Thursday, 16 December 2021

I love creating budget spreadsheets and savings vaults on Revolut. Whether I always stick to them is another thing, but at least the intention is there! As we get older you’ve probably realised that there are suddenly a lot more things to pay for, and your take home salary isn’t the same as soon as you start paying things like your pension and life insurance etc. Here is why creating a budget is important and some tips for how to create one and stay on track of your finances.

Why create a budget?

For the simple reason, that nobody likes to be struggling with money. We also know life is full of unexpected costs and it’s better to be prepared than have debts to pay left right and centre. It’s important to live within your means and to understand the difference between wanting and needing something. To learn more about creating the perfect budget and why you need to, click here.

How to start a budget

Create a spreadsheet

It doesn’t have to be complicated and full of formulas, but the ‘equal sum’ one will come in handy and means you won’t have to manually add up figures or whip out your phone calculator. The way I organise mine is having a table for each month and keep my total income at the top and another row for money I might have coming in from my blog. I then list all my fixed spendings such as my pension and the gym, and then I can see what’s left to arrange into savings or disposable income for the month.

Have multiple savings accounts

Any kind of savings is always great (and better than being in debt). I have 3 savings accounts opened in Natwest just so I don’t feel guilty if I pull from my savings for a treat or a holiday for example. My first savings account is dedicated to furnishing my house when it’s eventually ready, and this I hope to not touch until then. Especially when I’m getting 1.5% interest with Natwest Savings Builder. My second savings account is for ‘fun stuff’ like holidays and festival tickets. My third being ‘adult stuff’ like dental appointments and unexpected expenses.

Pay yourself first

It can be easy to spend as you like and then put away ‘whatever’s left’ at the end of the month, but doing that makes it very easy to be left with nothing and just living from paycheck to paycheck. When your salary comes in, pay everything you need to and save and then see what you have left for the month. I usually move my monthly disposable income to Revolut and keep that as my budget for the month.

Plan ahead

December ends up being an expensive month for everyone with all the Christmas shopping and social gatherings, but it doesn’t have to leave you scraping pennies and using up half of your next salary by the end of the month. What I did at the beginning of January is I calculated all the birthday and Christmas presents I had to make this year and then I divided that sum by 12. I then set up a recurring transfer to a ‘Presents Vault’ on Revolut each month so that I had the money saved already. I can say that’s definitely helped!


* This is a collaborative post but all words and opinions are my own *


Thursday, 9 December 2021

How to choose a university course depends on what you’re planning to do with your degree. For example, if you’re a mature student (that’s a student over the age of 21), you might have already had your career and now you want to study for fun.

In that case, you could choose a university course that aligns with your hobbies. For example, if you’re a bookworm, maybe a degree in English literature would be perfect for you or, if you’re an animal lover, how about a degree in animal science?

But if you’re a teenager currently studying for your A-Levels and about to start the rest of your life outside high school, you will need to choose a university course carefully as it will impact your future. 

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What do you want to be when you grow up?

Of course, the job you want to obtain after graduating will have some bearing on your chosen degree. But your degree doesn’t necessarily have to be that close to what you want to do for a job. Some, if not most, employers will be happy with any degree - especially if you get a good grade - rather than only hiring graduates with degrees that correspond closely with their industry.

Obviously, for some careers you will need a relevant degree. For example, if you’ve got your heart set on being an astronaut but you don’t own the world’s biggest online store and can’t pay to be shot into space, a performing arts degree probably won’t get you very far. Not as far as the moon and back, anyway.

On the whole though, it’s better to get a 1st class degree in a subject you enjoy than a 3rd in something more relevant.

A 1st class degree shows you have intelligence, dedication and self-discipline and those are qualities that are high on any employer’s list of priorities.

While you may well have the intelligence to get a 1st class degree in any subject, you will struggle to find the dedication and self-discipline to be engaged enough to gain a 1st in a subject you find boring or have no interest in. 

Where do you want to live?

If you’re a mature, mature student (i.e. someone who hasn’t been in their twenties for a long time), you probably won’t be upping sticks and moving far away from home for the first time. 

If that’s the case, your choice of university course will be more limited as you’ll be restricted by the courses that are on offer at your local university. However, for the youngsters just finishing their A-Levels, the world is their oyster. 

So, if you’re an extrovert who likes a big, buzzing city full of bars, clubs and restaurants, you’ll need to find a course where you can get student accommodation in Southampton, London, Brighton or similar vibrant city that will cater for all your nightlife needs. 

Does the course offer what you want?

If you’ve seen two courses with the same title and you choose the course that’s in a more desirable place to live, be careful. Just because the courses have the same name, it doesn’t mean you’ll be studying the same subjects. 

Universities draw up their own courses based on their own particular staff and facilities, so courses can vary wildly between universities. 

With that in mind, if you see a course you think you like the look of, study the course outline carefully to make sure the course contains modules you’re interested in (or to make sure it doesn’t contain modules you don’t want to do). 

Along with the actual course content, also check if the course offers other elements you were hoping for such as work experience, placements or a year abroad. If these things are important to you, again, make sure you research the course carefully. 

Visit universities and attend open days

Your degree will take three or more years out of your life that you’ll never get back, so you need to be sure it’s the course for you. 

A big part of university life is the actual campus, so visit the universities who have courses you’re interested in and see what they have to offer. 

Walk around the campus, talk to students there and get as much info from them and the tutors as you can. 

While you’re there, you can check the campus out and see if they have the facilities you’d ideally have access to such as a theatre, library or music venue, etc. 

Knowing how to choose a university course can be daunting. After all, there are thousands of courses to choose from and you need to be sure you choose the right one. 

Taking some time to think about what you need from a university course will help you to make the right choice.

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