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Dealing with occasional costs

Dealing with occasional costsSome costs, like Christmas presents and course materials, don't come along every month. Try these tips to bring them into your budget.

Plan ahead

Big costs can creep up on you if you don't keep an eye on them. Setting reminders on a phone or online calendar for events like Christmas or birthdays can help you to prepare.

This is especially useful for costs that come along regularly but aren't tied to a specific occasion. For example, if you pay a membership fee for a club every year, you might not even remember what month it's due in - which makes for a nasty surprise when the money leaves your account.

Planning ahead also helps you to save money, as you'll have more time to shop around and find the best deals - and you won't have to pay extra for next-day delivery when you forget that important birthday present.

Break it up

Christmas comes but once a year, but the cost doesn't have to. If you work out how much you will spend on occasional costs, you can divide it up and try to put enough aside during the rest of the year.

Remember that the money you have coming in may vary through the year, depending on when your loan is paid, and whether you work during term and the holidays or not. Since many students have holiday jobs and don't go out as much as during term time, the holidays can be a great time to set some extra money aside.

Expect the unexpected

You can't see every one-off cost coming - but that doesn't mean you can't prepare. If you can set some money aside in case of emergencies, you won't panic when they come up.

Of course, it's not always possible to save, especially for students, so it's important to be aware of what you can do if an emergency comes up and you don't have the cash. If you're at university, the Access to Learning fund can help you to deal with unexpected expenses that could stop you studying otherwise, such as a bill you can't pay.

For less catastrophic costs, you'll have to look elsewhere. Understanding your budget will help, as you'll be able to work out where you can cut back to cover the extra cost.

For things you can't do without, such as a laptop you use for your course work, insurance can help to prevent a disaster. However, if you never need the insurance then your money is gone, so you need to think carefully about whether it's likely to be worthwhile for you.