Making a budget and sticking to it!

Tips for managing your personal finances

Written by Juliana Law


It is nice to watch a movie with friends, have a cup of Butlers hot chocolate every morning and give yourself a treat to Paris during term break. Let’s be realistic, no matter how much allowance you’re granted by your parents, you’ll never be able to satisfy all your unlimited desires without creating an overdraft. There are apparent reasons why we, teenagers who have transitioned from children to young adults, should start to keep a habit of financial planning and do our best to stick to it.

The reasons are simple, because resources are limited and are inadequate to satisfy our unlimited wants. Keeping a budget will make the most out of our pocket and prevent you ending up in debt. It is also a practice of self-discipline and organisation that will bring life-long benefits. Here are some suggestions on making financial planning painless and sustainable.

Create a monthly budget

This should serves as a blueprint of your monthly expenditure and guides your decision making when you shop. It should also gives a brief outline of essential expenditures and estimate your spending. Taking one simple step will help prevents overspending and reminds you to adhere to your allowance. Check out MABS for more tips!

Smart phone personal finance Apps

FREE smartphone apps are available nowadays to provide interactive and entertaining tools to aid personal budgeting. There are two types of apps: plan ahead or keep a record of your spending.

Expense Manager

This app allows you to track expenses by week, month or year, or across categories. You can set up payment alerts, chart expense categories, search for individual transactions and even take pictures to store receipts. The app includes handy tools such as a currency converter, tip calculator, tax calculator, and more.

Shopping list

This is not just a wild wish list like those you made for Santa Clause when you were young. It is a realistic and practical plan of things that you genuinely need, which gives you a frame of the extent of your shopping spree. Writing out the list in advance also allows time to revise and think it through; this will reduce the chance of spending on urges. Instead of getting lost in rows and rows of products in Tesco, and be tempted to get a tub of ice cream and forget to get oatmeal that you need for breakfast, having a list in your hand keeps you on track and effective. As a result, you save time and money.

Ask yourself: Do I really need that?

Most people buy on impulse rather than needs. Okay, you need to eat. But there’s a difference between getting a prime cut steak and getting a sandwich for lunch. If you’re under a tight budget, reconsider whether you really need to get a gym membership. There are free alternatives such as cycling and jogging around your neighborhood. You get fresh air, entertainment and healthiness with no cost.

Use more cash and fewer credit cards

Swiping the card gives an illusion that you pay nothing, or less than you think you’ve paid, for your purchases. Paying in cash and counting your change is a good way to build sensible consumption behavior, and to avoid spending your future money.

Utilise what you already have

Use your creativity to reuse items that you already have rather than getting new things all the time. Think of those kids your age in Africa who will not possess more than 3 pairs of shoes in their entire life, before you throw away last season’s clothes and stock up your wardrobe with the latest fashion. Seeing lives of less fortunate people will help you to resist the temptation to spend for the sake of spending.


Making simple things can save a lot more than you expected. For instance, brewing your own cup of coffee costs approximately 1/20 of getting one from a café. If you grow tired of your wardrobe, you can easily smarten it up with effortless craftsmanship. Do it with your friends to add extra fun! 

People say we have entered an era of materialism. The thing is, we don’t need a lot of substances to be happy. Life satisfaction cannot be measured by one’s possessions; it depends on the attitude of people. Rebecca Bloomwood’s experience from Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series sheds some light on the upshot of the unhealthy shopping addiction. There is one inevitable consequence from such obsession: doom. Therefore, it is wise to start saving for a rainy day when you are young and stop spending more than you can afford by making a budget.


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