Heading off to college represents a number of firsts. For many students, it’s the first time they are in direct control of their money. A budget can help you manage your spending to save for short-term needs – like books for the upcoming semester – and future goals, such as a spring break vacation with friends. Putting together a budget requires time and effort. FSB offers the following steps to create a budget:
- Be a Spending Sleuth. Track every penny you spend for a month. Keep receipts and write everything down. This will be an eye-opening experience and will help you see where you can cut back.
- Count Your Money. Determine the total amount of money coming in. Include only your take home pay (your salary minus taxes and deductions). Your income may also include tips, Federal work study, an allowance, financial aid and scholarships.
- Itemize, Categorize, Organize. Review the records and receipts you’ve been collecting over the last month. Categorize your spending using a budget sheet like the one provided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- He Shoots, He Scores. Set a realistic financial goal and develop your budget to achieve that goal. Subtract your monthly expenses from your monthly income. Find ways to cut spending and set limits on things like entertainment expenses.
- Save, Save, Save. Make one of your financial goals to save a certain dollar amount each month. Start an emergency fund if you don’t already have one. You never know when you may need it.
- Stick to it. Keep track of your spending every month. Update your budget as expenses or incomes change. Once you achieve your financial goal, set another.