It's a given that we all like to spend money. Budgeting does not have to be a dirty word! If you think of it more as a spending plan, it may be easier to sit down and take a look at your income sources and expenses to try to get a better feel for where your money goes. The earlier you take control of your finances, the sooner you can get a handle on how money works. You don't need to have a lot of money to be successful, you just need a plan for that money.
Tracking your expenses may be the hardest part of budgeting. If you are not sure where to start, try carrying a small spiral notebook or use the weekly spending worksheet to write down your expenses on a daily basis. Then at the end of the week, total them up to see what you have spent. Or, if you have a smart phone, try an app to track your spending like Expensify or Check which are available for iOS and Android.
Try setting up a budget for the semester by using the in-school budget worksheet. Enter your information, save it, and come back to it to make changes. Remember, a budget is a work in progress and you may need to make updates periodically. A more detailed Monthly Budgeting Worksheet can be downloaded to help you track your monthly income and expenses.
Prepare a Budget Worksheet
There are many free budget software program available by doing a web search. A couple of them are provided here.
After you complete the worksheet, what happens if there are more expenses than income? You need to increase your income or reduce your expenses. Here are some suggestions:
- Do you have time to work, or work a few more hours in your current job?
- Do you have talent that you can put to work, such as teaching piano, athletic training, etc.?
- If you are on a campus meal plan, eat before you go out with friends.
- If you live off campus, cooking at home is much less expensive than dining out.
- Be a thrifty shopper.
- Collect coupons, buy store brands.
- Be aware of the little things you spend your money on. These expenses can add up a lot faster than you think, such as daily trips to the vending machines, daily lattes, music downloads, out-of-network texting, etc.
- Take advantage of free or low cost events.
- Sell/trade things you don't need or use.
- Have friends chip in to help pay for gas.
- Don't lend money to friends.