Itís 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 donít 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 for that" to track your spending.
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.
There are many free budget software programs available by doing a web search:
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 Ėof-network texting, etc.
- Take advantage of free or low cost events.
- Sell/trade things you donít need or use.
- Have friends chip in to help pay for gas.
- Donít lend money to friends.