In college, most people don’t tend to be all that concerned with creating budgets. It is a simple thing to do, but people in my age group don’t see the value in it. It isn’t required in their eyes, and therefore they shouldn’t have to do it. I’ve had some of these feelings myself. It’s easy to just spend your money and not keep track of it, but it could really harm you in the future. If you create and stick to a budget, you will no doubt be wiser about how you spend your money, which will likely help you save significantly.
However, most college students aren’t going to put in the time to write-up a detailed budget, complete with all expected expenses and incomes, and then track everything they spend. Realistically, that just isn’t going to happen. So what I suggest is a rough budget, one that only takes into account broad spending categories, and doesn’t go into too much detail. This won’t help out as much as a full on detailed budget will, but it will help get you on the right path. Creating one can be simple. Do so either in a spreadsheet on your computer, or even on a sheet of paper. The beauty of a rough budget is that it doesn’t have to be detailed for it to be effective. First, look at how much money you are going to make for the month. Make sure you take into account taxes and side revenues. Also add in any scholarships you receive, and divide them by 12 to get your monthly share of that money. Do the same thing if you are getting contributions from family members for your education. Then look at what you’re spending every month. Take your tuition cost and divide by 12 to get your monthly share of that. Same thing for room and board, or add in your rent if living off campus. Estimate how much you spend on food, eating out, entertainment, and transportation. Add these all together to get your total expenses. Now analyze these closely. Are there any areas where you’re spending too much? If you’re spending $400 a month eating out with your friends, or some other extreme case like that, then you need to immediately take action to get out of some bad habits. Frugality is something that will help you immensely in the future, and its best to start practicing it now. Also, if you manage your money well now, you’ll have less debt to pay off later in life.
Keep track of how much you spend for the next month. You don’t have to save every receipt, just look at your totals on credit cards, bank statements, etc, and make sure you came in under budget. Ideally, you’ll set even more budgeting goals for the next month. If you track your money, even just casually, you are significantly more likely to be successful in managing it, even if you are just a college student.