University Budgeting: Everything Music Students Need to Know

From guitar strings to gigging, studying in London can be costly. Read our essential guide on budgeting effectively...


Studying music in London can offer music students a number of challenges outside the classroom with a big one being how to budget.

The capital is undoubtedly one of the best places in the world to launch your music industry career but it can be expensive.

However, it doesn’t need to be prohibitively so if you’re proactive and able to take advantage of the many offers open to students.

Here are some top tips for you to help you manage your money…

Get organised 

As hard as this might be when the excitement of the academic year begins, getting organised is a key part of staying on top of your finances. 

So you can create a spreadsheet showing your ingoings and outgoings to get an idea of where you need to save. Or you can access a dedicated student budget calculator

This UCAS calculator tracker is great as it allows you to input your university, then figure out a rough idea of what your living costs might be, from broadband bills to getting around your new home."

According to Save the Student’s 2022 student banking survey, Santander is the most popular bank among students. Benefits include a free 4-year Santander 16-25 Railcard and interest-free arranged overdraft.

As a student you are entitled to savings on a range of things too - from Spotify to phone contracts or shopping. Do your research and find your discounts...



All London students need to factor travel into their budget. Although there are plenty of transport options from tube to bus, bike and beyond, getting around the capital can be a pricey endeavour. However, all is not lost - as a student, there are plenty of discounts you can get which will help you save on your travel...    

National Express Young Persons Coachcard: £12.50 a year (plus £2.50 p&p) for a third off coach fares.

16-25 Railcard: £30 a year for a third off your rail fares. Pay £70 and save a third for three years. 

18+ Student Oyster Photocard: Pay a £25 admin fee for 30 percent off London travelcards. You need a London address in term-time to be eligible. 

As a general rule of thumb, the further in advance you book your ticket, the cheaper your travel will be. So in this way, it again pays to be organised…" 

Course materials

When starting university as a music student, gear and instrument maintenance can potentially be a big financial outgoing. If you’re a guitarist or a drummer, there are obvious things you can do such as setting aside some money for new strings and sticks every month. There are also several other ways you can make savings with us.  

Look out for gear discounts via our network of industry partners. We work with many of the industry’s best manufacturers including the likes of Shure, Ernie Ball, Korg, Orange Amplifiers and more. Keep your eyes peeled for exclusive offers.

Remember that ICMP maintains a stock of instruments, amps and electronics that can be borrowed free of charge from our facilities helpdesk for recording, practice and rehearsal. All ICMP students can use these facilities for personal practice free of charge outside of time tabled hours.  

Find out more about our Facilities. 



Food is another essential, yet potentially big cost in London but eating well and healthily doesn't need to come at a price. Top tips to keep your costs low include:

Packed lunches - these will save you big time when on the go.

Use a list - put this together before going shopping and try and avoid impulse buys.

Make big dishes, cool, then freeze - this avoids wasting  food and money.

Apps including Olio and Too Good to Go can also help you save on food and food waste. 

Bills, bills, bills

Remember to put a certain amount of money aside each month for utility bills such as Broadband, gas, electricity and water." 

Setting up regular payments is a good way of managing your money and will help make sure you don’t miss a payment. If you're able to, see if you could save by switching your energy supplier. You can compare energy suppliers online (using a free service such as uSwitch).

Check out this Which? Guide for more on how to reduce your energy bill. We are all aware of the various issues out there surrounding the cost of living crisis so try and keep an eye on your bills...


Whether it be gigs, student nights or open mic events, your social life can be the biggest drain on your finances as a student. It's worth trying not go too crazy when your loan lands, especially during those first few weeks of term. Allocate yourself a certain amount of entertainment budget and try to stick to it if possible. 

Keep your eye out for offers and cheap nights out from our events team


Insure your instrument

You might be surprised by how much your instrument(s) are actually worth.  But instrument insurance in London is well worth taking out. Like any busy, capital city, things happen and things go missing so it's worth protecting yourself from any mishap. 

Check out online comparison sites for the best deals. Or alternatively, look into joining the Musicians' Union (MU)  as a student member. MU members receive up to £2,000 of instrument and related musical equipment cover, anywhere in the world as part of their membership. 

Find out more about the MU. 

Budget at home

If this is the first time you're living away from your parents, then the cost of household goods like toothpaste and washing up liquid might come as something of a surprise.

Again, setting some money aside is a good idea, shop in saver outlets and take advantage of special offers or value brands."  

Do you live in shared accommodation? Then organise a shared kitty where you put in change to cover bin bags, toothpaste, washing up liquid and the like. It’s dull but at the same time will avoid arguments in the long run.

Use technology and websites to get discounts

There are plenty of ways you can source discounts for you to make your money go further. Sign up to sites including UNiDAYS and Student Beans, which list myriad different offers and discounts. You should also carry your student ID with you at all times and ask when you buy something whether you're entitled to money off. Some places don't advertise this... 

When it comes to tech, there are plenty of apps and websites out there. 

Check out Money Dashboard and HyperJar to keep control of your own finances. If you're looking to stay on top of bills in a shared house, then Splitwise could be useful."

App-based banks such as Monzo and Starling also have useful tools to get a good view of your money.

Visit the UCAS website for more tips on how to budget successfully. 

Study music in London with ICMP

If you're interested in developing your musicianship,  learning from our regular industry guests and collaborating within the vibrant ICMP creative community, then speak to our Admissions Team. They're on hand to help you find the right course that matches your ability and aspirations.

Contact the team on 020 7328 0222 or via email and start your music career today.

Find your course

by ICMP staff writer
September 19, 2022
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