Growing up, our parents are always talking to us about budgeting, trying to instil the habit in our lives of saving and sticking to a strict breakdown. Most of us don’t really give budgeting much thought during our adolescent years, however, when entering the college/grown-up world, it becomes a necessity. So here are some tips to get you going and figure out how to master at least this aspect of adulthood!
First step, write down all your reoccurring monthly expenses, the huge blocks that you know you have to pay regularly (ex. Tuition payments, car payments, insurance, gym membership, subscriptions, etc.) By mapping out these regular expenses you can see where your money is going, where you have spending room and/or what items you could cut out.
Now that you have your regular spending blocks set aside, think about how much you spend on other stuff such as gas, food, personal items, etc. These are the categories that fluctuate each month and where it is really easy to spend above your means. One thing I like to do is establish categories (gas, food, personal expenses, etc.) and then look at how much I spend on average and try to find a balance.
Take advantage of online tools and apps. The one that I personally swear by is Mint.com (they have the app for both Android and iPhone). They track your spending, allow you to set budgets and track it for you, and so many other features. For a busy college student trying to manage their own expenses, this is a heaven sent. It is definitely worth checking out to help keep track of expenses.
The hardest part about a budget is sticking to it. So until the habit develops you really need to watch your spending. One thing that helps me is I have my boyfriend by my budget inforcer, he will even listen to me talk about how there is something I want to buy and will remind me if I have the budget for it or not (then listen to me complain if I don’t LOL!).
Side tips, one way I made extra money was from being a note taker for the disability center. At Concordia they paid me $20 a unit for the classes I took notes for and all I had to do was take clean and decent notes then go to the office and photo copy them. Done. Also, on campus jobs are great because they will work around your schedule more so than most part time jobs.
For more budgeting tips, Mint.com has a blog, newsletters and advice forums and two webpages I went to were Yahoo Finance and Debt.org.
Hope these tips helped and, as always, good luck! <3 Kimmie