Budgeting Tips for Students
Budgeting is a challenging task for anyone, even more so for students. Especially if you are studying in the city, say a university in Manila, and whether it’s architecture, civil engineering, medicine, or the sciences that you are taking, the fact remains: money management is still a part of everyday life. You have to calculate the amount of money you need for food, commute, dorm fees, and school-related expenses while having little to no income.
Knowing how much money you should spend and where you should spend it on is very important. Being able to manage your finances is a sign of maturity and has its rewards. It is better to start learning it early. Take these tips.
Separate Wants from Needs
There are costs that are more or less set daily, with little to no adjustments. For example, your daily commute fare—as much as possible avoid the temptation of taking a cab each time you go to and from your school. Stick to public utility vehicles.
Do you really NEED that cup of overly-priced coffee, or could you settle for instant coffee instead? Making a conscious effort to avoid buying from a coffee shop daily could easily save or cost you a thousand bucks!
Tracking expenses will help in getting the hang of distinguishing things you can and cannot do without. If you are still having difficulty, try to live on a weekly allowance instead of on a debit card to avoid the risk of overspending.
Include Savings in Your Budget Expenses
One perk of budgeting is that you consciously save up. Decide on how much you’d like to save each month and include it as an ‘expense’ so it falls under the ‘need’ section. You could also set up a separate savings account where you could transfer the money you save each month. Leave the card in a safe place at home so you won’t be tempted to use it when you go out. These savings can be used for emergencies, short-term and long-term goals. If you commit to saving, you will be surprised at how much you have set aside at the end of the month!
Don’t Abuse Credit Cards
College is considered as a great time to start building credit. However, it is easy to accumulate a large amount of debt while in school, especially if it’s your first time to have a credit card! To build your credit without risking overspending and accumulating debt, try to set aside the cash equivalent each time you whip out your credit card and keep it in a safe place until it’s time to pay the monthly bill.
Keep Everything Organized
Organize all of your bills and receipts by category and date issued. Then, file them in a folder or clear book to make it easy for you to get information in case you have a bill dispute with someone or you need to know your spending history. This will keep you from looking into your bank account and wondering where you spent all your money!
Forgive Yourself If You Slip Up
It can be very difficult to stay on your budget most of the time, but it’s a learning process. No matter how disciplined you may be, there will be times when you simply have to spend more because it’s necessary. For example, you have to print handouts and contribute for sudden group projects or just happen to overspend because you were hungrier than usual. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you realize you got off track. Just forgive, move on, and do better next time.
Once you consistently accomplish your budget goals for several months, you can reward yourself for your hard work. Don’t be afraid to take a small to medium amount of money from your savings and treat yourself to a new book, shirt, or buy some sweet treats. Remember, there is nothing wrong in indulging yourself a little every now and then – just don’t clean out your savings in one go!