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Monday, 6 September 2010

How I Have Money Even Though I'm A Student

The cliche of a student life is one with dirty laundry, no money, living off pasta and take aways and generally slouching around doing not a whole lot.  While my laudry pile has been, on occasion, gastronomically high, I eat a lot of pasta and take aways and can't vouch for what I do everyday - I do have money.

I'm not talking millions at my disposal, I certainly couldn't buy a house or anything, I am talking enough to live on comfortably and buy the things I need with occasional treats for myself.  I don't have a job, nor a mysterious benefactor - I have a student loan.  If you want to argue that this money isn't really mine because it's a loan this may not be the post for you as I personally don't see it as debt.  Sure, I have to pay it off but not until I'm capable of paying it off.  But back on track.  I have a student loan.  This is my income.

So how do I manage to still have money in my bank account at the end of summer?  I plan.  It really is that simple.  I know how much money I have.  I know how long that money has to last.  And I know how much I have to pay (rent, bills).  The point is - I know exactly (okay, so maybe not exactly) how much money I have to spend on food and going out and anything else I might want.

I don't force myself to go without things - if I really really want something I will find a way to be able to buy it, even if it means not having money for anything else for a month.  Actually when you know you won't be able to buy any more food or be able to go out if you buy that special something, it's amazing how quickly you can decide that you don't really want it.  The key here is moderation.  It's like chocolate.  The moment you tell yourself you can't have any you'll want it much much more until you break and eat a lot of bars of the stuff which then leaves you feeling guilty and generally down on yourself.  If you allow yourself to have a little chocolate regularly you feel better as you're able to stick to your resolution and with any luck the pounds will disappear (or walk away if you're on Doctor Who).  Knowing that you have money that you can spend works the same way.  The moment you tell yourself not to buy anything you will inevitably fail and land yourself in the trouble you were avoiding.  If you're worried that you will overspend, a trick I use is to take out a set amount of money each week and that is all you have for the rest of the week (I take out between £30-50 depending on what I think I'll need and how much money I have left).

And my final point is HAVE SAVINGS.  Seriously, if you don't have a savings account - get one.  And then put money in it every time you get paid/your loans come through.  Make sure you leave enough in your regular account for however long you need it as the idea is that you won't ever touch your savings account.  That way when you have an emergency you don't need to panic as you have back-up money right there waiting for you.  Or else you might want to save for a house.  It's up to you but a savings account is very important, particularly if you're not good with money.  It can save you a lot of pain and trust me, you'll feel a sense of pride as you watch your money grow each year (even if there is barely any interest, it's amazing what difference £10 a month will make to your bank balance.

What tips or tricks do you have to keep money from wandering out of your pocket?

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