Being a student is expensive and with pressure from parents, sponsors, or yourself to do well and pass each year, it isn’t always feasible taking on a part-time job to help supplement your income.
Whether you’re a trust fund baby or personally paying off a student loan, having a budget is the right thing to do…
So, what is a budget?
A budget is a form of financial planning which involves racking the movement of your money into and out of your bank. The purpose of having a budget is that it helps you identify your expenses, plan for shortfalls, and detect bad spending habits you may not be aware of.
Budgeting isn’t exactly thrilling but with enough practice, life does become easier.
Setting Up Your Budget
Step 1: Find a budget planner
You can download free budget planners, spreadsheets and apps online. Basically, a budget planner gives you a visual breakdown of all your income vs expenditure and what you’re left with after all is said and done.
Step 2: Track Your Expenses
Tracking each and every expense can seem a little nuts but it’s easy if you just keep slips or take notes of what you spend on. The reason for this is so that you can ultimately understand what you spend your money on.
- Get a notebook
- Take note of each expense
- Add it all up
Step 3: Start Budgeting
Note every expense and consider the following categories.
This refers to money you have either earned, saved or have coming in…Any money that comes to you that you don’t have to repay.
This refers to items you personally pay for, out of your own money. This does not include anything paid by someone else.
- Student Loans
- College Expenses – tuition fees, study supplies etc
- Living Expenses – Rent, groceries, toiletries, cell phone
- Transportation – Taxi fare, bus fare etc
- Health – Vitamins, prescriptions, medical aid, gym etc
- Personal – Entertainment, clothes etc
Once filled out, you will be able to see:
- Whether or not you’re making ends meet based on what disposable income you have, and
- Where you may need to start cutting back
Budgeting Tips & Things To Remember
- Consider setting up a second back account, specifically a savings account. This will prevent you running out of money and ultimately encourage savings
- Join loyalty programmes and find out about student discounts
- Remember that your spending patterns will differ significantly between term-time and the holidays – you will need to budget accordingly for both
- Shop around – compare prices to save money on groceries, toiletries etc
- Credit cards are NOT the solution! They attract high interest charges, and can result in your credit rating being tarnished even before you start your first job
- Earn extra money in your spare time – instead of lazing your June and December holiday away, apply for vac work
- Don’t waste your money in pre-packed meals and take away coffees – making your own lunches at home will save you loads of money over time