9 must-dos for budgeting
Peculiarly, hangovers and student finance have one striking similarity: they both induce a feeling that the stomach is doing it's best to escape through the mouth.
There is a simple remedy, but it ain't pretty: budget. While you might respond to your bank statement like this...
...budgeting is actually pretty simple, if you break it down.
Look at your bank balance
I know, I know. But you've got to know exactly what you have - and that's your figure to split up. If you're the saving kind, leave a little aside before making your calculations.
Add up your income
Try not to cry.
Be precise and don't over-estimate. Anything which isn't certain (say, birthday money or the presumption of getting a part time job) doesn't count. Get exact figures for your maintenance loan - budgets can be either helpful or imprecise, never both.
Any automatic outgoings?
Suspect your money is sneaking off in the night? Wondering if you're getting blackout drunk and not remembering mass-spending sprees? When you're figuring how much you have to spend, remember to add in any automatic outgoings - your phone contract, any charity donations, bank charges, utility bills and so forth. It's too easy to forget the money leaving your account automatically.
Add up your (over) spending & be specific
If your weekly supermarket shop comes in at £19.50 every week, don't budget £20 for food - how much does it cost to get there? Is that the only trip you make each week or do you pop out for an extra loaf of bread or an emergency bottle of whiskey during the week? Get down the details, they matter.
Budget for everything - not just the essentials
Sure, this is depressing. But think about the extra coffee you have sometimes, or the once-a-month gym outing. It may only be a couple of quid here and there but it adds up quickly.
Once you've worked out what you've got, and what you're spending on, divide it up by the number of weeks you need to survive. Think logically - is this just for the term or will you be living off this money during the summer too?
Leave a little spare
There's no such thing as a typical week, which means your budget should account for anything out of the ordinary. This could be as simple as knowing that sometimes you're powerless to resist the ASOS sale.
Most people find themselves hard up because an unexpected cost comes in. Deliberately cater for this - it's much easier to save gradually. For instance, if you know your car tyres are wearing out and will need replacing at £60 each, put that money aside in your car budget each week. Then when you have to spend, it won't seem such a big hit.
Have something to save for
If Walter White can cook meth to provide for his family, you can keep control of your finances for a holiday.
Cash, cash, cash
Once your week's budget is figured out, take it all out in cash. Obviously, don't carry it all around all the time - one drunken coat lost later and you'll be starving for the whole week. Take it all out and then split it per spend. It's the best way to stick to your limits.
Cash is also a real turn off to impulse buys, too, which are the enemy of budgets.
Stick with it - have some self-control
I know, obvious much?! But it matters. Budgets are boring. Boring and hard-work. So it's tempting not to bother. Where's your self-control? C'mon, man. When you're living off peanut butter in the final week of term, you'll really wish you'd looked after your money a little better.
Best of luck
You won't be broke no mo'