It’s the beginning of a new year and a great time to put some new habits into place. If you spent last year stressing about money (or even if you didn’t), drawing up a budget is a good place to start. After all, when you know you can cover your bills each month, you can relax and focus on the really interesting stuff, like studying and partying with your friends. Here’s how to go about it:
Set it up
Draw up two columns, either on a piece of paper or on a spreadsheet if you’re feeling technological. Label one column “Income” and the other “Expenses”.
List your income
Your income is made up of all your “incomings”. This includes money from:
- Bursaries or other funding
- Student loans
- Part-time jobs
If you receive an annual amount for any of these, divide it up into a monthly figure so you don’t fall short towards the end of the year.
Note down your expenses
This includes everything you spend money on, such as:
- Tuition fees
- Cell phone and/or land line
- Groceries, like food and toiletries
- Bank charges
- Sundry other expenses
It’s amazing how much small expenses add up to. Try keeping all your receipts for a couple of months to check how much you’re really spending on that daily chocolate bar or weekly evening out.
Now crunch that budget!
Many of these amounts, both income and expenses, will be the same each month. If you find you’re feeling the crunch at the end of the month though, try making some different choices where you can.
For example, you could:
- Reduce your food expenses by buying in bulk (consider sharing large bags with friends)
- Reduce your entertainment expenses by enjoying cheaper activities around the city, like picnicking in the park
- Reduce your bank charges by researching the best accounts for students
- Increase your income by taking on a part-time job, or if you already have one, working a few more hours
Feeling in control of your finances gives you peace of mind and a sense of taking responsibility for your life, both now and for your future.