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By Rebecca Isjwara
Creating a budget plan and maintaining it might be one of the toughest skills to learn in college, but it is also one that’s very useful for life hereon and thereafter. It is important to set a monthly limit and stick to it strictly, otherwise you’ll end up spending money you don’t have. When creating a budget plan, here are the most important elements you have to take into account:
Without an existing home in your host country, this could easily be the largest chunk of your monthly expenses. Take not as to when you have to make these payments, too. Some dorms would require half-year payments or sometimes you’d have to make a 3-month deposit. Whether it’s monthly or lump-sum, it’s important to recognize this as a monthly expense to have a realistic monthly budget.
Food has always been a large portion of your expenses, but it’s hardly noticeable when you have your parents to provide every meal for you. Explore different ways of obtaining your meals, such as catering, eating in the university cafeteria, meal plans, or cooking meals yourself. Some universities might have very affordable canteen food, but some other countries might allow you to save up more if you cook for yourself. Whatever your choice is, try to tally up the daily or weekly cost of your food and extrapolate that into a monthly scale to put in your monthly budget.
This includes electricity, water, WiFi, phone bills, and toiletries. These little things might not seem significant, but will add up once you lump them together. Sparing a certain portion to your monthly budget for buying soap is never a bad thing, and you’d feel less strained for money than if you have to sacrifice your dinner in turn for paying your WiFi bills.
4. Entertainment and miscellaneous
Movies, eating out, karaoke nights, and university club activities go here. The amount or proportion of this element is completely up to your budget and preference, but it’s useful to anticipate expenses like these upfront so you are freer to choose between leisure activities that will alternate with your busy university life.
5. Emergency money
Last but not least, save a little bit every month for some unexpected situations. Even though we don’t expect anything hazardous to happen to us (knock on wood), emergencies pile up, and buying medicines or purchasing insurance is less taxing on your mind once you have that proportion of your budget ready.
If you have trouble coming up with your monthly budget, try and consult university websites, talk to seniors who are studying in the same city, or browse through prices in the area through the web. Once you’re done with your budget plan, consult your calculations with your parents. Determining a fixed monthly budget every month requires discipline, but also prevents you from spending too much. It would take a few months to get a hang of this, but it’s definitely a skill that will come in handy in the future.