In our milieu, students always have the tendency of asking this question, “where did my money go?” and when it comes to finances, the problem of money management is almost a no problem. It’s so common that many have considered it to be normal. If you’re looking for a way to get yourself out of the financial mess you are into, a simple budget can be a step to your breakthrough. What is a budget in the first place, a budget is an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time. Listed below are some of the reasons why I think you should start budgeting

Importance of budgeting

  • Many students tend to notice they spend money on petty things so budgeting allows them to adjust spending habits and put money towards meaningful areas.
  • Plan for the unexpected so that the unexpected will come to be expected.
  • Sends red lights when your projected budget is more than your income.

Now if those reasons convinced you enough, you should be asking yourself now how you can make a good budget. Following these steps below will set you on a good pace.

*please note that the steps below are addressed mostly to students who receive a regular monthly income or pocket allowance.

5 steps to make an effective budget

  • For one month keep track of all your expenses: take note of how much cash you had at start of the month (This includes your pocket allowance and tips from relatives, friends ),how much you spent at end of month and how much you have left over.
  • After the first month take stock of what you spent: write down what you actually spent (expenditure) in details and categorize your expenditure in a way that makes sense to you. Begin with your fixed expenses such as tithes, monthly contributions. Then proceed with variable expenses such as gas, groceries. For example

For a monthly income of 20 000 frs

Tithes                      2000

Savings                   2000

Gas                           6500

Groceries                5000

Transport                 2000

Offerings                 500

Handouts                500

  • Set your goals: these could be short term goals like saving for a textbook or long term goals like saving for a future car. Knowing your priorities in life will help you make a better budget. For example it will be easier for you to cut spending if your goal is to pay debts.
  • Now write down your actual budget: based on your knowledge of your spending history, budget out how much of your income you want to allocate to each category every month.
  • Adjust your spending habits: looking at your budget, if you notice that you are spending more than you are earning, you might need to consider adjusting your habits. In doing this, focus more on your needs than wants. For example you might want to start cooking rather than eating at restaurants and if you really have to eat out why not go to a cheaper restaurant. The money you spend on internet bundles is not worth it if all you do is flex on social media. You might also decide to look for more ways to earn more maybe a part time job but it all depends on you. You know yourself better, just be honest. To be disciplined is not easy but at the end you’ll be very proud of yourself.
  • Keep track of your budget over time: it’s important that you review your budget on a regular basis to ensure that you’re on track. The hard part is your expenses may change from month to month for example your gas might get finish making your expenses for that month way more than your expenses during the previous month. But the great part is that, you will be able to keep track of the changes, giving you an accurate idea of where your money is going to.

 

How to allocate your monthly income

This isn’t a formula but rather a suggestion. Meaning it all depends on you ( i.e. your responsibilities, priorities, etc). The main thing is your budget should reflect your lifestyle. A practical example includes

 

Tithes                            10%

Savings                          10-15%

Food, clothing              20%

Transportation             10%

Entertainment              5%

Investment                   5%

Contributions               25%

Others                           10%

 

Budgeting for real can be difficult considering it takes a lot of discipline but once you make it a habit, you’ll enjoy it. If you don’t know where your money is going then your money is controlling you. Decide today to take charge of your money, START BUDGETING!