Struggling to make ends meet? Cathy Lee gives us her top tips to manage your money and control your savings.
We’re always told about saving for that “rainy day” occurrence. It’s something that’s planted into our minds from an early age, from pocket money to cashing in for birthdays or special events. I agree with saving for the rainy day and rightly so, considering that you might not have an influx of money in the near future. But sometimes, with the money demands that come with being a student, it can feel like it’s always overcast and the rainy day is happening constantly, just above our heads.
Never fear, these challenges can be tackled with a small bit of planning and some self control. Before I get into this, I will say that it isn’t very good to live your life in fear of spending. What I’ve learned is that with each purchase or investment we make, we must decide on how worthwhile the action is that we’re taking. Start with devising in your mind whether the thing is a 'want' or a 'need', like a form of pro or con list. At the end of the day, every time we make a purchase we are making a choice whether something is worth it or not, in terms of parting with your money.
However, with your income, the money comes with responsibility attached. It can easily enough become something scarce when not handled or managed properly. A smart way to go about spending less is to get yourself well set up to deal with the unexpected. There are some great apps out there for money management which are worth a try for sure. But what I’ve found most useful is having two accounts to work off; one as a spending and one as a saving account.
It’s not really that much of a hassle, it just divides your funds more fairly so you can attempt to stay on top of things, having something to fall back on if you really need it. I think there’s something built in us to love spending money, I don’t really know of anybody who doesn’t partake in the act. But I think surrounding yourself with people who you know may entice you to spend can sometimes be an act of harm. But this doesn’t have to be a thing you avoid if you put a bit of planning into it.
If you’ve arranged to meet a friend out somewhere, say a café or restaurant – familiarise yourself beforehand with the price range of the place. How much are you willing to spend here? What’s your budget? For me, budgets and weekly expenses can fluctuate. I’ll have more money in if I get more hours at work but I won’t if that doesn’t come together.
So what do I do? Lock myself away from the world if there isn’t a certain amount in my account? No. I would say, always do the thing if at all possible, but think ahead of what you might need to draw in on and make sure you keep your wits to do that. Plan out what the likely expenses will be and see if there are alternatives to these in the situation. This can be applied to any sort of social event when you really give it some thought.
Student life can bring with it huge pressures, from money to exams and really the balance is sometimes impossible to get right. Should you get more hours at work or in the library this week? It’s hard to know. So I’d say if you’re really stuck, don’t be afraid to go for the student loan option, be that from a bank or another source. We all place value on our degrees and if a loan is what you need to get that done, so be it. Grants are great things and should be thoroughly appreciated but when it’s a tough time financially, do what you have to do.