It is important at the beginning of your academic career to realise that you will be living on limited resources. By planning your income and expenditure you can avoid sudden cash short-falls and minimise the level of debt you have on graduation.
Budgeting well means balancing the amount of money you have coming in (your income) with the amount you spend (your expenditure). If you draw yourself a budget plan you will have a better understanding of your situation and be able to make a decision on your financial needs.
To work out your income: add together the money you have coming in (for example, your student loan, earnings and any parental contribution) and decide whether to calculate this income on a weekly on monthly basis.
To work out your expenditure: you have to be honest and write down everything you spend (for example rent, food, travel costs, social spending, and purchase of books etc), again either weekly or monthly. If you deduct this amount from your income the balance will either be a deficit or a surplus. If you have a surplus, it is worth putting this money away for emergencies. If you have a deficit you will have to think about ways to economise, or if not ways of increasing your income.
It is important to keep track of your finances by filing together all copies of your bills, bank statements etc, as well as a record of the money you withdraw from the cash machine and other transactions such as cheques or Paypal. Always cross check any transactions you make with your bank statement.
An easy way of working out your budget is using the MSN Money Student Budget Calculator. This enables you to input all of your income and expenditure over the year and work out a set budget for you.
BUDGETING HINTS AND TIPS
- Make a distinction between spending money on things you need and things you just want.
- Try and make cash withdrawal once a week and don’t carry cards with you.
- Allow money for socialising but keep it as low as possible – you don’t have to be out every night you can always invite people round for a meal and improve your culinary skills in favour of convenience foods.
- If you do get into the position of owing money you shouldn’t ignore it, or throw the red bills away. It is not a good idea to borrow money to pay your debts off – you should talk to someone first. If you have to borrow make sure it’s only from your interest-free Student Overdraft facility.
- You should deal with your priority debts first. An example of priority debts would be the risk of losing the roof over your head or having the gas/electricity cut off.
- Always keep copies of any correspondence you receive or send, including any forms you are asked to complete. If you make any phone calls to creditors, keep a log of when you made them and briefly what was said.
MONEY SAVING TIPS
There are a number of ways you can save money as a student, including:
Weekly shop – You can order online and have your shopping delivered – if there’s a group of you, you can take advantage of offers and cut the delivery charge down to an absolute minimum when divided between you.
Phone calls – let your family and friends call you and if you have a mobile phone which is costing you more than you expected, consider changing to a ‘pay as you go’ tariff.
Make your lunch – far cheaper than buying sandwiches everyday
Cook for friends – they will probably invite you back. Or have an evening where everyone invited brings something with them (eg. wine, starter, main course, sweet) – more fun than eating on your own
Check out the charity shops – lots of bargains to be had there, including books
Buy a Purple card – although it costs, it could save you more than the fee during the year
Bank accounts – some student bank accounts come with money-saving rewards and benefits. Look out for one that suit you.
Don’t be encouraged by special offers to sign up for a store card – there are outrageous interest payments if you can only pay the minimum amountIF YOU GET IN FINANCIAL DIFFICULTIES
Students are under a great deal of pressure financially. If you find yourself with a financial problem it is important that you talk to someone, there are people around who can and will help. Visit the students' union Welcome Desk in Bowland College and ask for a member of our advice team if you need support.