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5 Beginner Budgeting Tips for College Students

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Budgeting is an important skill to learn because it lets you control your money rather than your money controlling you. When you learn how to manage your money well, you will always have money for the things you need. Budgeting your money will also help you manage student debt or even avoid it altogether, so you want to learn how to budget in college.

Everybody has to start somewhere, so here are the top 5 best ways to budget money for college students.

    1. Use a Budgeting Tool

    When you’re brand new to budgeting but not brand new to technology, a budgeting app can be the best thing for you. Downloading a budgeting app such as Mint, You Need a Budget, or Pocketgard will track your spending habits and your income and give you data and percentages of where you spend your money. Using an app is nice because you don’t need to track your spending with pen and paper.

    2. Understand Your Spending Habits

    You need to know where your money is going to create a budget. You likely already know what you like to spend money on, but it can be surprising to see how much money you spend every month. Use a budgeting app to keep track of your expenses, or write your expenses on paper or a spreadsheet. Check your credit card and bank statements to find what you missed. When you figure out where your money is going, you can then decide what you can cut out or how you can change the spending.

    3. Decide Your Budget Goal

    Without a goal, you likely won’t be motivated to stick to the budget. It’s a good idea to define your intentions so you stay focused. As a college student, there are many good reasons to start a budget. Your goal could be to save money, pay off debt, buy a car, or pay for tuition. Even just the act of thinking about your motivation will cause you to be more invested in being successful with your budget, which will in turn motivate you to stick to your budget. Top Brands Women's & Men's Fashion-Up to 75% Off

    4. Determine Where You Want Your Money to Go

    Once you define where you want your money to go, you’ll be able to deliberately move your money toward your goals. There are many theories on what the best budget is. The most popular budget is the 50/30/20 plan. Following this budget, you’d spend 50% of your income on necessities, 30% on wants, and 20% on savings or debt repayment. Dave Ramsey’s popular budget plan is a zero-based budget, where you assign every dollar you make to an expense. The difference is that you have a specific plan for every dollar, so it is much more restrictive. This plan may not work for everyone, but it can be very effective at helping you reach your goals quickly.

    5. Set Realistic Expectations

    You may feel inspired when you see how much money you could be saving when you start working on your budget, and that is good. Just remember that money management is always easier said than done, and it typically takes practice to achieve your goal. This is especially true if you have spending habits you are going to have to unlearn. If you make a mistake and go outside the budget, you can still stay on track. Don’t quit!

    Creating your first budget is your first step to managing money responsibly. Once you’ve mastered these skills, you can save money with no fear and spend with no guilt!

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    References

    “Budgeting 101: How to Budget Money.” - https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/how-to-build-a-budget/

    “How to Create a Zero-Based Budget.” - https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/how-to-make-a-zero-based-budget

    “Budgeting 101: How to Start Budgeting for the First Time.” - https://www.fool.com/investing/2018/04/21/budgeting-101-how-to-start-budgeting-for-the-first.aspx

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