Cash, it makes the world go round. It’s the stuff of dreams and also the reason for a lot of stress and worry. It’s so important to know how to handle your money, not only as a student, but as a means to achieving your personal goals in life. Money matters are complicated and it’s often hard to know where to begin, which is why we want to give you this guide to budget and make money work for you.

1. Evaluate Your Needs

Have you ever sat down and worked out exactly how you spend your money? No? Does it get to month end and you’re broke but you have no idea why?

It’s time to sit down and have a good hard thing about your bank balance and how you spend every month. Start by making a list of your essentials and what they cost – these should be things like Accommodation, Transport, Food, Electricity & Water and your phone bill – and add them up. That should tell you your average cost of living per month.

Don’t forget to give yourself a little bit of “fun” money, but not too much. You need to be brutal, as much as you think having the latest iPhone 8, that new album on spotify, or those new kicks is important – they’re really not. These are wants!

A good tip is to make an envelope system – Provided you can keep it safe.
Allocate envelopes for the items you need to pay for and place cash inside of those. Do not draw from your account unless you absolutely have to! That way you can see exactly how much you have available to you.

2. Evaluate Your Wants

Think about your wants. What is it you would like to do this month? How about in 5 months time, a year from now and 5 years down the line? If you have goals that saving will help you achieve, set these up and budget them into your monthly spending.

Think of them as short term goals (buying that new top you liked), mid-term goals (saving towards a deposit on a car by the time you graduate) and long term goals (buying a house), oh, and it’s never too early to start saving for the things that really matter like Retirement, if you’re not already, you should be putting a little bit away every month.

It helps to give your goals dates – this makes them more tangible and real, rather than “one day” or “someday”.

Add these up and evaluate what you can and can’t afford. Your longer term goals can have less put into them to start with and build up as you start earning more, you don’t want to feel like you can’t have a life at all, but you should also not dedicate too much to frivolity.

3. Avoid Debt

It sounds so easy, right? Wrong. Debt is a nasty little creature that starts innocently. You open that clothing account to get an outfit for an interview, the next thing you know, you’re dedicating more than your monthly savings into paying it all back!

Not all credit is bad, for instance, if you have a credit card, use it only for emergencies like a blown tyre or doctors visit.

Rather than rely on credit, try to save a little bit each month for items like clothing or bigger items like TVs etc. Also, make sure you’re sticking to your budget for things like groceries, compare prices before you buy items and only use your credit when necessary!

4. Face Your Budget Demons!

You are the only one who can control how you spend or save your money. If you have a bit of a problem with shopping or fast foods or spending on other frivolous items, it’s time to own up to it. If you’re spending on small things here and there, it soon adds up, and you would be amazed at what you could have accomplished instead of being impatient and gratifying an impulse want.

Here are a few hints to avoid spending money that you dont want to:
Plan your shopping and shopping lists and stick to them. Take a discipline buddy with you – Someone who will stop you from buying that bag of chips instead of the rice you needed.
Try finding hobbies that don’t involve being exposed to your usual spending triggers – Take up running for instance.
Try to avoid malls and other places that would make you want to whip out your wallet.
Always ask yourself: Do I need this or is this because I want to?

That’s it! It sounds so easy, but it can be so hard. Be patient with yourself and remember, you are allowed to reward yourself, just not too much!

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