How to Follow a Budget (tips for students)
Sticking to a budget is something millions of people fail to do every year. Students have it more difficult than anyone else. They usually receive money in large chunks and have to make it last for the following few months. It’s tempting to blow it all on the latest game or a wild party, but this can leave you in severe financial difficulties.
Here are some tips for how to follow a budget as a student and prevent yourself from becoming impoverished.
Actually Make a Budget
To follow a budget, you have to actually make a budget. And it’s not enough to just form one in your head. You have to make sure it’s written down and stapled somewhere where you can see it. It’s better to make a budget for each season and for each student loan payment.
You can also make it more complex if you have a part-time job which pays you semi-regularly. Ensure you cover the essentials before concentrating on entertainment and your social life.
If possible, try to leave a little left over for emergencies. You never know when you might have to replace a textbook or attend a special event you didn’t foresee.
Direct Debit Savings
We already mentioned how you should aim to save some money each month, even if it’s only a small amount. Lock yourself into this commitment by setting up a direct debit. Each month, the amount you set will automatically leave your account. It’s like a bill and it’s unavoidable.
It’s a way to force discipline and make sure you have a nest egg if your financial situation takes a turn for the worst.
Having daddy’s credit card to ravage is a blessing afforded to few of us. If you have your own credit card, only use it for emergencies. The benefits of being able to buy anything whenever you want are outweighed by the fact you have to pay it all back with interest. Essentially, you’re making every expense cost more than it should through paying by card.
Cut the Habits
As a student, it’s not viable to stop smoking and drinking alcohol. If you want to take control of your budget, reduce the amount you spend on your guilty pleasures. Consider drinking only on some nights of the week, rather than every night of the week. Life doesn’t have to revolve around these things.
Students often find themselves not having the money to cover their expenses at the end of the month. It’s time to start using discounts. Students have access to a wide range of discounts on food, drinks, and study supplies. Look online at some of the coupon sites and start frequenting them regularly.
This can free up some of your budget and give you a safety cushion. It takes away much of the stress of dealing with money.
Share the Load
Get your parents or a close friend involved. If they pledge to help you keep on top of your spending habits, you have another responsibility. The fear of disappointing the ones we care about by overspending can overturn the urge to buy something you don’t really need.
If you want to go even further, you could share or give access to a bank account to your parents. They can help you balance the books and keep you on track.
Effective budget control is about maintaining track of where your money goes. Always hold the receipts and review them every week or two. Not only does it ensure you’re sticking to a budget, it catches those unnecessary expenses. Keep the previous month’s receipts and place the amounts into a spreadsheet so you can track your spending habits over a prolonged period of time.
Buying from the top brands is one of the reasons why so many students find themselves running out of money quickly. This isn’t just something which happens to those who buy clothes from designer brands. Simply buying a latte from Starbucks can seriously eat away at your bank balance.
Most of these top brands charge for the name on the box not the quality of the product itself. Buy second-hand when you can and go to the lower brands for everything else. There’s no shame in it and nobody is likely to notice.
Overall, sticking to a budget is about using everything around you to reduce costs. It’s about discipline and maintaining control over your spending habits. You should check back at least every two weeks to make sure you haven’t strayed. Do this and you’ll never have money worries again!
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