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Being a student will invariably mean that many will be on a very tight budget.  Surviving on limited resources can be tough work and can be very stressful, so that's why it's a good idea to create a budget. By constructing a budget, you can make informed decisions about your financial needs.

How to draw up a budget plan

Step 1Work out your income. Find out how much money you have coming in. Only list money you are certain you will receive such for example Youth Allowance, Austudy, Abstudy, from parents, other allowances, employment, remissions, and scholarships.

Step 2Work out your expenditure. It is vital that you establish practical priorities in your spending from the beginning of semester - rent bond, electricity, gas, phone, food, transport, entertainment, book, university expenses, insurance, clothes, incidentals and others.

Step 3To obtain the balance, subtract your expenditure from your income to find out just how much money you have left. If you have a surplus, it is worth saving at least some of your surplus money for emergencies. If you find that you have a deficit you can either consider ways to economise, or if that's not possible, investigate ways of maximising your income. It is worthwhile testing your budget from time to time. Over one week keep an actual record of all your expenditure and see how it matches up to your budget.

Step 4Keep track of your finances. It is useful to keep all the paperwork relating to your finances (bank statements, bills etc) in one place. Keep a record of your visits to the ATM machine, or cheques you wrote, bills you've paid and check your bank statements. Putting aside time to do this will help you avoid any surprises like a forgotten bill. It will also give you information on your current financial situation.

Tips for saving money

The following are tips that will help you save money:

  • use a phone card - this enables you to monitor how much you spend
  • gas heater - this is less expensive than an electric heater
  • save for bills - put aside a set amount each week for bills eg phone and electricity, to enable you to pay the bills when they arrive
  • fruit and vegetables - buy those that are in season as they are usually cheaper
  • meat - buy cheaper cuts
  • rice and pasta - good and inexpensive sources of energy
  • avoid restaurants and take aways - too expensive
  • watch out for specials at the supermarkets.