Creating a Realistic Budget for YOU in Post-Secondary
By Gavin Mercier
So, you’ve graduated high school, or are going to. So you’ve moved to away to school, or maybe you’re staying home. So you’re living alone for the first time ever, or maybe you have a roommate. So you’ve saved up for this moment, or maybe you haven’t. So you’ve got a job, or maybe you don’t need one or don’t have time for one. So you’ve taken a student loan, or got a scholarship, or applied for bursaries, or maybe your parents are paying your tuition. Whatever your situation is, it’s important manage your money in post-secondary. However, whatever your situation is, it is unique. There isn’t an easy way to budget your money that works for everybody. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t an easy way to budget for you.
The very first thing you should do is to take a look at your essential expenses – things that you can’t live without. If you’re paying for rent, that is going to be your most important expense – and your biggest. However, no matter what happens, you will be glad to have a roof over your head.
Next, food. According to Statscanada, the average Canadian spends around $250 per month on food and drink. That is a lot of money, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend that. Look at what you can afford, and more importantly, what you need. You might have to give up those fancy foods expensive snacks for a while, or at least until they go on sale. Only buy what you need, and try your best to eat it before it goes bad. That way, you don’t waste money buying food that is just going to spoil.
Next, look at how much money you make or is being provided for you. Weigh that amount against your essential expenses. Ideally you should have more income than expenses. If this isn’t the case, consider cutting down on a few things or getting a job (if you don’t have one already.)
So, you know how much money you have to spend each month, but what about money that you want to spend? Post-secondary isn’t a time to count nickels and stay inside all the time; it’s supposed to be one of the best times of your life! See what you have left over after paying your essentials, and use that money on your lifestyle – paying for your phone, hobbies, or going out. Don’t be afraid to spend a little money to have fun, just make sure you don’t overdo it. Keep track of how much money you have and try only taking what you need when you go out. That way, you can avoid spending more money than you mean to. Finally, try not to spend all of your leftover money. Try putting a little bit away each month in case of emergencies. This way, you have a safety net if you slip up, and extra money for your own financial goals in the future.
Budgeting money isn’t easy. It takes time and effort to create a good budget plan that works, and everyone is different. Make sure that your budget fits what you need, and not the other way around. Your budget shouldn’t determine the lifestyle you live, but you should be prepared to make some sacrifices in order to make a budget the fits with your lifestyle.