My banking app has a new feature called money manager which highlights income and expenses and make little pie charts and bar charts. I had a look at the last three months of account history for last year and I honestly did not realise how much I had been spending. As the title suggests, my entire October paycheck went towards a new laptop after my old one that just reached its 7th birthday officially gave up on me. This was very shocking because I know budgets are tight for nearly everyone during the pandemic and so part of my 2021 resolutions include getting my finances in order and so far, I have hit my January and February savings goals and already on my way to March.
Money has always been something that worries me and even more when starting university. Right now, I work in the retail industry, I tutor younger students for GCSE and A-Level, and I am a student ambassador for Imperial. Splitting up my income into different jobs sounds very hectic but in fact, is actually very low pressure and gives me a chance to mix it up. Sometime when I’m working, I don’t want to think I just want something repetitive so I can just float along in my own mind (but make money at the same time) and other times I want to be more engaged with what I am doing and have it aligned with my future aspirations.
Budgeting is something that I have not found to be particularly restrictive, I just use it as a tool to be more aware and more in control of where my money is going. If I want to buy more skincare or a book or get food delivered, I will, but I will not be shocked at the end of the month at my bank balance.
I would recommend getting an expense tracker if you banking app does not offer one and have a look at the way you spend. Apps like Yolt, Cleo, Mint and YNAB are very helpful in getting on a budget. And if you are not the bullet journaling type, a good old-fashioned Excel spread sheet works well too. I keep one with a yearly overview, then monthly spreads that include regular income and expenses like bills and income from work and irregular income and expenses from side hustles and spending money. I also keep track of whether I meet my monthly goals. You can find templates for free online or mess around on Excel for an hour to personalise your own.
Being analytical about my money habits has taught me to be more intentional with where my money goes. Do I really need or even want that thing right now? Will I want it in a month? Can I really afford that? It has made me a lot more comfortable with the money I have and secure with the money I know I will get in the future.
Applying for scholarships is way many students help themselves with the expenses that will come with being independent and perhaps living alone. There are a lot of scholarships that go unclaimed so apply to as many as you can!
Another money tip I have picked up is getting in the habit to check my account more frequently to avoid scams and having a higher chance of getting money back if you do.
Trying out no spend weekends or weeks has saved my budget (obviously lockdown does have a lot to do with that, but online shopping is my weakness right now) as long as you don’t go crazy and splurge when it’s over.
A small tip I also integrated is using round ups to the next pound whenever I spend on my card and put that into investments and at the end of the month you’ll notice you have been saving with having to even think about it. Moneybox is a great app you can use to do this.
Some resources I use to keep me inspired about my finances are ‘The Break’ which is a platform on YouTube and Instagram with helpful and motivational posts about finance. @thepennypal is also another great Instagram account. Aja Dang has a financial series on YouTube about paying off 200,000 dollars of student loans that I found very motivating.
I do watch random cash stuffing videos in my spare time because watching other people be disciplined and work towards a financial goal can help keep me accountable. Plus wondering if that girl saves up enough to finally get a kitten is enough to keep me thinking about my own goals. ‘Caught Off Guard’ is a pretty interesting podcast with a series of conversations around money and success but tread carefully not all episodes are geared towards those themes. I’m still on the look out for a good podcast I enjoy for students interested in finance, so if I find one I’ll let you know!
Good luck to everyone trying to do better with finance this year!