Being poor is one of the defining student experiences. Budget brands. Op shop clothes. Switching the plugs off at the wall. ‘Going out’ funds that run dry after a starter and corkage fee. Swappa-crates. Warning light on the petrol tank. Wearing beanies to bed. Walking home to avoid the taxi fare.
And yet, despite all this penny pinching, at the end of the month there’s always a gaping hole where your money should be. On the days before your next payment, you find yourself raiding the back recesses of the pantry because you’ve literally got NO money left for groceries. Every month, you wind up feeling cold, getting hungry, going without. “I don’t know where it all goes,” you say.
The only way to find out is to graph it. Go onto your Internet banking and select a month – pick one without any random purchases or unexpected expenses. Look through each of your purchases and write down the 10-15 categories that they fall into – ‘Rent’, ‘Power’, ‘Phone/internet’, ‘Petrol’, ‘Groceries’, ‘Food/drinks bought while out’, ‘Alcohol’, ‘Entertainment’, ‘Beauty products’, ‘Clothes’, ‘Stationery’, etc (your list of categories will reflect whatever you tend to spend your money on). Then, transfer the value of each purchase into one of the categories. Be honest: those daily coffees/energy drinks/muffins go into the ‘Food/drinks bought while out’ section, not the ‘groceries’ section!
Next, bust into an Excel or Word document and make a pie chart. Then look at it. Compare how the slices size up to each other. Look at the segments of the pie that are disproportionately fat. That’s where all your money is going.