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The importance of budgeting – what student life taught me about managing your money
Keeping on top of your finances can sometimes be a tricky task. Scope’s Liam O’Dell talks about how his life at university so far has helped him to budget.
With student loans and grants lumped together with the costs of food, clothes and textbooks, it’s no surprise that as a student, I have been encouraged to budget. No matter how old you are, with money coming in and out of your bank account on a regular basis, it can be hard to keep track of everything. It can all start to feel very confusing indeed!
Although I may not have a physical document to hand which shows how much I have to spend each month, it’s all about having one go-to place where I can find out just what exactly is coming in, and what’s going out of my finances – in my case, it’s my banking app on my phone.
It’s when I saw what exactly I spent £6.67 on each week, for example, that the figure finally meant something. I knew what I needed to look at and so I asked myself: do I really need to spend money on this?
It’s a question you have to ask when you have a set amount of money coming in to your account each month – be it wages, benefits and so forth. It’s always important to have a go-to place to find out this information.
In my case, I’ve always been a particularly structured person. Whether it’s having a to-do list booklet for me to write down all my tasks, or making the most out of my email folders, I’m a big fan of keeping things organised. So, when it comes to something such as spending (which sometimes can be quite impulsive), it’s important that that’s planned too.
It’s also worth mentioning that some of the biggest savings come from supermarket shopping. Tracking down online coupons and going for the cheapest branded product are all little things which can help you to save money, and essentially, it’s small changes when it comes to budgeting which helps us save money.
Although I’m no expert when it comes to finances, here are a few tips I would recommend:
Use an online budget planner, or make your own. The Money Advice Service has a great tool which can help with budgeting – why not give it a try?
Have a drawer dedicated to forms, cheques and receipts. Even now, I still have the odd, crumpled and torn shopping receipt hanging out of my wallet whenever I need to pay for something. It just gets in the way and unless it’s an important receipt, most of them end up in the bin. However, that doesn’t mean that I disregard supermarket receipts completely – how much you spend on food should always be a key part of your budget.
Take note of what you owe others, and what they owe you. This is a habit which I have shamefully fallen out of whilst at university, which is worrying. A group decision to buy a Chinese takeaway can prove problematic when it’s unknown who hasn’t paid their share of the cost for prawn crackers. As much as it’s about returning favours, it also has an important role to play in what’s coming in and out of my finances.
Do you have any money-saving tips or advice on budgeting? Leave us a comment and let us know below.