Keeping Track of Your Money
Good money management involves having control of your money, although it is not uncommon to spend more than you earn, especially if your income is low. The best way to keep track of your money is to prepare an on-going budget. The Budgeting section of this website will help you. Other ways of assessing your financial situation follow.
Debt is stressful and expensive and the following sections give information on how to avoid and address it.
- Are you uncertain exactly how much money you owe?
- Have you put off visiting the dentist, buying a prescription or an important book or an essential item because you can't afford them?
- Do you usually pay your bills late?
- Are you constantly borrowing money from friends or relatives?
- Are you using more and more of your income to pay debts?
- Is your income running out by the end of each week or fortnight?
- Are you paying only the minimum amount on your loans or credit cards each month?
- Are you at or over the limit on your credit cards?
If you answered yes to any of the questions you should definitely be budgeting! If you answered yes to more than 2 of the questions, financial difficulties are already here or on the way and serious money management is essential.
Keep track of your costs for a month. Write them all down in a notebook which you can designate as your ‘spending diary’. At the end of the month divide the costs into categories (groceries, lunch, tram fares etc.) and total them. The results will give you a 'real life' indication of what is costing you money and where your money is going.
You will then be able to consider which expenses are possibly a 'waste of cash' and how to reduce these.
Timing Your Expenditure
Sadly you may have to consider some sacrifices to help you at least 'balance the budget'. Maybe for one week a month, or 2 - 3 days each week you should establish 'low cost time-zones'.
Time periods when you have a quiet time studying, or with friends - eat-in, borrow videos from one of the libraries on campus, see how cheaply you can make a good meal, limit your travel (walk where possible), find some free entertainment (galleries, festivals, etc), make your lunch, etc.
It is possible to have an enjoyable time without spending much, and it will relieve budget stress. There is no direct correlation between cost and enjoyment.