As a student, balancing your money can be one of the hardest things to learn, keep on doing, and do well. Living alone for the first time can lead to countless late-night cramming sessions with a trusty double-cheese pizza or one-too-many beers out with your friends to procrastinate instead of writing your paper (Don’t lie. You know you’ve done it.) Not to mention those expensive study-guides and textbooks that get you through your exams and cost you a (small) fortune. For some people, remembering their income and what they spend their money on just like that is easy. For some, it’s a bit trickier. One of the best and most fool-proof ways of sticking with your budget is keeping a budgeting journal. It’s all in one place, easy to reach for, and easy to make.
Whether you add this to your notes on your phone or use a notebook just for budgeting, here’s a really simple guide on how to create a budgeting journal and steps to make you the ultimate budgeting mastermind!
Since you'll likely be updating your expenses nearly everyday, try to invest in a sturdy and long-lasting budgeting journal, like Jofelo Leather Journals. This may be a bit pricy but it'll save you in the long run.
First of all, a company like Jofelo offers refillable journals. This means that after completing your budgeting period, whether it be a quarter or a year, you can remove the pages and start a new journal. Second, imagine recording half a year of expenses then having your journal break. How fun do you think transferring all of your expenses into another journal? It's not, trust me. Jofelo, for example, uses sturdy leather to ensure your journal never lets you down so you can continue to budget happily.
1) Formatting your budgeting journal
Okay, first things first: do you want to track your income monthly or weekly? Normally, monthly is easier since income usually comes in the form of some kind of monthly payment (but it’s your choice: whatever is easier for you). If you choose weekly, you will need to repeat these steps approximately four times (for the four weeks in a month). If you choose monthly, you only have to do it once.
2) Know your income
Do you work or receive a fixed amount of money each month/week? Use that as your guideline and note down this amount.
3) What are your fixed expenses
If you pay rent, utilities, or any other fixed expenses these should be subtracted from your income directly so that you can see how much of your income you can actually spend on other things like food or stuff you do in your free time.
Now how much is left of your income?
4) Split up the money that is left, or set some aside
You might want to set aside a certain amount of money for things like food, textbooks, or a nice trip to Barcelona (if you save your money right). Then, you might have an amount left over to spend on other, maybe more unplanned or random, things.
Obviously, it’s not always easy to say you have, for example, 150 euros to spend on buying groceries, since you don’t always know if you can spend exactly 150 or less every single month. But that’s why you should assign a reasonable amount of money to food shopping (don’t think you can spend only 20 euros a month on food, when you clearly can’t). Also, if you have enough money set aside for your ‘unplanned or random things’, you can always use up that cash for other necessities.
Still with me? Okay, awesome, on to the next step!
5) Track your purchases
This is where the commitment gets super serious. What did you buy, when did you buy it, and how much did it cost? This can take a while to get used to since a) it means you need to remember what you bought or keep all your receipts and b) do it every day!
There are tons of ways to save money like making your lunches at home. So while you are tracking what you buy you can try to save as much as is reasonable!
Can you handle it? Of course you can!
6) Total your money spent and see how much money you saved!
Now obviously the above is just an example. You have to tailor it to your personal spending habits. But what matters is that this simple budgeting plan is quick and effective. Most importantly, it physically shows you your expenses! Yeah, it may take a few days to get the hang of it and remember to log your daily purchases in your budgeting journal but it’s worth it. It also definitely takes you on a guilt trip if you have to log all those previously mentioned calls to Domino’s Pizza…
Want to find out more tips and tricks about being a student? Check out our Getting Started Section to find out more about how you can best survive as a student.