A really important skill to have as a graduate is to learn how to budget. It is important to make sure you can get by on the money that you do have. I also want to save for a rainy day and so try to save as much as I can from my wages each month. This article explores some of the tips that I use to budget/save money each month.
Keep track of what you are spending
We have all had the shock of checking your bank balance and realising you have a lot less money than you thought you had. This can be a huge issue as it means that you might be spending money you don’t actually have. To avoid this problem I make sure that I keep track of the money that I’m spending each month.
There are a lot of ways to keep track of your money. A simply way to do this is to keep a notebook with you at all times and keep a note of all of your outgoings to avoid a nasty surprise when you check your balance. There are also a lot of apps that help you keep track of what you are spending on your phone. Another simple trick is to take a certain amount of money out of the bank in cash each week. For example, you could set yourself a budget of £50 for the week and only buy things in cash. That way you know exactly what money you have left of your budget and you tend to be more careful when you have to spend cash.
Fail to plan, plan to fail. Seriously, when you do not have a plan of what you are going to spend your money on that’s where problems start to build up. I am guilty of doing lots of small food shops on my way home from work which tends to lead to a lot of waste. The best way to do food shops, in my opinion, is to plan your meals in advance. To avoid waste make sure that you freeze items that can be frozen. If you freeze whole meals this also makes you less tempted to buy an expensive takeaway because you’re feeling too lazy to cook after work.
Planning goes for everything though. Plan how much money you want to spend on socialising that month. Plan in advance if you have friends/family members birthdays coming up that you need to save up for. Plan for everything.
Be super picky with the things that you do buy. There are so many price comparison websites out there that there is no excuse not to get the best deals. Even if you see a great holiday package that looks like a good deal make sure to shop around and check that you aren’t missing out on an even better deal!
The art of being picky is especially useful for utilities and the like. Make sure you are getting the best broadband, insurance, gas etc. deals.
Wants vs. Needs
If you are on a really tight budget I find that it is best to think about what you want against what you need. Sometimes, it can be really difficult to differentiate between the two. I do sometimes feel like I need a huge takeaway or a new dress for a night out. Usually, I just want these things though.
If you stick to just the things you need for a couple of months you will soon start to see your savings pile up. For example, instead of buying that new dress for a night out you could wear the dress you brought a couple of months ago and have only worn once.
Budgeting can be difficult but it is definitely worth it not to be in your overdraft (if you still have one!) at the end of every month with no savings. Obviously, treat yourself when you feel like it with the money you work hard for but don’t go over the top if you can’t afford it.