But that's no reason not to give it another go, and if one of your aims for this year was to get better with your finances, then that’s a goal really worth achieving. Here The Money Charity writes a guest blog for us with some tips on how to get in control of your cash.
New Year, new habits. Whether it’s your first or final year at uni, January is always a great time to review your spending habits and get on top of your money. Do you really want to spend another year worrying about your overdraft or suffering FOMO because you can’t afford that big night out?
Being in control of your finances really doesn’t have to be hard work: you just need to plan ahead. Live by our 10 handy tips for managing your money and you’ll be well on the way to making the most of your cash while studying:
Money management is just another reality of life. If you spend a bit of time ironing out a system of dealing with it, life is a lot easier. Try putting up a calendar on the fridge (next to that cleaning rota that no-one sticks to!) with all of the dates your bills are due, and the amounts which needs to be put towards them – then tick them off when they’ve been paid. Simples!
Awareness is key
Do you know how much money you have in your account? It’s important to keep tabs on your balance as you go, so there isn’t a nasty surprise later on! Most banks appreciate the importance of instant information and offer things like balance texts and mobile apps.
Your ‘real’ balance
When you have money delivered to your account in lump sums, it may feel like you’re suddenly outlandishly rich! But take a minute to stop and work out how long your money has to last you and what your expenses are. It might not be time for a shopping spree after all.
Priorities are an important part of anyone’s money management plan, but basic needs should always be on top - you’re less important ‘wants’ should be the last spending priority.
When planning activities and making other spending choices, it’s important to be honest with yourself about what you can afford and what your friends can afford as well.
Part of any well-crafted budget is an element of flexibility. Your spending might fluctuate from one month to the next, but if you allow for some variation, you can remain on track a little bit more easily. Things often cost a bit more than you originally anticipate, so allow for this in your budget.
If you get in the habit of saving (even a small amount) each month, you’ll be ready for unanticipated costs (like buying an extra text book, or having an unusually high energy bill). Even if you manage to put away a mere £15 per month, you’ll have a bit of a safety net to fall back on. Best of all, you probably won’t even notice that little bit you put away each month and you’ll be thanking yourself later.
Don’t drain your account
Just because you have some money left in your account after paying your expenses and saving a little, it doesn’t mean you have to get your account all the way down to zero. Every little bit you can save will benefit you later on when those surprise costs arise!
Don’t overdo it
Just like a diet, if you try to deprive yourself too much you will find it much harder to stick to in the long term! Find a balance between saving and the occasional treat such as that bottle of wine or trip to cinema.
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Remember: getting into good habits and attitudes about money management takes repetition, not genius maths skills. If you want to get into good habits now, follow these guidelines and use the free tools available to you to help you out! Take a look at our Spendometer and our online Budget Builder to help you get started and stay on track. You can do it, it just takes practice!
For more information on managing your money at university and beyond, visit The Money Charity's student section, or download the full Student Moneymanual 2014.