Many of us have mental barriers that stop us from taking the time to make a budget. Maybe we think it’s boring, or maybe we think “that’s for adulting, and we’re just not ready for that yet”. It could be as simple as just not knowing where to start. It might seem like a chore, but there are so many advantages in keeping a budget. Two major advantages are that it helps to:

(A) Reduce surprises by helping to identify and plan for intentional spending. For example, college registration fees.

(B) It helps to build good saving habits for things like trips, or other discretionary spending. For example, a long weekend away, or a concert or foreign trip (when all these things are possible again in the future!)

Budgeting helps to reduce stress and anxiety because of potential overspending, or not being able to do the things we would like to do because money is not available (Wait, what? I’m sure I had a tenner yesterday!)

What exactly is a budget & why should I use one?

A budget is a great way to keep an eye on your spending and check what money you have coming in. A budget will help you quickly see your anticipated income (money coming in) and planned expenses (your money going out). A budget will also help you plan how much you can put aside for that planned trip. It’s easy to do – you can do it the old school way of pen & paper or download our MABS budgeting app for IOS or Android. It can be done weekly, monthly or yearly. All you have to do is calculate the money you have (or expect) coming in and list the different expenses you have that week/month/year. Typical student costs include public transport (bus/Luas/Dart fare), books, phone credit or rent/bills (if you are in student accommodation), food shop and a big one, college registration fees! 

How we can help

Creating a budget does not have to be a dreaded task. Instead, it is a useful tool which will allow you to take control of your money. If you need help creating your budget or downloading the MABS app, we are here to help on our online chat or simply request a callback

Read more about creating a well-balanced budget and discover our household budget excel which can be used as a template! Don’t forget – it is also important to include some ‘me time’ or treats in your budget, such as takeaways or Netflix. As a student it’s important to enjoy yourself too. These ‘treats’ are known as ‘wants’ instead of ‘needs’. Let’s dive into this in more detail.

Do I need it, or do I just want it? How budgeting can help to fulfil your needs and achieve your wants.

What is the difference between a need and a want? This is something everyone struggles with, no matter what age you are. Knowing the difference between the two will help you look after your wallet. 

You may find that many of your ‘needs’ are transport costs, food, clothing, accommodation etc. Always make sure that your basic needs are paid for before looking at ‘wants’. 

Bonus tip – Planning ahead means that you can set aside money for needs that you know will happen throughout the month. This helps to reduce anxiety.

Your ‘wants’ can vary from luxury clothing to nights out or travel/holidays. The below tips will help you to understand the difference between what you really need right now and the luxuries that can wait.  

5 top tips for budgeting to achieve your goals:

  1. Understand the difference: Once you know what your immediate needs are and what can wait to be purchased in the future – you’re off to a great start! 
  2. Categorise your needs/wants: Divide your needs into low & high priority and do the same for your wants. This will help you set immediate and future financial goals. 
  3. Appreciate what you have: Once you become better at differentiating between needs and wants, you’ll probably see that you’ve been able to fulfill more of your desires over the years than you realized.  
  4. Start saving: Now that you understand what financial costs can wait, start saving for them! Put aside some money every week or month (if you can afford to), and soon this will build up. Your ‘want’ or luxury purchase could be made sooner than you think. 
  5. Ask for help: If you aren’t sure how to cover the costs of your needs or how to start saving for your wants, our MABS professionals can provide further tips and expert advice. Money is difficult to manage, no matter your age, so don’t be afraid to reach out. 

Do you have money saving tricks to share with your fellow students? Perhaps you have a life-skill that you live by that helps you keep control on your money. Let us know on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using #MABSStudentCents. We’d love to hear your ideas. Don’t forget to follow us too at @MABSInfo for more top tips!

MABS is funded and supported by the Citizens Information Board.