College Budgeting 101
As college students with many financial obligations, it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of our money. It only takes a few purchases and the next thing you know, you can find yourself behind on rent, short on cash, and maybe even calling home for some extra help. Luckily, all it takes is a few minutes to budget and your money will be well-managed for that future time period. This article is all about helping CWIB’s members get better at controlling their finances. Once you graduate and enter the real world, you are going to have a lot more expenses to keep track of, so why not start practicing now?
Where To Start
Sometimes we make purchases without thinking. Start by looking through your bank account and keeping track of what you spend. Whether it’s in an excel spreadsheet or in a physical notebook, writing down your purchases is helpful for looking back and seeing which areas you’re spending too much in. Excel even has multiple templates that will analyze your spending and saving for you. All you have to do is plug in the numbers!
Getting Down to the Numbers
In the same notebook or spreadsheet, make a list of your expenses for the month and allot a specific amount of money to cover these expenses. For example: rent-$500, groceries-$45 per week, gas-$80, and entertainment-$60. Don’t forget to set aside money for miscellaneous purchases, such as lunch with a friend, Benny’s on Friday night, or school supplies. If you find that you’re having trouble with spending more than you budgeted for miscellaneous spending, take cash out of your bank account and use that instead. Then once it’s gone, don’t take out more until the next month/week.
Budgeting With Your Phone
If you want to keep a closer eye on your budget and expenses, using a mobile app is a great way to go! Here is a list of some apps that not only make budgeting even easier, but will also remind you when to pay your bills, calculate your credit score, and more!
1. Mint: Personal Finance & Money – This app is free and puts all your financial statements in one place, tracks your spending and credit score, and reminds you to pay your bills.
2. Fuget: Budget Planner Tracker – A free app (that also offers an upgrade for purchase) that keeps budgeting simple and easy. This tool tracks income and expenses and maintains a balance so you know how much you have left to spend.
3. Clarity Money Budget Manager – Besides helping you find and cancel unnecessary subscriptions, track expenses and savings goals, and keep tabs on your credit score, this app is completely free!
4. EveryDollar Easy Budgeting App – With optional in-app purchases available, EveryDollar offers free features of a personal budget planner, expense tracker, connections to savings experts, and more.
Saving? What is That?
Trying to save up for a new laptop or that new outfit you want to buy? Set specific saving goals with a certain item in mind to motivate yourself. Try to put small amounts of money every week or month and save up for it a little at a time. In some mobile banking apps, you can set savings goals within your savings or checking accounts and when you put money into that goal, they’ll keep track of how close you are to reaching it.
If you sit down and spend a few minutes every week or month to dedicate to organizing your spending, budgeting will become a breeze! Keeping track of what you purchase, taking out cash for spending and setting specific saving goals will help you stop stressing about money so you can focus on your classes and preparing for your future!