Setting a budget

Photo illustration: Colin Cooper

 

Budgeting can be a hard thing for college students to get a grasp on. It may seem like a looming monster under the bed, but learning to face the monster leads to a happier, more stress free life.

Having enough money is an issue that almost everyone deals with, and chances are, if you’re a student, you’re not rolling in the dough.

Having bills to pay and consequences for not paying them can either be a dream or a nightmare; it’s all up to you.

Careless spending habits lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and anxiety-ridden. It’s easier than you think to stave off these unwanted emotions. The key to a life of living comfortably within your means is all in how you plan for it.

This means that you can still buy that new leather jacket/set of golf clubs/Xbox One or go on that trip with your friends in the summer, you just may not get to have all of them right now. Prioritization is a very important step. Figure out what you really want and save your money so you can have it.

Trisha Smith, a Business Banking Associate at Wells Fargo Bank, has some excellent tips to help young people develop good habits.

“Make sure you are opening your mail as soon as it’s received. Mail anxiety is a common thing, but avoiding your bills compounds your problem. By being less informed, you are creating the anxiety,” said Smith.

Having full awareness of your financial situation and not being afraid to make adjustments along the way will make you feel empowered. Avoiding awareness makes you powerless.

“Pay your bills on payday, rather than waiting until the due date,” said Smith, “This helps you not spend more money on less essential expenses than you have budgeted. As soon as that money is in your account, pay your bills.”

Putting a certain amount of money into your savings account for expected and unexpected charges at the same time you pay your bills goes along with this tip. If you spread the money out among several months, a surprise $600 car repair will seem much less disastrous, all because of the plan you’ve executed.

“If you’re not the only one involved in paying your bills, have weekly or bi-weekly meetings with your spouse or roommates,” said Smith, “Make sure everyone is held accountable, don’t let one person have all of the responsibility.”

Be proactive in helping others around you be more budget- conscious, especially if you are paying for something together. Awareness helps keep everyone happy.

There are many budgeting apps and websites that can help you to segment your budget correctly and coach you all
along the way. Youneedabudget. com charges a $60 one time fee to provide access to their live online classes and download their software, which makes adjusting your fluctuating budget a breeze. For a cheaper, less detailed option, try Mint.com’s free app.

Anyone can learn to budget wisely; it simply takes a small amount of dedication. The freedom gained makes the effort exerted far more than worth the trouble. Financial stability is vital to a truly peaceful existence.

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