Dayna

The Guide To Budgeting

By Dayna Spear, October 17

Hey everyone! I hope you’re all doing well.

Today’s post… okay, I’ll admit, ‘the guide to budgeting’ sounds like a total bore. Nothing about the word ‘budgeting’ makes me want to jump out of my seat with excitement but unfortunately as we all get older, budgeting and finances become bigger parts of our lives… and if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can be scary!

I’d like to still be 10 years old with no financial worries apart from whether my pocket money would stretch enough to buy a new Tamagotchi, but I’m now 20, and if you’ve started a full-time job, become an apprentice or moved away to uni, you’re going to be dealing with your finances too. Let’s help each other! If anyone has any tips or tricks for me, they’d be most welcome!

Uni

So, whether you’ve recently started university in your hometown or you’ve moved away somewhere new, the chances are that you’ll get a student loan. A blessing, but also a curse, believe me. I was a student for 1 year before deciding uni wasn’t for me, so I do have some experience juggling the beast that is a student loan.

Why are they great? Well, it’s essentially ‘free money’ (until you have to pay it back… *screams*) and you’re flexible to use it however you like. As tempting as it is, please don’t blow it all on jagerbombs and Chinese takeaways. Remember, you need to buy, like, actual necessities with it such as food and rent. Oh well.

Why are they not so great? Well, they can be difficult when your loan doesn’t even cover your rent (oh, London) so you may want to think about taking up a part-time job to help.

Also, you only receive your loan at 3 points in the year, so making it stretch is important. It can seem like a lot of money initially, but making it last the entire term can be tricky.

Top Tips For Students:

  • Take note of all those things you know you’ll have to pay out for (such as rent, phone bill, transport etc) and deduct it straight away from your bank balance, so you know what you’ve got left to work with
  • Make set budgets for your food shopping, social life and more. Stick to it and don’t get led astray in the shops!
  • Get a Student Beans account and invest in an NUS card - the student discounts can be super helpful!
  • If possible, go shopping at night - there’ll be loads of stuff reduced!
  • Invest in a railcard if you use trains often - the discounts are fab.

Just remember, you’re living that student life now. As much as you may miss your Mum’s Waitrose food haul to feed the 5,000 or hot baths every single day, learn to make a compromise to ensure that money stretches as far as it can.

Full-Time Work Budgeting

So, if you’ve recently started your first full-time position or just enrolled on an apprenticeship, firstly… congrats! And, secondly, welcome to the new-found world of budgeting! Getting paid monthly may be completely alien to you just now. I know when I first started, it was tempting to blow it all on new clothes and shoes, but you’ve gotta be wise in situations like this and do what’s best for you.

Similarly to above, take note of the things you know you’ll have to pay out for. Remember, with a full-time job, you’ll need to consider transport too, whether that’s an annual bus pass, train ticket or petrol for your car.

Take this new-found income as a chance to save, if you can. It’s always good to have some pounds put away. Of course, you can’t change the amount of money you have coming in, but you can certainly gain more control of how it’s used.

Top Tips to Make Money Last

  • If it’s £10 a month or £100 a month, try and save up. Open up a separate savings account so you gain interest on it!
  • Whether it’s a new winter coat you need or a week’s food shop, keep your eyes out for discounts, sales and promotions.
  • Avoid cash points that charge you! Sure, it may only be £2.50, but it does add up, and that could’ve been used on something way more useful.
  • Food prep! Buying lunches every day can add up, and let’s not even talk about dinners! Of course, treating yourself is fine and dandy, but prepping meals at home is far, far kinder on the bank balance.
  • Account for every single penny - you really can make £1 stretch if you need to.
  • Take out cash instead of using your card constantly. I’ve heard loads of people say this works well for them; for example, on a night out, instead of flashing that contactless all night and realising in the morning that you’ve blown your month’s pay, take out a specific amount in cash and no more.

See, not so dull, was it… right? At the end of the day, budgeting is something everyone needs to learn, and it’s certainly not something we’re taught in school. It can be a tricky business for the most part, so share these tips and tricks with someone in need!

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