It’s no secret that as college students, one must be frugal with their funds. But what do you do if you have no experience or guidance on budgeting and managing your money? It can seem downright overwhelming. Here are some helpful guidelines to help make your spending process more manageable.
Record Your Spending
It’s easy to let that money slip right through your fingers. Keeping a running log of what you are buying and how much you are spending is a great way to keep yourself in check. The frivolous purchases and unnecessary spending can really start to stack up if you’re not paying attention. At the end of the month, look at how much you’ve spent and how much you’ve put away; you’ll be surprised at just how easy “adulting” can really be. This will give you a reference from which you can set up your monthly budget, spending allowances, and savings.
Determine and Discern Your Wants From Your Needs
I know, I know…these newfound freedoms to college living can be quite liberating. You are out and on your own, and free to buy what you please. When I got my first apartment, I ate nothing but Crunch Berries for like two weeks. It’s easy to make those purchases to satisfy your wants, but it’s a slippery slope that can be very damaging to your wallet. It takes a lot of discipline to identify and control purchases based needs and wants, but it teaches you how to manage your funds and lends perspective to your future spending.
Set Up a “Rainy Day” Fund
Murphy’s law has proven itself true time and time again. You will have unfortunate and unpredictable problems that arise; setting up an emergency savings is a great way to brace yourself for when the unexpected happens. Any number of unforeseen expenses could put you in a hole that could take months to dig your way out of, if you are not prepared. Incrementally, you’re not putting a lot away each pay period, but that emergency savings will stack up and you’ll be happy you have it when the unexpected arises.
Avoid Impulse Spending
Formulate shopping lists before you go grocery shopping. This will give you some structure to adhere to. There is a strategy called the “48-Hour Rule” which says that if there is an item that you wish to purchase that you hadn’t planned on purchasing in the first place, wait 48 hours to feel out just how bad you still might want that item. Impulse is a very easy emotion to give into on the spot, but it’s lasting affects can be quite diluted and not nearly as convincing.
Remember to Treat Yourself
Along with your “rainy day” fund, you should also be putting away some money each month/pay period for yourself. It’s easy to determine how much you can allow yourself once you budget out all of your necessary expenses. The important thing to remember is that it’s your money, you worked hard for it, and you deserve to treat yourself here and there.
Discussing money has always been a point of contention for many people. But the slightest amount of finance knowledge can be incredibly helpful in the long run. Here is my last piece of advice, and it might be the most important advice one could get when it comes to their financial future: It’s NEVER too early to start retirement savings. Compound interest can be your best friend, especially if you start saving in your early 20’s. It’s like Dave Ramsey says, “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”