One of the biggest challenges students face when they start university is being fully responsible for their finances. This means learning to budget. It’s important to stick to a budget to live comfortably and participate in activities until the very end of the month. Plus, improving your budgeting skills now will be beneficial for the rest of your life. Here are some strategies to practise.
1. Calculate Your Income
To figure out how much you have available to spend each month, you need to know your income. This may include the amount you receive for living costs from your student loans and funds from grants. If you feel that your income is too low for your needs, consider searching for a part-time job, picking up gig work, or starting your own business at university.
2. Find Scholarships
Another way you can increase your income is to find scholarships. If you search enough, you should be able to find several that are relevant for your situation. It may take some effort to apply to them all, but it can pay off in the long term by significantly increasing your income.
3. Track Where Your Money Goes
Your budget should be about more than how much you can afford to spend: you need to allocate funds to different activities. The best way to determine how much you can assign to each is to track your current spending habits with a budgeting app. Bear in mind that some expenses will be the same each month, whereas others will vary. It’s the variable ones you need to be most careful about, as these can push you over budget.
4. Include Credit Card Payments in Your Budget
You’ll quickly build high-interest debt if you use your credit card frequently and only make minimum payments. It’s best to pay off your balance in full each month — but to be able to do this, you need to include credit card payments in your budget.
If you use your credit card responsibly, you can start building a good credit score. However, make sure you do your research before you choose a credit card. Rather than applying for the first one you come across, find one that will benefit you.
5. Aim to Spend Less Than Your Income
You should never set a budget that uses 100 percent of your income. There’s always a chance you’ll face an emergency — and if you have no funds left, you’ll need to add a payment you can’t afford to your credit card. Avoid debt by consistently spending less than your monthly budget.
6. Save Whatever You Can
It’s better still to allocate some of your budget to savings. You can use these funds in an emergency, for purchases that are too large for your monthly budget, or just to start developing good financial habits.
7. Set Financial Goals
It can help with your motivation to budget to have long-term financial goals, such as paying off your student loans by a certain time. To reach these goals, you’ll need to have some short-term targets that relate to your everyday budgeting.
One way you can free up more funds in your budget is to move into an affordable apartment. Foundry Lofts offers Brock University off-campus housing to suit any budget. Choose between a furnished or unfurnished suite with three or four roommates. Apply now for the floor plan you want before they’re all sold out.