Before you leave home, it's important to work out a budget to make sure you'll be able to afford all the new things you'll have to pay for.
All those things you may well take for granted, such as hot water, food and the television licence, will be coming out of your pocket.
How do I draw up a budget?
To draw up a budget, add up all your outgoings and all your income in two separate columns. Subtract the outgoings from the income and hope that there's something left over.
Consider all your outgoings, the money you spend, or will be spending if you get your own place. Think about the things you will have to spend money on in your own place and how much each will cost:
- electricity and gas bills;
- telephone bill;
- home contents insurance;
- TV licence (at the moment a colour licence costs £142 a year).
Work out how much you spend a month on:
- mobile phone;
- credit card or loan repayments;
- going out;
- other expenditure (CDs, books, gifts etc.)
If you find this difficult, read writing down everything you spend this month and see how it adds up.
Next you need to read look at the money you have coming in. This could be from:
- student loans;
- contributions from your family.
How much do you have left when you subtract your outgoings from your income? If you don't have anything, you'll need to look at how much you spend in each area and where you can cut back.
You might also have to look at increasing your income through work. Contact Citizens Advice Bureau or an advice agency to ensure that you are getting the benefits you are entitled to, particularly housing benefit.
Don't get into debt as this is difficult to repay and will make it hard for you to budget sensibly.
Benefits, grants and loans
If you are unemployed or on a low income, you may be able to claim benefits. You should be able to claim housing benefit to help you pay your rent. You can get help to pay your deposit and rent in advance.
Where can I get help?
You can get advice on benefits from Citizens Advice Bureau or other advice centres. An adviser can help you work out which benefits you are entitled to and help you make a claim. They may also be able to sort out any problems you have with your claim, for example if it is delayed. Use the Advice Services Directory to find an agency near you.
Check out the debt section of our site for useful information on dealing with debt. The Site and the National Youth Agency's Youth Information website both contain advice on managing your finances. Although these websites are aimed at young people in England the information on budgeting and benefits applies.
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