What is Budgeting?
Budgeting is ensuring that your expenditure does not go above your income - not always as straightforward and simple as you may think.
Where Does All the Money Go?
It’s amazing how a few pounds spent at the shops or in a bar soon mount up. The only way to truly assess how much money you spend is to keep accurate records of everything or check your bank statements on a regular basis.
Individual priorities vary but it is essential to have shelter, food, water, warmth and light. These priority payments are the costs that should be met first. In other words, allocate your budget to these first and then the remainder can be spend on the non-priority elements.
Accommodation will be your largest expenditure. If you are in University accommodation, make sure you pay your bill at the start of term to avoid paying late fees. If you are in private rented accommodation, ensure that your bank account has sufficient funds to pay your rent at the agreed date. Before you sign a contract also make sure the payment dates match up with when you have money coming in (and get the contract checked in the Advice Unit if it is for the private rented sector).
Food expenditure can mount up if you don’t plan ahead. Relying on takeaways or ready meals is expensive. Try to organise a menu for the week and write a shopping list to ensure that you only purchase the food you will use.
Water, warmth and light
Water, warmth and light costs can take you by surprise with large quarterly bills. It is useful to pay these by monthly instalments to spread the cost. Again, ensure that there are sufficient funds in your bank account to pay these instalments as non-payment could result in supplies being cut off. If you are in shared accommodation it would be useful to organise one household bank account into which each tenant pays an agreed amount each month. This will ensure that the bills are paid and not inadvertently forgotten. Avoid putting one person’s name on all the utility bills as they will be the one liable if anything goes wrong – share them out fairly.
Remember that your student loan instalment has to last at least the weeks of term and maybe the holiday period as well. Calculate how many weeks this is and divide the money accordingly.