Overspending and deviating from a personal budget can happen to anyone - but students seem particularly susceptible to the syndrome. Whether you’re attending a liberal arts college or pursuing business management training, chances are you’re up against similar financial obstacles. Many students juggle their school with part-time work, and many are learning to live on their own for the first time. Thinking about budgeting is just one more unpalatable item on your to-do list, sandwiched between overtime hours and late nights at the library. But in order to stay on top of expenses and still have a little left over for fun, it’s essential to find a fool-proof budgeting method that will help keep you on track. Here are a few tips to get started:
Establish a Budget and Keep It Close By
The first step in sticking to a budget is creating one. There are so many computer programs and mobile applications at your disposal today, that creating and keeping track of a budget should actually be effortless. As a start, you should figure out what your income is and what your essential weekly, monthly, and quarterly expenses are. These may include:
- School supplies
Next, you should compare your expenses with your actual income - and this will give you a good idea about what is really left over for those non-essential (yet hard to resist) items. Finally, keeping your budget on hand at all times, either electronically on your mobile device or a printed copy in your wallet, can be a useful deterrent to over-spending.
Set Aside Some Personal Money First
Before allocating ALL of your money to pay your monthly expenses, try keeping a little aside for yourself first. Experts suggest setting aside a small amount of cash at the beginning of the month—and if you happen to stick within your means that month, then you’ll have a little extra cash to treat yourself with!
Use a Prepaid Card Instead of a Traditional Credit Card
Credit cards can be tricky because it’s very easy to lose track of how much you’ve spent and exceed your budget. A prepaid card is a great alternative - it’s just like using cash because you won’t be able to spend more that your card allows. After you’ve established your budget, you can re-charge your card to that specific amount each month.
Budgeting Can be Fun
Tap into the creative side of your liberal arts education to come up with new and fun ways to spend less. Sticking to your budget can actually provide some degree of entertainment! Try challenging yourself, or a close friend or family member, to see if you can spend less than the previous month, or than each other. If you’re a competitive person who can’t resist a challenge, this is a great way to set and meet new goals each month.
Don’t Forget to Treat Yourself
You’ve worked hard to create and maintain your budget - all while striving to achieve your liberal arts bachelor degree, so don’t forget to reward yourself for a job well done. It’s important to treat yourself once in a while, so if you haven’t been overspending feel free to go just a little wild, and indulge in something you love.