Elena's Blog: How to budget...on a budget!
I am one of these people who, even though I get SAAS and get some help from mommy dearest, I always end up skint half way through the month! I spend and I spend without thinking I might actually need food in my fridge and cupboard, rather I prefer to eat and drink out, I smoke (I am a bad example! Don’t follow my footsteps and if you do smoke, quit! It’ll save you money and air capacity in your lungs!) and do a lot of shopping I can’t really afford!
To make a long story short, on the 17th of January I realised I only had £50 to my name (yes! Cash and bank combined!). I had to find a way to make it till 7th of the next month that SAAS usually comes through, with only that amount and make final payments on things like…the gym or Netflix…! Yes, ok, I could live without Netflix, but, it’s no longer a luxury but a necessity! So I came up with this plan and it has saved me a lot of hassle and stress!
First of all, as students, we need to make sure we are not too extravagant and actually keep notes of what our monthly expenses are and how much we can afford to spoil ourselves. Nights out and drinks every so often might sound like a must on days of stress and/or procrastination, but, sometimes we need to stop and think that “that much can be too much!” - unless you work enough to cover expenses and spoil yourself! I know… The voice of conscience is a boring one, but one day, all this is going to be over and we will work full time and enjoy the rest of our time to ourselves. As for me, I find it hard to work at the moment with only almost one month away from the dissertation deadline, so even if I want to, I can’t even go out! - I’m sidetracking… I know!
So, here is a list of things you can do to improve your budget:
- Plan ahead! You don’t need a fancy app on your phone to do it for you and tell you you’re not going to make it! All you need is a pen and paper (thats what my gran always says to me at least! Haha!). Jot down all you monthly expenses, like rent, direct debits, subscriptions, etc. Make sure everything is covered and you have enough money to stock up that fridge and keep that belly full! However, when arranging a budget for grocery shopping, a good idea is to set a limit on hope much to spend per month.
- Clarify your priorities and needs! Do you really need that the gym subscription if you don’t go? Do you pay a monthly subscription on amazon prime and Netflix? Do you really need that iPad insurance you’ve been paying for ever and nothing has ever happened? Ok, yes, some of these you might really need, but if you take good care of your devices for example, you can save yourself and extra £20! As well as, if you have a subscription on things that pretty much offer the same services you can pick which one you use/prefer the most! Per example, the amazon prime is useful, but, not only all products don’t offer one day delivery, but also, to watch certain things on prime you need to pay extra! I vote Netflix (and of course I’m not sponsored!)
- Shop SMART!
SimpleYes, this is my “SMART” chart for shopping! (You can use it if you want to as well! - but not in writing or that’s breach of copyright).
So, when you go to the supermarket first of all make sure you are full and have no cravings! It’s scientifically proven you by more nonsense on an empty stomach! Don’t shop at one place, rather try to find the best deals on things you need (i.e. Farmfoods has better prices and offers on meats like chicken and mince, but Asda has better prices and deals on dry store goods like pasta, rice, bread etc. But, if you spend over £20 in Lidl they gift you a pack of good quality kitchen rolls). The part in brackets is an example, don’t quote me on it as offers change every week.
Also, something I tend to do is stock up on dry store goods. I will not need to use it all in a month and they last far longer than that! On a rainy day, the unopened pack of rice or bag of broth mix might be your lunch for the week!
In addition, buy more packs of sliced bread. Keep one in the freezer and the other in the fridge so it can last longer and won’t go to waste. Another student necessity is long lasting milk cartons. I understand it’s not the common preference, but if you buy the box of six cartons, it’ll last you for a long time and cost far less.
If what you want to purchase ticks all marks of the SMART chart, then put it in the cart! Always make sure the things you are stocked with can make a healthy quick meal that’ll last longer and cost the least possible. (A piece of advice, if you are a frequent salad eater, the pre-washed baggies are good, but a full lettuce will produce more salad and cost as much as the bag of shredded lettuce and will last longer).
- Try to hold back from indulgence!
I know this is hard! I speak from experience! I am baaaaaaaad with money! I will spend more on clothes than my food! But, if you can’t handle window shopping just take a walk in a quiet field. Which leads to my final bulletpoint…
- Make sure you cook at home and make your own coffee
Coffee/tea or whatever you drink is better when made by third parties. Nothing compares to a beautifully perfumed espresso straight from the coffee machine, with its smooth créma on top while sizzling hot! But, if you spend every day in uni about £1.50 for a coffee you spend on average £45pm, when, coffee you’ve made at home will cost on average £5pm. Think about it… you could have had an extra £40 to go on a night out (or two) or buy that thing you’ve been wanting for a while!
When it comes to food it’s tricky. Yes… Food in the union bar is quick and easy and those curly fries are a sin you can’t resist! But, if you cook at home you can preplan your meals, eat healthy, while your food won’t spoil and you can truly save money!
It’s not always easy to follow these rules and it can become frustrating to restrain yourselves, but, you don’t have to follow everything religiously. You can try and make a habit out of the aforementioned and spoil yourselves once in a while. That way, the next payday will not even seem so far away!
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