#89 Make a budget for school and stick to it


The 89th goal on my 101 in 1,001 list is to budget my student salary in a way that I can save money, pay my bills, have some spending money to go out & not go crazy.

Easy enough right? Ha.

I don’t make enough money for this. But I’m going to give it a go because I need a budget right now more than EVER. My credit card is out of control. Part of me wants to just cut it up, and the other part of me is like “shut up, logical part of Mel,  you need that card.”

Yeah  sometimes I talk to myself. I also wish I could tell you which side was winning.

Anyways, since I’ve got some money issues that I don’t want anymore and since I’m a rather organized person who loves to make lists, I figured I would make myself an official budget that I have to stick with now that I’m only working part-time with school. I’ll start myself off for October with a strict but also kind of easy budget and hopefully, progressively, work my way to a tougher budget as the holidays come nearer. I need to find a way to have the money to buy Christmas gifts… Right now that is just not an option.

Part One

What I am not allowed to buy as of right now: 

1) Books! I do not need more books. Want to know why?

This is my un-read bookshelf. Yes, it’s two rows deep on each shelf. I can’t stop buying books. And here’s the thing: at my work, I CAN BORROW BOOKS. Brand new, waiting to be read. I don’t need to buy all the latest titles, I can borrow if need be. I’ve also got a Kindle and hundreds of books on there too. Don’t worry, I didn’t pay for all these hundreds of books. Not on my Kindle or on my bookshelf. Lots of free stuff. But still.

No more book buying.

2) Anything on Amazon. That place is freaking ADDICTIVE. I’ve got one order being processed & after that… NO MORE.

3) CD’s, DVD’s, TV show seasons. All that stuff. I do not need it- I don’t have any time to watch it.  Current exception: if something is on a ridiculously good sale. I will not buy ANYTHING full priced, but I currently have the first 2 seasons of Smallville on hold at 9.99$ each. They’re usually almost 70$. 

4) Breakfast, lunch, or dinner while I’m at school & work. I have so many yummy choices while I’m at both of these places, but I can easily bring my own food from home. I mean, it’s free, it’s good & that’s all I need to remember. Exception: if I’m going out with friends I can buy food, but I need to make consciously cheaper choices and limit my outings. Like hi not every day or anything. 

5) Clothes, accessories, makeup, unnecessary random products. I’m trying to cover my bases in 5 points here, but basically I shouldn’t go to the mall and walk into Forever 21.

Part Two

What I can still buy, but in moderate amounts: 

1) Coffee. I’m fully embracing my current need/love/obsession with coffee because it’s like the best part of my day. I will however limit myself to one purchase per day, NEVER four dollars or more. This means nothing more than a ‘small’ at Starbucks and sticking to Tim Hortons when I’m at school.

2) Concert tickets. I need concerts in my life to survive, and I’m being incredibly careful already about which ones I go to… But I’m just throwing it out into the Universe that I’m being excessively careful as to which ones I go to.

3) I can’t even think of a third thing that I need, but I’m leaving it open for *emergencies* or also because I’m not a robot and I’m going to want to spend money on something. As long as it’s not expensive and not happening regularly, I won’t feel too guilty. I’m a girl and I like to shop.

Part Three

The breakdown of what my income should look like

I get paid every two weeks, so I have to make every dollar count. When I get paid, I will immediately:

Put 1/4 into savings. Half of it will go into my University fund, the other half into my regular savings. This officially started this week.

Use 1/2 for bills. My credit card is really high right now, much MUCH higher than it should ever be. It’s not cool. From this moment, I will be using my credit card for two things only: my cell phone bill and my monthly bus pass. That means that half my paycheck, twice a month, will go to paying my credit card, and all other bills will be directed to the credit card.

Keep 1/4 for spending. I don’t know how unreasonable that sounds, but this is assuming I get paid about 400 dollars every two weeks. That means I’m keeping 100 dollars for myself for two weeks to buy coffee & to go out. I don’t FEEL like that’s unreasonable, and if I get paid more than that I’ll split the extra cash evenly in my savings & my bills, whichever can use it more. If I see that I’m not using my spending money well (don’t have enough/have too much) then I’ll re-evaluate, but I think that’s a good safety float for right now, considering my income.

Part Four

Final touches to the budget

I can only assume that there will be instances where I’ll NEED to use my credit card or change this basic outline a little bit and I’m okay with that. I don’t know how much of a *plan* this is, but I think it’s a good, basic outline for now. The point is that I’m putting my ideas out there and I feel like I’ll hold myself more accountable just by writing it down here. Whether people have read this far or not isn’t the point, I really need to do this for MYSELF.

I don’t want to be stressed about money. I want to save towards whatever my next big purchase will be. I want to continue to travel, and I want to start being more financially smart. It’s time that I sincerely consider every single one of my purchases. It’s just baby steps for now but I’m  hoping that I can have some will power with this goal and stick it through.

