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Planning & Budgeting

Planning

The best way to use your income is to plan the ways you will spend or save it. Work out a budget as clearly as you can for the following year and stick to it!

The Wesley Mission has a 'Money Planner' set up online which can calculate help you with budgeting: http://www.wesleymission.org.au/centres/creditline/plan.asp (open an external page)

Budgeting

It is important to keep your budget simple so that you can stick to it. Firstly, figure out where your money is going.

  1. Write down everything you spend for one month. Everything! This includes the bottle of coke you buy on the way home, your chewing gum, your text books, your train pass, cat food, etc.
  2. From this you can estimate how much you spend each year on these items using your expenses for the month as an average. Excel spreadsheets work well – but use the method that feels most comfortable for you. If you haven’t already, factor in rent, tuition, a vacation, gifts, drinks at the group work meeting, anything you spend money on.
  3. Once you have estimated how much you SPEND in a year, it is time to estimate your income for the year. This includes any earnings from jobs, any interest paid to you, dividends, or an allowance from your Centrelink payments, parents – any money you receive in a year. Add this up.
  4. If your income will exceed your expenditure you need to look for ways to either earn more or spend less.
  5. Spending less is the best option if you don’t have time to work more and keep up with your study. In this case you need to cut down spending on such things as clothing (check out the markets at Glebe or Paddy’s), entertainment and eating out. When you go out decide beforehand how much you will spend and stick to it.

More budgeting tips

  • If you use a credit card start writing down how often you use it, and keep a record of all receipts. You may be surprised at how often you use it when you don’t need to, and at least when your bill comes you won’t be surprised at your spending. Avoid impulse buying!
  • There are loads of free things to do at UTS! UTS Union run trivia at the Glasshouse and Markets bars, free movies and dance parties every Thursday night. You could also get involved with the UTS Peer Network – they do a lot during the holidays when other parts of the uni have slowed down, as well as lots during the semester.
  • There are heaps of Clubs and Societies at UTS which you can join for a very small fee and then reap the benefits over the year. For more info on Clubs & Societies Visit the UTS Union website http://www.utsunion.uts.edu.au
  • To find out about free entertainment in Sydney go to http://www.citysearch.com.au (open an external page) and look up events. There are often free festivals in Darling Harbour and the beaches are a bus fare away. Check out the trivia nights at your local pub - free and fun, and you may even win!

I really need to cut down my expenditure!

If your budget shows you are on the road to debt it may be time for drastic action on big-ticket items. E.g:

  • You could move to cheaper accommodation: You may be able to find cheaper housing by moving to an area further from the university or city or a place which is smaller or shared by others. Remember to factor in transport costs – you may get a flat for $30 less but pay $30 more in transport costs. Check the UTS Housing Service listings of accommodation for private rental.
  • If you are on Centrelink consider co-operative housing – rent is 25% of your income and you need to spend a few hours per week involved in the cooperative in a way that you choose.
  • The Association to Resource Cooperative Housing has lists of housing cooperatives in Sydney (www.arch.asn.au) or call them on 9361 6834. A good example of a cooperative close to UTS is Ningana, phone 9660 7520.
  • If you own a car it may have to go –keeping it on the road is very expensive.
    Insurance (Greenslip and Third Party Property are essential)
    Registration
    Maintenance
    Parking
    Fuel
    NRMA Membership

    The NRMA estimates the cost of running a car at between $100 and $193 per week, depending on the type of car.

    The NRMA offers advice on how to sell a car at http://www.mynrma.com.au/motoring/cars/buying_and_selling/selling_hand.shtml (open an external page)

Check our tips on how to minimise credit card bills, mobile phone expenses and housing expenditure in the Debt Avoidance & Management section.