Many Canadian graduates in the UK struggle at first to budget, keep track of finances and manage money while in another country, especially when dealing with a different currency! Here are some steps and resources to help you build a plan and to stick to your budget when studying in the UK.
Step 1: Figure out your main means of income
What is your source of money? Are you dependent on loans or your savings? Are you working part-time (remember, you can work up to 20 hours a week on a Tier 4 Student Visa) in order to raise a little extra cash? You need to identify what your main source of money will be, and how much you have available as you start to plan your budget.
- If you are eligible to receive Canadian Federal Loans, you’ll want to apply as early as possible, so that you receive confirmation of your loan before you begin your visa application.
- While your loan payments will usually be deferred until after you have finished your studies, you may want to think about planning in some extra money in order to start paying off the interest that builds up during this time. (The deferral period is 6 months.)
Step 2: Categorize your living costs
Figure out if you want to do a month-to-month or week-to-week budget. Month to month is usually easiest for this sort of thing. Break down your monthly living costs into categories, including the following:
- Textbooks & School Supplies
- Groceries & Personal Items
- Eating out
- Utilities (if living off campus)
- Transportation & Travel Costs (local, national, etc.)
Step 3: Write down everything
For instance, what you are going to need to spend each month for each of these. These totals are your monthly allowance that will help you not to overspend or squander your money.
Step 4: Make sure to track your spending each month
If you force yourself to keep track of how much you are spending, you are less likely to overspend or run out of money – something you definitely don’t want to do when studying abroad on a budget.
Step 5: Live within your means
If you know you can’t afford something, don’t get it. This is the quickest way to run out of money. If you are living on a shoestring budget, eating out every night is probably not the best idea. If you have already spent your entertainment allowance for the month, you don’t want dip into your extra funds for an expensive concert that you can’t afford. Be aware of how you spend your money and you should be fine when completing your Master’s degree in the UK.
Plenty of financial resources exist online that can help you to build a proper budgeting plan, including these handy budgeting forms, the International Student Calculator for the UK, this video by Professor Savings with budgeting tips, and this “How to” video on budgeting.