Money Matters on Campus is a study of the financial knowledge of new college students across the country. Over 40,000 college students (91 percent of which were first year students) were surveyed recently regarding their past financial education and current fiscal behaviors.
WOW, time to be scared
Over 40 percent of respondents said they didn’t feel prepared to manage their finances.
Meanwhile, 25 percent admitted that they continued to spend as normal, even when their bank accounts were nearly emptied out, and another 12 percent said they never checked their bank accounts because they were too afraid of what they’d see there.
If you are a young adult, college bound or otherwise… or someone trying to get it together…. this is for you. A Basic budget form is provided for you to get started.
Now this is a BIG topic and whole books and software have been created to help with it but let’s keep it simple huh… You can make it more intricate later if needed.
In its simplest form… a budget is a simple account of what you have for money minus what you spend.
You don’t need anything complicated to start. You could even just use paper and pencil if needed but be precise and document everything (or use the budget form above) from moneymanagement.org.
The main thing is figuring out how much you make/have and where it is going.
If you have MORE than you spend at the end… YEAH YOU!!! Extra cash you can decide how to spend or save (remember, saving for the future is also something you need to consider).
If you have LESS than you make at the end… it’s time to look at those expenses and see where you can cut. Maybe you can spend less on clothes, shoes, morning coffee, or start packing a lunch versus eating out. The goal is to find areas of unnecessary spending and try to cap that spending so that the total at the end of the month shows you bringing in more than you’re spending
Tracking your spending, while sometimes tedious, is the best way to find out exactly where your money is going.
Your first month is likely to be kind of ROUGH as you realize that it’s hard to get off the how you spend money. That’s OK, just keep making an effort and you’ll eventually get there. Another nasty surprise your likely to encounter is irregular expenses. Oil changes, birthday gifts, etc… things that cost money but you overlook as they are not typical expenses but htey do add up.
Once you’ve made it through a month using your budget, congratulations! You’re on the road to success! Now you can really see where the weaknesses in your budget are; you can readjust some amounts in each budgetary area and hopefully gain some funds back for other areas. Don’t worry if you still go over the first few months; it is not easy converting your mindset from an overspending one to an under-spending one. It’s you continuing the course and maintaining the budget that will help get your through.
Try to use cash more than cards. Cards don’t make you feel the value the same way and it’s easier to lost control. Pay with Cash… Maybe putting money in envelopes for various things so as to make sure you feel each of those hard earned things.
If you need still more help, you should explore the archives of The Simple Dollar, a great sight for money management. Try searching for your problem areas using the search form in the upper right of each page; entering things like credit card or saving as examples, (links attached for some help) which will point you to many useful tips and ideas for how to rearrange your finances a bit.
Just remember that you’re not alone and everyone who takes control of their finances goes through the tough process of learning how to do it just like you.
It gets easier. I promise.