A budget is an itemized summary of likely income and expenses for a given period. The goal of budgeting is to cut unnecessary costs, prioritize spending, and plan for the future—no matter the state of your financial health.
How to make a budget
Record all sources of income and expenses that you incur every month. The objective is to calculate the monthly average of your spending and income. The more information you can dig up, the better.
Financial documents to collect:
- Bank and/or credit card statements
- Bills (electricity, internet, cellphones)
- Student loan assessments
- Loans, bursaries, grants, scholarship statements
- Monetary gifts
- Records of self-employment income
*If your paycheck has tax deductions, use the net income (take-home pay).
Write down a list of expenses you think will incur in a given month. Sort them under ‘fixed’ and ‘variable’ expenses.
Fixed expenses generally remain constant for a while and are not as likely to change in the budget.
- Rent / mortgage
- Internet, cellphone
- Loan payments
- Fixed loan repayments
Variable expenses change over time depending on the purchase and usage of products and services. Variable expenses include:
- Groceries, snacks
- Dining out
- Fashion/personal care
- Tuition fees
- Your total income and expenses should be two separate sums. Budgeting is to improve your financial situation by having more income than expenses.
- If your expenses are greater than your total income, you will need to consider making changes to balance your budget. This will mean cutting some expenses.
Reduce non-essential variable expenses such as dining out, entertainment, media and snacks. You can also lower your fixed expenses by opting for budget-friendly internet and phone plans.
Take advantage of campus activities, most of which are free or inexpensive.
There are a lot of activities that you can do off-campus that don’t eat into your wallet: Montreal is a great city to walk – check out Old Montreal, Mount Royal and Ste-Catherine Street, to name a few. All are accessible from Concordia for free and you get the health benefits of walking, too!
Eating on a budget
- Get a free meal at People’s Potato (SGW, H-700.00) 12:30 to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
- Eat nutritiously on a budget by taking your lunch, snacks and drinks with you to school.
- Planning your meals for the coming week and only buy what you need. This also helps reduce wasted food at the end of the week.
- Instead, buy coffee beans in bulk and make it yourself. Purchase a travel mug and bring it with you to campus to keep your coffee warm.
After the first month, compare the actual expenses you incurred versus what you anticipated in your budget.
- Make adjustments to your budget for the following month with this new data.
- Review your budget regularly to make sure you are staying on track.
- Make room in your budget for expenses that come up from time to time, such as clothing, gifts and vacations.
- If you have some money left over after your expenses, add the surplus to a savings account.
- A savings account can also be used as an emergency fund for unexpected bills. The more you save, the sooner you’ll reach your financial goals.