-by Alex Butterworth
It’s April. The final instalment of student loan is in. There are approximately twelve weeks until graduation, and graduation costs.
In addition to all the usual costs of a final semester, graduation means renting the gown, getting a new outfit, paying for tickets and photos, possibly renting a hotel room, going for a meal with family and on a night out with your mates.
So how to deal with the added financial burden? Budget, budget, budget. Go and check your bank account. Write that number down. Take away the amount you have to spend on rent and bills until the end of your contract. If you don’t have fixed bills, estimate generously. It’s better to have money left over than to be caught short.
Next, work out how much graduation will cost. How much do the gowns cost to hire? Are you paying for transport, accommodation, tickets? How much will your outfit cost?
At this point, the real money saving experts will be thinking, “Hang on, do I really need a new outfit?” The answer is no, you don’t, not really. The last nice dress or suit you bought will look just as good now. As a reward for making do with an outfit you already own, you’re rewarded with saving all the money you were going to spend on a new one.
So you’ve got your total, minus rent and graduation costs. Next step, divide by twelve. This will give you your weekly budget from now until then.
Some people like to divide each weekly budget so they can allocate it to different things. I like to keep it as a lump sum. The key to sticking to the budget now is seeing it as an absolute. You are not allowed to exceed this amount. However, you can convert it into a running total. For example, you have £20 a week now. Week 1, you spend £15. You note down in your diary, on your calendar, or in a note on your phone, 15/20. Week 2, you spend the full £20. You note down 35/40. You’ve got an excess £5 from week 1 left around, you’re allowed to let week 3 get up to 60/60. You aren’t allowed to make week 1 25/20 in the hopes that you’ll save £5 next week. With that mentality, you won’t save £5 next week.
A top tip for keeping track of your money is note down every expenditure. It’s easy to do this in a note on your phone, since we all have those on us at all times. If you have a very low budget, you might want to accurately record every purchase. If things aren’t too tight, you should round every purchase up to the next 10p, or next pound. If you always note down that you’ve spent more than you have, you can’t possibly overspend. And the money you’re pretending you’ve spent adds up, and you could come out of this with £10 or so to spare.
To actually boost instead of just maintain your funds, there should be time for everyone to get a part time job between the end of exams and graduation. Everything you earn helps you claw yourself a little further out of your student debt, and the work experience can’t hurt.