The book currently sitting on my desk, inspiring me to save, save, save!

I have no idea if I’m not doing this budget thing right, but like I said I can only learn by doing. But tell me, what are your tips for budgeting? What’s worked for you, what really doesn’t work? Let me know so I can hopefully use some of your ideas too! 


15 responses »

  1. Can I just say how happy I am that I’m not the only one with a double-full bookshelf of unread books? When Borders had their clearance sales, I was there picking up new books for up to 70% off. Which, is awesome in terms of brand new books but did a number on my wallet because I was buying so many. And, I already had so many unread books before that.

    Making a budget is something I put on my summer list, but my summer list plan fell through. Plus, with lots of changes at work it wasn’t the right time. Now that I’ve been hired full-time, will soon get a raise and living in my own place I am going to make one and stick to it. I really like how you listed everything out and decided what you can and cannot buy, and what your spending/saving will look like.

    • Can I just say how happy I AM TOO that I’m not the only one with that many unread books?! I feel like such a hoarder!! I wish my bookstore was having a sale like Borders (minus the closing down part)…but no, I’m constantly buying at more or less full price. So lame.

      Good luck with your budget too, whenever you get around to making it. I’m realizing more and more how important it is to have one. Hopefully once my debt is paid off I’ll be able to have more money for myself and more money for my savings… But for now this will just have to do! I really spend TOO much.

    • I’ve been seriously considering doing that, but then I worry that I might get stuck in an emergency and need it! I’ll probably give it a shot though, I just feel so… empty without it! Well, now that I think of it that’s probably not the best thing now is it? Hmm.

  2. I too have stacks of unread books….and I bought 2 more yesterday :/ seriously, I need to stop this (especially if I want to go back to uni next year – I can’t afford it as it is!)
    It seems like you have a good plan there chick, just need to try and stick to it! Have you tried only using cash? Last time I was a student I used to take an ‘allowance’ out in cash on a Monday, and that way I knew that whenever I paid for something on my card it was out of my budget and I really needed to justify it. It’s scary how many little things you stick on the card and forget about!
    Good luck!!

    • I like the idea of taking out money and only using that until the next time I get paid, except that would mean leaving NO money in my bank account (since I’m leaving myself 100 more or less for 2 weeks). I’m not sure how I feel about doing that, but I should considering taking out like half of that and just trying to use that, then keeping the rest for emergencies or something. I like the idea of using only what I have on me (AKA cash!)

  3. Ah, girl. I am so with you! Seriously, we are so alike it’s a little ridiculous. Hehe. My money issues have actually gotten WORSE since I started my full-time job. I’m paying my bills but not also saving the money I need to save. I’m also not really sure about how much money I do have to spend because I just don’t keep track like I need to. (And yes, I could look this up online but I get scared, ha.)

    So I need to do some of the same things. I’m thinking of using cash for all my spending purposes. Taking it out when I get paid and not letting myself use my debit/credit card for anything other than emergencies. Haven’t done it yet but I need to! I think it would curb my spending a LOT. (And when I use up the cash, I’m done until I get paid again.)

    Also, not having your credit cards on you helps SO much. I know it’s nice to have them for emergencies but for the majority of this year, I actually made my mom hold on to mine and she let me ever use them, even if I begged. 😉 I was actually able to pay off my credit cards (all of one, most of another) by doing this.

    Anyway, I’ve now written a novel. Good luck on your budgeting goals! Keep us updated on how it goes. 🙂

    • I’m seriously considering the cash thing right now too, it seems like my best option to keep track of my spending habits. I should track where all my money is going so I know WHERE my problem areas are. I realized yesterday that my coffee stops are a BIG issue.

      I also stashed my credit card away and I’m going to try to not use it at all until it’s paid off. I really don’t have a choice at this point! I’d give it to my mom, but the minute I say ‘okay I need it back’ she’ll just give it to me LOL. Your mom has more willpower than me & my mom combined!

      • Only when it comes to credit cards. When it comes to cheating on my diet? She is the BIGGEST perpetrator, ha! We are emotional eaters, can’t ya tell? 😉

  4. I’m the last person you should ask for budget advice from. I understand the theory but seem to lack the discipline to stick to one. It sounds like you’ve covered all bases and done the most important thing which is saving. Saving are your number one bill!

    • Trust me Paul, we are in the SAME boat. Thanks for the tip though! I’m slowly learning that no matter WHAT I always need to be saving. Really important for sure.

  5. I’ve gotten much better with my book buying habit by going through my multiple books I want to read list and picking up the stuff from the library instead. However, I went to a used book store this week and still managed to walk out with a little something. I mean a girl needs a reward.

  6. Pingback: Budgeting: Month 1 « Press Play.

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