When it comes to handling personal finances, most college students just bumble their way along and hope for the best. But this practice is so detrimental. It’s so much better to start learning how to handle your money when you’re in college, often before you have too many bills to pay. Additionally, future you will thank you for thinking about your finances now.
The first part of beginning to budget is figuring out how much you make. Most students work variable hours, which can make this hard. However, its impossible to plan what to do with your money if you don’t even know how much you have.
After you know how much you make it’s time to look at your fixed expenses. These are things that you have to pay for every month. This can be things like rent, utilities, sorority dues, subscriptions, and more. They should cost about the same every month, allowing you to know how much you have to set aside in your budget.
Set Variable Expenses
The next category you have to account for is set variable expenses. These are things that you need to pay every month but can vary in amount. This is more like groceries, gas, etc. Go through your recent bank transactions and see about how much you pay for these items. Put aside an average amount of money that you may think you’ll need for these expenses.
Savings is the next category. I put this third because sometimes you may not have extra income to put aside for savings depending on how much your fixed and set variable expenses will cost you. Shoot to put aside at least 10% of your income, but feel free to add more if you can. Additionally, this savings should be put aside for your future, but not all of it needs to serve this purpose. If you know you have a large expense coming up (spring break, textbooks, etc), make sure you divide some of your savings to covering this expense as well.
Next you’ll need to put aside money for your variable expenses. These are things that you don’t need to spend money on, but probably will and thus should budget for. Things in this category include eating out, shopping, entertainment, etc. The amount of money that you put aside for these is up to you. It really should not be the bulk of your budget, but it doesn’t need to be an expense thats completely cut out. Be realistic with yourself when you set the amount, but understand that you shouldn’t allocate money you don’t have.
The final category for you to put money in is your personal money. This is normally just whatever is left after the other categories. You’re working hard for your money and you’re only young once, so feel free to treat yourself to some stuff every once in awhile.
Hopefully this helps give you an idea about how to start setting up a budget in college. Feel free to check out some of my other financial posts here.
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