Get in control of your student finances with a budget

By Elisabeth Dyrli Joranger 29. Mar 2023

As a student, your finances are probably limited and therefore it is extra important to plan how to use them. Elisabeth, our expert on student finances will explain how to create and use a budget!

The feeling of security in everyday life

Control and overview of your own finances gives you security and safety in everyday life. It is good to know that you have money to both pay fixed costs and food in the shop right up until the next payment from Lånekassen or the next salary.

Wisdom about budget

"A budget tells your money where it's going, so you don't have to wonder where it went", John Maxwell.

1. Gain control and an overview

Find your income and expenses and put this into an overview. Whether it is on paper, in Excel or you use an app, the most important thing is to create an overview that you can use. This is what a budget is - a tool for you to have control over what you have in income and what you spend money on.

Smart apps for finances and saving money.

2. How to set up a budget?

  1. Start by finding your income, this is loans, grants, wages and any other income. You first set these up in your overview and find the sum.

  2. Once you have found your income, you must look at what you spend money on. Log in to your online bank and print the account statement for three months back in time. Use different colors to mark different categories of purchases, for example pink to mark all food purchases.

  3. When you have gone through the three months, you add up and enter the figures into the budget. You divide the fixed and variable costs into subcategories.

  4. Fixed costs are rent, electricity, insurance and other fixed invoices, you cannot do anything about the fixed costs and they come every month or regularly throughout the year.

  5. The variable costs, such as food, clothing, entertainment and hygiene items, are costs that vary from month to month.

  6. Once you have found your costs, list them in the overview under your income. You now see the income against the cost and can see what the result will be. Do you spend more money than you receive, do you just break even or do you have money left every month?

How to avoid debt collection.

3. How to use a budget?

You have now set up a budget and have an overview. The first time you set up a budget and look at your expenses, you may be surprised at what you actually spend money on.
This overview gives you the opportunity to make changes, but remember to be realistic if you make changes.

If, for example, you spend a lot of money on food because you often eat in cafes and restaurants or buy a lot of take away, you can reduce the cost by shopping more in stores. You must then change the amount in the budget. You can do this on all the costs in your budget. Once you have adjusted the budget to the way you want to spend your money, we recommend that you regularly look at your actual costs against the budget.

In the beginning, it may be a good idea to do this once a week. This means that you go into the online bank, look at what you have spent money on and write down the amount next to the cost in the budget. In the next few weeks, you need to be careful about how you are doing in relation to your budget, and make sure that you stick to what you have planned.

Noodles in a bowl
Woman on the floor, using a calculator

Noodles are cheap food, and taste good once in a while, but it is wise to prioritize a food budget that allows you to eat healthy and varied.

Get healthy and smart food tips for students!

Use the budget as a guide

A budget is not a conclusion, but a good guide and a goal you have set for what and how much you will spend money on.

If you spend less than planned in a month, you can celebrate by putting this money into a savings or buffer account. If, on the other hand, you spend more money than you intended, and end up in zero or minus, you must make changes so that this does not happen again.

More good financial tips:

  • If you do not have a separate account for bills (fixed costs) today, we recommend that you create a new account for bills in the online bank. When you receive a loan/salary, transfer or set up a fixed assignment in the bank for the amount that covers the fixed costs. Then you are always sure that you have money to pay, so that you do not receive a debt collection notice and have to pay additional fees.

  • Review your streaming subscriptions, do you need them all?

  • If you have a summer job, but do not work for the rest of the academic year, we recommend that you save part of your salary so that you can use the salary from the summer job throughout all months of the year.

  • Create a buffer account. It is not the same as a savings account, but is an account from which you can withdraw money should something unexpected occur one month.

Get free financial advice

Do you need help setting up a budget, are you wondering about saving or do you need advice on how to make everyday life a little easier financially?

Book an appointment for financial advice at SSN.


Elisabeth Dyrli Joranger

Financial and booking consultant

Elisabeth has worked for students in SSN for over five years, and is concerned that the students should learn as early as possible about making good financial choices.

She is also concerned that it should not be scary to talk about one's own private finances or to ask for help if necessary.