Whether it’s saving for a vacation or paying your bills on time, a budget can help you spend your money wisely. Here are a few helpful tips from the Counselling and Development Centre at Concordia to help you design a budget suited to your needs.
Identify your goals
Set for yourself short-term and long-term goals. Make sure they are realistic and specific. Overly ambitious goals might discourage you, while vague ones will probably never be achieved. For example, you might want to reduce your debt or buy a new laptop. But make sure you are flexible so you can handle unexpected setbacks.
Prepare a written budget
A written budget consists of your income and your expenses. Search the Web for a prepared budget form or visit the Counseling and Development Centre for help. If you’re really ambitious, you can also take a finance class such as FINA 200. To begin your budget, calculate your income. This includes loans, bursaries, salary and financial support from your parents. Divide your income by month so you know exactly how much money you have coming. Now for the less exciting part: your expenses. This means listing big items such as tuition fees and smaller ones like personal expenses. If you live on your own, add up your rent and utility bills and if you smoke, figure out how many packs you buy per month. Don’t forget to include your goals in your expenses and figure out about how much you need to save each month to achieve it.
Now calculate your balance by subtracting your monthly expenses from your monthly income. Are you overspending and putting yourself in debt? If so, you should consult a financial advisor, especially if you’re having trouble meeting your credit card payments or tuition.
Log your transactions
Start a journal of your daily transactions. This means writing down all of your purchases from cafeteria lunches to coffee. Once you’ve analyzed your spending pattern for a few weeks, you can effectively identify where you can cut down. Counseling and Development councillor Marc L