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With all the expenses that come with adulthood (bills, food, rent, etc.), how do you balance them all and anticipate surprise costs?

All of these expenses add on top of your student debt, so how do you handle them for a stable financial future? student-loans student-debt debt financial-planning financial-aid financial-services scholarships money-management

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Rijbergen (Jeff)’s Answer

The best thing is to always maintain your fixed cost (rent, bills) as low as possible. Your variable cost , which includes surprise cost , becomes more manageable as a result . Food can be a fixed cost or variable cost depending on your lifestyle . Hope that helps

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Simona’s Answer

Hello Madeline,
When you juggle multiple priorities, it is hard to see what is the most important. My recommendation is to have a good mix. It is always best to pay your bills first. If you have any extra after then you should immediately start saving an emergency fund for those surprises. It can be as little as $10-$200/month. Even if you start small, the idea is to get into the habit. I am adding the links to some articles that would be great for you to get started on. They will cover the basics of budgeting and starting an emergency fund. Take the advice and tips that make sense for you and implement if you can. Good luck getting started!
Budgeting:
https://www.thebalance.com/budgeting-101-1289589
https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2013/10/18/8-steps-to-creating-a-personal-budget
https://www.thebalance.com/managing-money-budget-basics-1289559
https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/the-truth-about-budgeting/
https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/09/28/budgeting-millennials/16272309/
Emergency Fund:
https://investor.vanguard.com/emergency-fund/
http://bertmartinez.com/emergency-fund-the-basics/
https://www.investopedia.com/personal-finance/how-to-build-emergency-fund/
https://money.usnews.com/investing/articles/2016-12-01/how-to-build-an-emergency-fund
https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0810/why-you-absolutely-need-an-emergency-fund.aspx
Hi Madeline, that's a great question! It's all about budgeting budgeting budgeting! I use an Excel spreadsheet to track all my income and expenses. I categorize each expense (mortgage, home insurance, car insurance, utilities, entertainment, personal shopping, travel, etc.). This helps me understand where I am spending the most and also helps me identify areas I can reduce spending. E.g. I cannot control my mortgage expense but I can control (i.e. reduce) my personal shopping or my entertainment expenses. Also, read the below. It's a nice guide to start off with. https://www.daveramsey.com/baby-steps/ Good luck! Minaz Mavany
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Simeon’s Answer

It depends on the approach that you want to use. Some people use an envelope approach where they put the budgeted amount for different purchases in different envelopes (real or virtual) and once an envelope is empty, no more purchases come out of that bucket. For our family, we print off the expenses from our bank account each month and categorize them to see where and how we spent money to see if we need to make any changes. When you've done a few of these cycles, you can figure out what the average expense per category is every month and make predictions about what your financial needs are going to be. Definitely take some time to sit down and try to type up a full list of expenses you might have upfront and see if you earn enough to cover those expenses.
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Sean’s Answer

Base your spending on your income, no on what you want. Plan to save 20-25% of what you make so you can easily pay for emergencies when they come, and they will come.


Live minimally, save, invest, and work to increase your income over the course of your career. As your income increases, both your lifestyle and savings should increase too.

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