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Living to a budget

Money managing can be difficult and stressful, especially when you have a million other worries on your plate. Creating a budget can help you get you on track for financial peace of mind

Unfortunately, most student nurses are no strangers to financial difficulties. Juggling course costs, loans and living expenses with your busy schedule, it’s not always an option to take a part-time job to lighten your financial load. But fear not. Smart and careful planning can take away some of the stress, and help you get a grasp on where your money is going.

Why budget?

Creating a budget can be beneficial for a wide variety of reasons. It can help you cut unnecessary spending, keep an eye on how much you have going out of your account, and prompt you to save money for unforeseen expenses. Budgeting also can take off a lot of the stress that comes with money issues and give you a better understanding of your spending habits.

Budgeting is a good habit to develop early on, as it will help you to keep track of your financial comings and goings and avoid falling into a trap of overspending and debt.

A budget is also a great way to save money. By allotting yourself a set amount to spend each week, you can also allot a set amount to put away into your savings – money you will be able to fall back on when unexpected costs arise.

Working out your personal budget

The first task when creating a personal budget is to figure out how much money you have coming in. Create a list of all your income sources, totalling the amounts. Try to avoid including any sources that are inconsistent, such as birthday or holiday gifts, as they will give you an inaccurate representation of your average income.

Your next task is to figure out how much money you spend. Make a list of all your expenses – start with bills (rent, credit cards, insurance, etc.), then estimate day-to-day expenses (food, petrol, clothing, etc.) followed by occasional costs (holidays, doctor visits, car repairs, etc). Use this list to figure out how much you spend each week, and what you spend it on.

Feeling confused? There are several budget calculators online that are great guides to ensure you are covering all areas of income and expenditures. Try checking out:http://www.moneymadeclear.org.uk/tools/budget_planner.html

Next, subtract your total expenditures from your income to determine whether you have money to spare or if you are overspending.

If you find that you are overspending, look over your list of expenditures and determine where you can cut costs. Prioritise your expenses, allotting money for bills and other fixed expenses then setting a goal for day-to-day costs. When setting these goals, consider ways that you may be overspending unnecessarily. Are you buying name brands when you could be buying generic? Eating out too often? Cut out a few luxuries and get creative with your spending until you have a budget that seems reasonable to you.

Sticking to it

After creating your budget, it is important to make sure you stick to it. Consider carrying a notebook with you to keep track of all your expenses, and set aside a time at the end of week to review it and adjust your budget or spending accordingly.

If you find yourself struggling to keep to your planned budget, it may be a sign that you need to re-evaluate. Look over your expenses again and search for places you can make cuts. Brainstorm creative solutions to lower your spending – such as shopping around for the lowest prices for gas, electric, or telephone costs. Consider cutting your spending down to the bare essentials for a short while, until you are able to stabilise your finances. 

Make sure the budget you set for yourself is realistic. Don’t get too frustrated if you struggle the first few weeks. It’s difficult to predict spending habits, and will take time for you to create a budget that works for you.

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