Budgeting: How do I do it?

As a student, money is usually pretty tight. To make sure you’re never shocked by the number you see on your screen or the cashpoint when you check your balance and to make sure you haven’t got scary red bills coming budgetthrough your letterbox, here are some tips to help manage your finances.

Essentials:

First of all you need to work out guaranteed monthly outgoings, i.e. the money that you will spend no matter what. Typically this will include rent, utility bills, phone and internet bills and any other direct debits you have, for example a gym membership. Work the total figure out and take it off what you have in your account. Just because it says you have £2,000 in your account, it doesn’t mean you have £2,000 to spend on whatever you want. The total after you’ve subtracted these ‘fixed’ costs is the money you control.

Food:

We all need to eat, it’s how we survive and it’s one of my favourite things to do. Write a shopping list before you go to the supermarket and try not to include too many luxury items. Treat yourself by all means but it defeats the purpose if the whole trolley is full of treats! If you have no idea how much it’s going to cost, you can check prices online or add the prices up on your phone as you go around the supermarket. You should be able to get by on £30 a week so try not to spend more than this. There’s a lot that can be said for supermarket own-brand products and multi-buy deals to help save you money the next time around.

Travel:

Student housing/halls is often a small commute from the University site, so naturally trains and buses are likely to be used to save your legs. Again work out what the cost is likely to be per week and take it off the money in your account. If you have the option you can buy a bus pass as a one off cost to save you worrying about scraping the pennies together to pay your fare.

Sundries:

This includes nights out, trips to see friends, trips to the cinema for instance, clothes and even things like a takeaway at the weekend. This if very dependent on the person; some people are very careful of money and don’t want to spend it on things that aren’t essential. Others are creatures of the night and like to go out several times a week. As long as you know how much you’re likely to spend and keep an eye on that number on the screen you should be able to stay on top of your money and know what you can and can’t do with whatever is in your account.

Overdraft:

I personally don’t have an overdraft, but it is a good idea for emergencies. If you know money is going to be tight at some points, an overdraft can provide a safety cushion for you and keep you from worrying too much. A word of warning though, you will have to get out of your overdraft so don’t let it get away from you! Try to keep those numbers on the screen as positive as possible. If it means changing to a different brand of vodka one night then it’s not the end of the world.

Good luck!

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David Mayers

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