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Young people and budgeting

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 TV licence, will suddenly be coming out of your pocket.

How do I draw up a budget?

The best way to draw up a budget is to add up all your outgoings and all your income, then subtract the outgoings from the income and hope that there's something left over!

Outgoings

First of all, write down all your outgoings, that is, 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 if you have your own place and how much they will cost:

  • rent
  • electricity and/or gas bills
  • telephone bill
  • council tax (your council's website should give you an idea of how much this will be. Remember, if you're a full-time student or under 18 years you don't have to pay council tax.)
  • home contents insurance
  • television licence (at the moment a colour TV licence costs £145.50 a year)
  • prescriptions and healthcare - check if you are entitled to any help with health costs.

Then work out how much you spend a month on:

  • mobile phone
  • credit card and loan repayments
  • travel
  • food
  • toiletries
  • clothes
  • cigarettes
  • going out
  • other expenditure (CDs, books, presents etc.)

Income

Next you need to write down all the money you have coming in. This could be from:

  • wages
  • benefits, grants or loans (see below)
  • student loans
  • contributions from your family.

If you take away your outgoings from your income, how much do you have left over? If you don't have anything, you'll need to look at how much you spend in each area and find out where you can cut down. You might also have to look at ways of increasing your income through work, and it is always worth visiting your local Citizens Advice or other advice agency to ensure that you are getting the benefits you are entitled to.

Benefits, grants and loans

If you are out of work or on a low income, you may be able to claim benefits. Check out the following pages to find out more:

You may also be able to get help to pay your deposit.

Where can I get budgeting help?

  • You can get advice on benefits from Citizens Advice or other advice centre. 
  • Call the Young Scot information line on 0808 801 0338 (lines are open Monday to Friday, 10am-6pm) for advice on financial products and services, and help with money problems.
  • The National Debtline website has lots of useful information on budgeting and dealing with debt, including self-help packs you can download.
  • The Site features further advice on managing your finances (this is mainly aimed at young people living in England, but the information on budgeting and benefits applies equally to Scotland).
  • The MoneySavingExpert website has a really useful budget planner that you can download and use to help you work out how much you spend and how much you can save.

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
Get advice if you're England

The important points

  • If you're a full-time student or under 18 years old you don't have to pay council tax.
  • If you need any medication or healthcare, check if you can get help with these costs.

If you're still looking for help, try searching, or find out how to contact us

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