I am not a financial expert, by any means. However, financial literacy is a skill that I hold in high esteem due to its incredible practicality. Since moving away from home, I’ve learned a lot about myself and my relationship with money and finances.
Budgeting and money management, fortunately, has always been an important topic of conversation in my family for as long as I can remember. From CDs, to interest rates, and savings accounts, the world of finance and banking can seem incredibly intimidating to approach if you’ve never discussed it with anyone before.
How people spend and save their money is a taboo subject, and has been a neglected point of conversation for many. Thus, plenty of college students are left blindsided, and are unable to budget for themselves. If you want to get started with creating a budget for yourself, and don’t know where to start, here’s a quick-start guide.
Track your spending for an entire month.
And I mean everything. Whether it’s on a spreadsheet, or scrawled on a sheet of spare paper, track every single financial exchange for an entire month.
Figure out your indisputable monthly expenses.
And no, that $6 almond milk latte macchiato on the way to your 9 am lecture doesn’t count. I’m talking bare bones here: food, electricity, rent, water. If it’s on the list of UN Fundamental Human Rights, it’s on here.
Put some of your remaining monthly income directly into savings.
The average American doesn’t even have $500 in their savings account. The percentage you save is entirely up to you and what you can afford, but the more aggressively you save, the closer you are to retirement. Treat your savings account like money you can’t touch. It’s locked away and is no longer available for you to spend, withholding emergencies, like surprise trips to the ER and unexpected car troubles.
Slash any “excessive” spending by half for the next month and see if you can stay within that limit.
Challenge yourself to stay within your spending limit. You’ll be surprised how much you can do without. Having a significantly stunted spending budget can also help influence more thoughtful purchasing decisions, thus reducing waste.