Budgeting is the process of planning, tracking and revising your spending.
Apps, templates, spreadsheets
There are apps like Mint that offer easy ways to begin budgeting. Enrolment Services also has templates and a cost calculator available on its website for getting started. Some people may find that they are more comfortable using a spreadsheet, although it may lack some of the features that other options offer such as integration with banking.
Effective budgeting begins by planning your future expenses. This involves thinking about your main expenses such as rent, tuition, food and phone plans. It helps to break down your costs into categories like consumables, activities, textbooks, groceries, eating out and any other categories that are applicable to you.
The next step to successful budgeting is to keep track of your spending. You won’t be able to tell if you’re over budget if you don’t know how much you’ve spent. Checking bank statements or using apps to scan your receipts are easy ways to keep up.
Are monthly subscription services over running your budget? You might decide to drop some. The end stage is seeing what changes need to happen in planning and spending and acting on them.
Everyone’s spending is going to be different. Some are going to have bigger budgets and weigh each category differently. For example, you might choose to commute and save on rent or live on campus and take up some part-time work.
Don’t forget to leave some money in the budget to do things that improve your mood! Fun activities can be low-cost such as going hiking. There are also museums and gardens on campus with free admission, just show your student ID.
SAVING: EMERGENCIES, DEBT, TAX
Building an emergency savings of three to six months is recommended. It provides a buffer when late paycheques, sickness or unexpected expenses happen.
Debt & interest
Pay off credit card debt before saving. The cost of credit card interest will eat up any returns that you get from your savings.
You should always file your tax return. Did you know that if you have scholarships, grants and bursaries, you must declare it as income? If your income is less than the provincial and federal tax deduction, you may be eligible to receive a tax refund. Some options to file include online, mail, H&R and the UBC Tax Assistance Clinic.