pexels-photo-210696 The new year has begun and you’re getting ready to start the academic year. You’ve probably made some new year’s resolutions for 2017. Perhaps you’ve decided it’s time you hit the gym more often. Maybe you want to try be more social this upcoming year. Or you’re going to take your studies more seriously and attend every lecture from day one. Whatever your resolutions are, you should also be considering your finances for the next 12 months and how you’re going to handle them. It’s not easy being a student. You’re not exactly financially stable and often don’t have a lot of money. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have some financial resolutions to guide you through the year. What little cash you have, you should know how to look after it. So, here are six financial resolutions for students. Learn to budget correctly This is incredibly important. Simply writing down your expenses at the beginning of the month, while always a good idea, is not enough. You need to make sure you account for everything you need to spend money on. From your rent to your grocery spending, you should be certain of the numbers. And, because you don’t want to be stuck indoors all month, you should also put money aside for a little fun. It’s often the nights out you don’t predict that mess up your budget. Get your phone out and do all the calculations so you know exactly what you need to pay, what you can spend and what you can save.   Track your expenses This is something you should start doing straight away. You can’t budget properly without knowing what you’re spending your money on. That’s why you should download a spending app or keep a notebook where you record every cent you spend, whether it’s on a cup of coffee or a textbook. This way you’ll easily be able to see what your unnecessary expenses are and where you can save money. You may not think twice about purchasing a sandwich on campus instead of making lunch at home but once you see how much it all adds up to, you’ll change your mind.    Cut out bad spending habits As soon as you start tracking your spending, you’ll be able to see what your bad spending habits are. Are going out for coffee too often? Are you spending too much on junk food? Are you buying clothes when you could simply repurpose old outfits? Whatever your bad spending habits are, now is the time to cut them out. At first, it may be difficult but after a while it will become second nature and you’ll find that you can easily go without these things. In fact, you may find that you start enjoying seeing how much you can save by turning down all those extras you don’t need. Decide on a savings goal How much do you want to save this year? Do you have a specific amount in mind? Start by thinking about what you want to use your savings for. Do you want to go on holiday after your final exams? Do you want to be able to purchase a car? Do you want to pay for your next year of varsity? Or perhaps you just want to have money set aside for any emergencies that may come up. Whatever your reasons, set a goal and make a plan of how you’re going to get there. How are you going to reach that specific savings goal? Find ways to make extra money You may think you don’t have the time for a part-time job while you’re studying full-time. This is not true. Yes, it will be difficult and you’ll have to have excellent time management skills. But many people have a job on the side while they’re studying and if they can do it, so can you. And you don’t have to go the traditional route and get a job waiting tables or work at a bar. There are many other options out there. For example, if you’re a postgraduate student or in your final year of undergrad, you can tutor first and second years. Check whether there is a tutoring centre at your university and speak to them. Alternatively, speak to the heads of department in your field and see whether they can help you find students who need academic help. Invest what you can It’s not just about saving. You should invest what you can if you want your money to grow. Look up all the options. You can look at high-return short-term investments and see whether that suits your savings goals. Or you may want to go with something that offers you return on your investment in the long run. There’s no time like the present to start sorting out your finances for the year ahead. If you budget properly, track your spending, cut out bad habits, decide on a savings goal, find ways to make extra money and invest what you can, you’ll find yourself with more cash than you thought you could save in a year. Image: Pexels

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