When it comes to surviving college, you always hear about the necessity of a budget. People say, “I survived on Ramen for the majority of my years on campus,” but you never believe them until you ACTUALLY get there. College can be expensive; the books, tuition, living expenses, and other financial commitments can leave you worried about your bank account. It’s difficult to navigate your financials and track your expenses; thankfully, there are tools out there to ensure your success:
1. The Classic Envelope
You may not trust online or mobile gadgets to improve your budget, or you may love carrying cash! Both of these are completely acceptable, as you should be comfortable and confident in your budgeting skills. Gather some envelopes and write monthly categories on them such as “Food”, “Entertainment”, “Housing”, etc. The categories can be whatever you want! Decide how much you are willing to spend in each section, and put the appropriate amount of cash in the envelopes. Envelopes are a great way to visually see how much money you are working with for the month.
Mint is a money managing tool that you can download right to your smartphone! The app safely connects to your bank account and brings all your financials together in an easy-to-understand platform. It categorizes your expenses, tracks your bills, and even gives you custom tips and advice on how you can save more money based on your lifestyle.
3. Microsoft Excel
If you’re familiar with Excel, making an Excel spreadsheet can prove to be highly effective and simple to use for your budgeting needs. You can choose from a template and fill in the necessary information under the headings. Although this option may require extra effort for tracking your money, it will help you gain a better understanding of your financials.
4. You Need a Budget (YNAB)
This online gizmo is empowering to the user because it emphasizes your control. It gives you all the authority to make a plan and stick to it! This is an excellent resource if you find yourself buying impulsively. You can consult this tool and see if you have the money to spend based on your plan rather than what you think you have.
Although this isn’t a physical device you can use, it is an effective mental strategy to assist in saving your money! There are a lot of different personal goals you can set to manage your cash. You can plan to have $100 of disposable income left over from the month, which means you would probably cut down on your spending in every category across the board. You could also plan to have $20 at the end of the month left in entertainment to save for the movie you and your friends were going to see. To learn more, check out these tips for goal setting!
Yes, you! One of the most important tools you can have when budgeting is your own mind! Ultimately, it is your responsibility to keep track of your money, and you have plenty of resources to help you do that. Budgeting is completely possible, and you are more than capable of doing it if you set your mind to it. You aren’t alone in managing your money; the resources mentioned above will keep you feeling good about your financials in college. You got this!