To Budget Or Not To Budget?
Chances are that at some point you’ve been told that budgeting at uni is very useful and you may have seen many examples of a student budget. However, I’m here to tell you about my experience of not using one:
First and foremost, creating a budget is only effective as long as you’re committed to sticking to it. I know people who have made budgets but tend to ignore them, which completely defeats the object of making one in the first place. The only thing motivating you to stick to one is yourself, only you can provide incentive.
I’m personally glad that I haven’t made one as there have been too many unexpected costs that I would not have accounted for in my budget. These mainly arise from society or sports club costs such as competition fees or if you decide to go on tour or attend several balls. Not budgeting also allows a more spontaneous lifestyle. Don’t be the friend that says, ‘Oh I can’t go out for a meal with you because I’ve already spent my allocated £12.50 this week’. You’ll have a far more fun social life if you spend money where you think is appropriate, rather than sticking exactly to a tight budget.
I also just didn’t feel the need to make one. My mum said that living a uni would be expensive but that if I had the money to do something I wanted to do, I should do it. At the end of the day, you’re going to look back at the amazing memories you made at uni, not how much money you saved. Don’t look back and regret not doing something because you didn’t want to spend money.
In my opinion, budgeting can sometimes just be a solution to having an unhealthy mindset of wanting to spend money. Having the judgement and sense to spend money on only things that you believe are worthwhile is a far more effective and long-term solution to money problems, than forcing yourself to stick to what your spreadsheet tells you to do. You may not have the experience to make these judgements at first, but hopefully after a few weeks or months you’ll learn what you really need to buy when you go to the supermarket or whether buying an alcoholic drink tonight is really worth it or whether you really need those new shoes you saw online.
On the other hand, some people make fantastic budgets and I’m in awe of how well they’re able to stick to them without compromising their quality of life. So, while in my experience budgeting is unnecessary, if you think it will work for you then go for it! Just make sure you factor in A LOT of extra money each week/month for hidden costs. Before you come to uni, perhaps research the costs of joining and being an active member of some of the societies or sports clubs you may be thinking about joining so you can factor those in. What high-cost events do they have that you may need to put aside money for? Joining a sports club is very expensive at the beginning of the year, make sure you factor this into your budget.
Budgeting is necessary for organisations when planning events and I do have experience in this, however if you’re looking for more tips on creating a student budget, I suggest asking someone who has actually made one and stuck to it. Again, this is just my experience and different things work for different people.