By Jasmeen Holder aka minimalistgrl
Do you have goals or a wish list you struggle to complete due to a lack of funds? Or are you overwhelmed with bills and can’t see your way out of the endless loop?
As a full-time college student, the struggle is real when it comes to balancing your finances. As we get older, we gain more financial responsibilities, and it is important to make sure we have enough money in our accounts to cover these expenses. These expenses include school purchases, food, housing, and fun excursions.
When most people hear budget, they associate it with a negative meaning. Some people don’t like having restrictions on their finances, but budgeting does not mean restriction; rather, it is an organized plan that tracks your spending. The purpose of budgeting allows us to be intentional with our finances. Budgeting does not keep you from doing the things you love. Instead, it provides you with responsibility and financial comfortability to continue doing what you love!
- Calculate your monthly income vs. monthly spending
Get yourself a notebook, excel sheet, or app that allows you to outline your monthly income. You will give yourself an estimated gross amount if you have multiple sources of income. Now do the same with monthly spending. Go back into your bank statements or check your receipts and calculate how much of your income you are spending. In this outline, you will include both bills and free spending. I recommend creating a new outline each month; income and spending are always subject to change. Having a living outline allows your budgeting to stay current.
- Outline necessities- bills you must pay
Now that you have everything outlined, now it is time to focus ONLY on your necessities. Necessities are bills you are obligated to pay. You need to make sure the money you have coming in can cover these necessities no matter what. Once these expenses are covered, you can strategize for other saving goals.
- Outline financial goals
Good, you outlined all your necessities! It is time to focus on your needs and consider your financial goals. These goals can be savings based or to buy something you have been eyeing for a while.
- Paying off debt/cautious of credit card spending
You can’t grow your finances when you are stuck in recurring debt. Using credit cards to solve debt problems is not smart because it is a temporary fix that intensifies the problem. Find apps or methods that can help get your owed balance to 0! According to Experian, the best debt payoff apps for 2022 are Payoff Planner and Qoins.
- Use a money-saving challenge
Transferring money into savings is boring. Try out a money-saving challenge that intrigues you to save money. Whether it is the $5 challenge, where you save every $5 you come across, or you use an envelope with random cash amounts you can slip in. Give yourself a time frame on these challenges to see the result in a lump sum.
With any budgeting plan, it is a conscious decision to be frugal with your spending. Not every purchase has to be grand, and you don’t always need the latest drop. Learn how to do different skills to cut down on spending. Youtube is your best friend as there are tutorials on almost anything. Tips: Meal prep vs. eating out, reduce going out to around 1-2 a week, and carpool with friends to cut down on gas prices.