Perhaps one thing that I’ve had to concede during the few years I’ve lived away from parents is: budgeting is actually quite important. U.K. student loans are paid out three times a year which complicates matters as I’m dealing with huge lump sums rather than monthly wages or whatever. Personally, I tend to go into specifics with my budget and plan weeks in advance, but I know less detailed money planning works better for some people. Here are some stuff that I’ve found helpful when I’m planning my expenditures for the academic year.
When it comes to money planning, Excel is my best friend
Where there’s maths involved, there’s nothing more useful than the formula functions available on Excel. It’s saved me hours. I used this template as a starting point to save me setting up all the formulas myself (I think clicking on the link downloads the Excel spreadsheet by Save the Student on to your computer). You can easily edit the categories to suit your specific circumstances.
Consult parental figures
I don’t know about you, but if I tried to support myself through university purely with student loans I’d have to choose between having a roof over my head and eating. I do like both. Perhaps you’re lucky in that you could survive on loans alone but I and a lot of my friends definitely had support from The Bank of Mum and Dad (heh heh). The way I did it was working out the bare minimum I can live on comfortably first and then talking to parents about how much help I’d need in the next year. Whichever way I do it, involving my parents in the budgeting process was definitely a big help for me.
There are things that are going to be important to you money-wise. For me, this year it was driving lessons. This meant that spending on things like nights out and clothes basically took a back burner for a bit (fine by me, I’m hardly the fashionista anyway). Can’t have it all…
Budget savings in
One really useful money tip I was told by mum (who was told by her dad) was to think of savings as its own spending category rather than seeing how much is left over each month. It worked for the previous two generations, so I’m taking comfort in the fact that this is tried and tested.
Every month or so I like to look back at the Excel spreadsheet to see how ‘on track’ I am with my spending. I tend to be pretty good, but this academic year I seem to have forgotten how to not spend everything at once. Oh well, I figured that this is the time to be stupid with money to work out how I can best be not stupid with money in the future. At least right now I don’t have things like a house and a car to worry about.
I know everyone does their finances in totally different ways and, for some people, it’s not a comfortable thing to talk about (especially over the Internet). However, I would love to hear from you if you find something especially helpful for money management.