Money Matters: Top Tips for Budgeting and Saving

Written by Carolina Rosa, Year 5

with an introduction by Sophia Terry

The steep learning curve of financial independence hits many of us when we leave home for the first time. Suddenly thrown in at the deep end, the idea of stretching a measly student loan to cover the weekly shop, travel costs, rent and social events can seem daunting. The last thing you might want to do after a busy day of firms or lectures is to open up Excel and realise your weekly Poppy’s II order is costing you more than just clear skin. If you find yourself dipping into your overdraft and dining on instant ramen more often than you care to admit, you might want to start taking notes.

With the growing success of her Instagram page, @thehustlingmedic, Carolina Rosa can help you tighten those purse strings. Here are her top tips for managing your money:

  1. Read your statements. When was the last time you sat down and looked through your bank statement? Not sure? It’s the best place to start. Login to your online banking and read your most recent statement. Identify where you spent your money this month. This will help you to see your spending habits in action and subsequently enable you to establish a target for reducing your spending. Everyone has different “weaknesses”: different items, times or places that might tempt them to loosen their wallet a bit more. For example, you may realise that you spend way more on Wednesday nights than you thought, or that your snack breaks during firms are adding up. By scouring your bank statement and identifying these “weaknesses”, you can set a specific target for budgeting. Rather than trying to spend less in general, you will have a defined target which you are much more likely to achieve. Check your statements as often as you like – maybe every month to monitor your progress, or even once a term. It’s up to you – but checking once or twice is better than never!
  2. Stop impulse buying. When you go grocery or clothes shopping, plan what it is you need to buy and stick to the list. Don’t succumb to buying things spontaneously. If you had needed to buy that item, it would have been on your list. If it’s not on your list, you probably don’t need it – so to budget well, resist the temptation!
  3. Use multiple bank accounts. Use one bank account for your savings/income/the bulk of your money and a separate account for the money you’re allowing yourself to spend, i.e. your budget. If your budget is £100 per week, setting up a standing order between your main account and spending account can help you stick to this. By having a separate account that automatically tops up by £100 every Monday, then only using that card when you’re out and about, you will instantly know whether you’re spending too much just by looking at your balance. You don’t need complex calculations to see how much you have left to spend – just read the number on the screen and see you have £30 left to get you through the weekend!
  4. Set a cooling off period. If you feel you want to buy something, perhaps some new trainers or a dress, force yourself to wait two weeks before making the purchase. Screenshot the item on your phone and have a think about whether you really need it. If after two weeks you’re still convinced you love and need those shoes, then allow yourself to buy them. Most of the time you’ll realise two weeks later that you weren’t as keen on them as you initially thought.
  5. Match what you spend. If you want to take your savings to the next level, challenge yourself to do this: every time you spend on an item, invest the same amount. For example, for every penny you spend on alcohol, invest that same amount at the end of the month. Or, for every penny you spent at Zara, you must invest that same amount. This is probably the simplest and most effective way to start saving towards your future! 
  6. Understand “opportunity cost”. Let’s say you spend £300 on something. That £300 you spend has an associated “opportunity cost” on top of the initial £300 price tag. Not only do you lose the £300 you paid, you also lose out on all the income you could have made if you had, for example, invested that money instead! Had you invested the £300 in the stock market, it could have been worth £400 a couple of years later – meaning the item cost you £400, not £300.
  7. Don’t negotiate with yourself. When you decide a percentage of your income or a set sum to save each month, force yourself to stick to it. This applies to anything that requires discipline in your life. To get into the habit of working out, it may be easier to start by making it non-negotiable and working out every day. Be strict with yourself and stop making excuses. It’s the same with budgeting!

Make sure to follow @thehustlingmedic for more advice on personal development, managing your finances and investing your savings.

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