport-size photograph and proof that you're a full-time student.

Young Persons Coachcard

This card costs £10 for a year or £25 for three years and gives you 30% off all National Express coach travel in the UK. To get one you simply need proof that you're a student. You can buy the Young Persons Coach Card at National Express coach offices or online.

16-25 Railcard

This card costs £30 for one year or £70 for three years, and gives you a third off your rail travel in the UK. To get this you will need proof you're a student, your passport and a passport-size photo. You can buy the card at any railway station or online.

Get in touch

Get in touch with any questions you may have about living expenses or budgeting:

Advice and Money Team

Advice and Money (Heath Park)

Advice and Money (Cardiff Business School)