As a college student you may think that having a budget is the stupidest thing in the world. After all, budgeting is for old people, right? If you feel this way you need to reconsider. No matter how old you are a budget is very important, and this is definitely the case when you are in college.
Unfortunately, college courses rarely teach students anything about budgeting, personal finance, or how to handle money. They figure that most students should have these skills in place by the time they reach college. Of course, this is not the case with most students and probably never will be.
Just because you are not making much money, or any for that matter, does not mean you can live without a budget. Remember, it is important to know what you are doing no matter how much you are earning and spending. Here is a list of things you should do if you need to create and manage a budget for the first time as a college student:
1. Determine how much money you are going to be earning every month, if any. This will not pertain to every college student. Some will have a job, others won’t have any income, and many will only rely on what their parents give them. No matter if you earn zero dollars per month or $2k you need to know this information.
2. Know your expenses. College students are funny. While most of them don’t have any income, a large number still have quite a few expenses. If you want to set a “proper” budget it is imperative that you do not spend more than you earn. If you do you are going to find yourself begging your parents for money, selling your blood, or worse yet using credit cards.
3. Ask for help. Most college students are stubborn, there is no denying this. But guess what? You can get all the help you need if you are willing to find it. A great place to start is with your parents. Anytime you can get advice from somebody who has been in your shoes you should take it.
4. Closely track your purchases, no matter how big or small. Did you spend money at the bar last night? How about at the bookstore this morning? Be sure you track every last dime that comes out of your pocket or bank account. This will help to avoid problems when it comes to balancing your checkbook and overdrawing on your account.
5. Make list of things you “need” and things you “want.” This is often times overlooked by college students. Remember, you don’t need beer every night and a new wardrobe every weekend. You do need books, school supplies, and money for food and housing, though.