Money can be a scary topic, there’s no getting around that. Student debt, taxes, retirement plans – it can seem pretty overwhelming if you’re just starting to figure out your financial situation. If there’s one thing you’ve probably heard about over and over as you’re taking your first steps into managing your money, it’s the importance of establishing a budget. While this might seem like something you can put off until you’re a working adult with a full-time job and a place of your own, it’s so important to get started early!
The basics of budgeting are pretty simple – first figure out how much money you’re bringing in and how much you’re spending on expenses. This will help you see where your money is going and how much you have left over. You can use this information to figure out how to best spend your money to cover everything that needs to be covered.
Ideally, you should be spending less than you make, so you have some “extra” money to put into savings or for unforeseen expenses. While it can be fun to spend that extra cash on a night out with your friends or that super cute dress that you saw at the store, when your car breaks down or your computer dies, you’re definitely going to wish you had saved something to help pay for those expenses.
The best way to achieve this is to track what you’re spending, whether through an app or on your own with a spreadsheet on your computer. Actually putting down on paper (or on your phone or computer) what you’re spending and where the money is going can be a real eye-opener for a lot of people. It can also give you a hard number that you have available to spend, something that might be helpful when you’re trying to decide whether you really need to buy that thing you’ve been eyeing. Being able to see how much you’ll have left for the month (or whatever period you choose) can really help you differentiate between wants and needs, which is key when trying to stick to a budget.
The most important thing though, is not which app to use or how much you save each month, but just starting. It’s never too early to sit down and really look at your financial situation. It might seem unnecessary when you’re in college, especially if you’re living on campus and not paying rent or buying your own groceries. But it’s such a good habit to get into, especially since the future and “adulting” is coming faster than you think. It’s critical to be comfortable handling your money and making these kinds of decisions before you’re truly on your own with much bigger expenses like rent or loan payments. Managing your budget is probably one of the most important things you can do while you’re in college, so get started!
Come on girl, invest in your future! You’re worth it!