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How do you make a budget in college?

I find it really hard to make a budget. #saving #budget


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Case’s Answer

A budget is something very personal that you have to commit to, an app isn't going to make the change to your personality.

When you say its hard to make a budget, do you mean actually write out the numbers or that its hard to stick to it and not spend?

If its hard to MAKE the budget, there are a lot of good suggestions here: use an app, use excel, use the envelope method, etc.

If its hard to STAY on budget, that is different. You could try making a challenge out of it. Look at how much you spend on fast food one month, then the next month try to reduce just that one category by ~10% or something. You need to track your spending either daily or frequently. If you wait until the end of the month, then its too late to do anything about it. You could try something like: only getting fast food once every 3 days. If you online shop, put something in your cart and wait 24-48 hours before clicking "buy". You might find out that you dont really need that item and delete it out of your cart.

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Jonathan’s Answer

Great question and concern. Honestly, making a budget can be hard in general, in or out of college. I suppose most people assume it's easier to "budget" when you have money, but that's not necessarily true because it's all relative to your spending. In order to make a budget, I would start by writing down all the ins and outs of money in an average month. You can either do this on paper, electronically, or by using a digital app such as mint. The top of the budget should be any money inflows for the month. Everything below that should be your monthly spending/expenses. The spending/expenses part is very important when making a budget because you want to be as detailed and as honest with yourself as possible (e.g. if you think you only spend $100/month on food, be conservative and make it $200/month, because most likely your underestimating your actual spending). Once you list out all the ins and outs in detail and get down to your bottom line, or disposable cash, the next step is making decisions based on what your goal is. Consider all of the expenses that you listed out, see which ones you can easily cut back out (e.g. if you eat out a lot, consider limiting yourself to 1 takeout night a week, or if you buy a lot of material items, consider which of those purchases you simply "want" versus actually "need"). In short, be as detailed as you can so you can identify some high spending areas that you could look to improve on. Also, getting a part time job could also really help, but with the extra money coming in don't change your spending. Keep cutting back on spending and saving the cash!

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Judson’s Answer

I personally use mint.com and find it very useful. It will track all transactions from linked accounts so it's very easy to understand where you spend your money. Also has a great budgeting tool that I love. There's an app that is good on the go, but the PC version has more functions. It's free, just have to deal with ads. I love it and use it almost everyday for tracking and to stay on budget.

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Blake’s Answer

Hey Claudia,

There are many, many apps that can help you budget. I am pretty old school and I do it in excel. What you need to do is map out everything you spend your money on first, so you can see if you have any opportunities (i.e. you eat out at restaurants 5 times per week, maybe try cooking one of those days). The main thing about starting to save, is that you don't need to save outside of your comfort zone. Whatever you feel you can comfortably save each week do that, but stay consistent and don't withdraw the money. Even if it's a dollar a week, it will get you in the habit of saving. After a while, it will become easier and easier to save.

Thanks,
Blake

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Carlos’s Answer

There are alot of free apps that help with this and not only will they help with budgeting but you will increase your financial literacy.

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Dr. Fonda’s Answer

Try using a budget program on your computer so you have a visual on how much money you have coming in and where you are allocating money.

Dr. Fonda recommends the following next steps:

Use a computer program to make a budget and follow follow the plan daily.
Have you heard of the envelope budget? You put money in a separate envelope for what you are going to spend on for the month. If you run out of money in one envelope and need more, you can borrow from another envelope you have extra money inside. When you have extra money at the end of the month put it in savings.

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