2 answers

What is the best way to stay on top of your financial status to make expenses responsibly but to not be too overwhelmed?

Asked Havertown, Pennsylvania

2 answers

Mohan’s Answer

Here are a few tips that will make you financially responsible while you are in college:

a) Set a monthly budget and track your budget diligently.

b) Anticipate the unexpected (e.g. your car may need an emergency repair) and set aside money for such unexpected expenses in your budget.

c) Control your "impulse buys". Whether you are in a store or buying something online, don't just buy something on an impulse. Rather, sleep over it for a night or two and ask yourself the following questions:

Do I really need it? How will my life change after I buy this? Will it make me happier? Will I really be using it as much as I think I will? What other priorities do I have that I can spend this money on?

Once you answer these questions, you will make a more rational decision on whether you want to make the purchase or not.

d) Get started on learning about saving for the future. It will be good if you can actually set up a savings account and start contributing to it.

e) Try to limit your student loans. You will ultimately have to start repaying the loan when you get out of college. The lesser you borrow now, the lesser you will have to pay back after you start earning.

I hope these tips help you get fiscally responsible.

Kim’s Answer

Updated San Antonio, Texas

I recently retired, so, am sort of in the same boat! Money is tight. I made a spreadsheet to track my expenses, and it includes columns differentiating between "wants" and "needs." It is interesting to see where money REALLY goes. I break out my "grocery" receipt, with a column for "household needs" such as lightbulbs/laundry detergent, and "personal needs" deodorant/toothpaste; and OTC medicines such as allergy meds and cough syrup. Many times, very little is going for food! I also have a column for eating out, and one for "munchies" (money thrown away in vending machines!) Whenever I come home, the first thing I do is log my expenses. Somehow, just the thought that I am going to have to "report it" makes me think twice about spending it. If you want to go high tech, there are banks that have all kinds of apps for doing this. Unfortunately, I am not familiar with them.

I am not into it, but there are a lot of apps and a lot of coupons. Get familiar with them. And programs that give you cash back, be it a credit card, ebates, etc.

Learn about and create an "emergency fund." It is much cheaper to "borrow" money from your own savings and pay it back, than to pay interest to somebody else, either for a loan or as credit card interest.