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How to create (and stick to!) a budget

15 October 2018

4 mins

As the new academic year begins, it’s time to get organised. And as this month is National Finance Planning Month I thought I’d write this blog on budgeting. Something every student has to look at every once in a while, to ensure they don’t get dangerously deep in overdraft and student credit cards.

I remember this time last year, when I started university, I had no idea where to start when it came to budgeting. However, as the year went on I learnt more and more ways to be cost effective.

So in this blog I am going to attempt to pass on my wisdom of budgeting to give you a rough idea of where to start, how to do it if you are a fresher, or if you just feel that maybe you could be better with your money!

However, I have a slight disclaimer to make… budgeting is very different for each individual, and so what I say in this blog works for me but may not work for you!

But one thing I do know, is that if at any point in your year, you become stressed or worried about your finances, then I strongly advise talking to someone, whether it be your peers, parents or the student finance services at your university! They will be able to offer advice, share experiences and knowledge and help guide you in the right direction so that finance is less of a worry!

Anyway, where to even begin with budgeting? The first thing you can do is break down the year in to month by month, looking at your incomes of each month and your outgoings. The reason I think it’s good to budget month by month is because things can change between months and some months you may have more or less money than others so it’s important to take in to account these changes!

The best way, which may be the ‘geekiest’ way to budget, is too create a spreadsheet or get a budgeting notebook. This way, you have a record of everything which can be updated if things change.

First, look at your incomes for each month so you know how much money you have to work with! These can come from a wide range of sources, the main ones for students being their maintenance loan, allowances from parents, part time jobs, and bursaries/scholarships. Then once you feel you have got all of your incomes noted down, start to think of your main outgoings, ranking them in importance.

So, start with things like your rent and any household bills, any insurances you may have such as car insurance and your phone contract. All the things you may get in trouble for if you don’t pay them on time!

Then, once the important outgoings are noted, start thinking about the necessities such as how much roughly your weekly food bill is or how much money each month you may need to spend on washing, and note these outgoings down too.

Finally, think of any other outgoings you can think of such as social events, or things you may need buy for your course. Once everything is taken in to consideration, total up your outgoings and take it away from your total income. This will have two possible outcomes:

  1. You may be lucky enough to have money left over each month which you can then think what you may want to spend this money on, or save this money for.
  2. You may not have enough income to cover your outcomes so in which case you need to decide if you can cut some outgoings or look to find another source of income!

There are many ways you can cut down your outgoings by being more cost effective. A big outgoing which can easily be cut down is the food bill each week. Now this isn’t me saying starve yourself, I’m saying that if you can be savvy in the way you do your weekly food shop then there will be some areas in which you can save money. For example, doing a meal plan each week to ensure you do not over buy, cooking in bulk so that you don’t waste any food and shopping in the reduced section of many supermarkets and making use of your freezer space more wisely!

These are just a few things you can do to cut costs, however next month I’ll write a more in-depth blog on how to be more cost effective at uni.

Until then, start budgeting and see if you need to cut any costs!

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