Understanding your money is vital to managing it properly. Follow these simple steps to check your situation and start taking control...
- Start by checking your bank account online, so you know how much money you have left – or how overdrawn you are.
- You'll also need to consider any other debt you owe. This could be money you have spent on a credit card or loans you haven't repaid yet. Don't include student loans in this, as they are repaid differently.
- Finally, check any savings you have. It's best to leave these where they are, but if you are in debt then you might save money in the long run by using some of your savings to pay it off, so it's useful to know what you have.
Your income might include:
Looking at your bank statement can help with this: you should be able to identify most things you have used a debit or credit card to pay for. You'll also be able to see how much cash you withdraw each week, although not how you spent it.
For the future, it's a good idea to keep a record of your spending. This will give you a more accurate idea of where your money goes and how you can save.
You should also check for common ways that people throw money away – and if you're at university, check that you aren't paying for things you could get for free.
If you're a student, you may be able to get an emergency loan or grant from the Access to Learning Fund.
If you are in debt, you can get free independent advice on how to deal with it.
You may be tempted to take out a payday loan to keep you going. These are very expensive and can make a bad situation worse, so always look carefully at the alternatives first.
Find out more about what to do if you run into money trouble.
Follow this simple guide to start building your budget, or use the Student Calculator to help you.
If you have lost control of your finances, you might need to set yourself a tighter short-term budget to sort the situation out. This might mean cutting back more than you would like on luxuries like going out. When you're back on your feet, you can give yourself a bit more breathing room – but don't give up budgeting altogether.