Most students find themselves on a tight budget, so handling your finances is vital if you want to meet all your costs.
We have put together tips on how you can balance your budget and maintain your studies.
Create a complete budget
Most students live within a tight budget. You should budget for everything: this means creating a budget that includes everything. That may sound obvious, yet many people don’t follow this most basic of rules. It’s far too easy to lose control of personal expenditure – and even easier when you haven’t anticipated all of your likely costs. The best time by far to create your budget is at the start of your studies. Anticipate all.
“Everything” should include a reserve fund for unexpected yet ESSENTIAL expenses – but the key is not to spend that until something unexpected and essential does occur. Never spend your reserves simply because something unexpected hasn’t happened to date and so it feels like you have extra resources – it could happen tomorrow potentially AFTER you’ve depleted your finances.
A sensible budget
A straightforward budget centred on your income and outgoings should suffice. Include all regular expenses – the likes of rent, mobile phone costs, food, social life – plus one-off costs. Remember that a budget includes your funds. Don’t place hope in funds entering your account when there’s a chance that they might not. Will you include income from a part-time job? If so, is that employment something you can commit to all-year round including at exam times? If not, adjust your budget overall or even seasonally.
Now you’ve made your budget – stick to it
Start by apportioning money. Create a “control” or overall account in which your income sits – and then each month transfer from that ONLY what your budget allows. This way, your spending shouldn’t run away with itself. Establish direct debits for essentials such as rent, which is something that you must prioritise, then food, travel, and all purchases essential for your study. Make sure you take care of these vital costs before you incur others. Use budgeting apps or an Excel spreadsheet to track your expenditure. If you are using online banking why not set up regular bank balance alerts? Perhaps if you meticulously note what you spent in a month; you’d be surprised by the total amount of your smaller purchases.
Aim to be a careful and disciplined shopper, buying what you need as opposed to merely what you want – even where the costs are small. Be aware that some things might be cheaper at certain times of the year; but resist impulse buys during seasonal sales. Pause before responding to “special offers”.
Plan and create shopping lists, and don’t food shop while hungry – when you might be tempted to abandon your list in favour of more expensive snack items that you can eat straight away. Cooking at home and freezing leftovers is always cheaper. If you can, why not club together with friends and buy in bulk, this could prove to be a much cheaper way to food shop. Make sensible use of student discount schemes and travelcards.
When it comes to cash, observe the saying, “Neither a lender nor a borrower be”. If you use a credit card, pay back what you owe before you accrue interests. Don’t just make minimum repayments.
If you slip into debt and that becomes a problem, please seek support and advice.
Help with financing your studies
The team here at Law Training Centre know how challenging it can be to balance your budget and maintain your studies. Remember that tutors can and will provide all of the detailed outlines, notes and advice that you need to supplement your core study tools. Don’t buy books until you speak with your tutor. We also have a team who are here to help with payment plans and options to make your career accessible so never hesitate to contact them and have that conversation. Always remember that we are here to help.