Making a budget can be difficult, especially as a college student. The majority of us have minimal income and are consumed by the stress of student loans that will eventually need to be paid off.
Something that I have been challenged with, as a student employee, is being paid hourly, which can cause my paychecks to fluctuate every two weeks depending on whether I pick up shifts or need one of my shifts covered. Another challenging aspect of budgeting in college can be monthly utilities. It’s hard to determine how much you will need out of your budget out if your electric bill is not consistent.
There are many apps and websites that can help you create a budget, and much of it is up to your personal preference. I have tried numerous apps such as EveryDollar and Mint. The weekly emails that gave me a summary of my spendings helped at first but ended up becoming another set of emails that I deleted before even opening. I also don’t like the idea of other websites having access to my bank account information.
After a lot of trial and error, I have grown to like the Google Sheets Monthly Budget Template the most. While you have to manually enter your transactions to the document, this actually helps me to be more conscious of what I’m actually spending my money on.
The Google Sheet Template leads you through how to create your budget and has the equations already incorporated into the document. To begin: you will enter your starting balance. I always use my checking account for this part because I never want to touch my savings [that’s for those looming loans mentioned earlier].
After this, you need to calculate how much income you have for one month. I get paid bi-weekly, so when I began making my budget, I averaged a couple of my paychecks andmultiplied it by two.
Next I list my expenses. This part is unique to you and can be different for everyone. I am currently living in a dorm, so I don’t have to pay rent, mortgage or utility bills. You want to budget as much as possible [even the tiniest things like a pack of gum]. If you don’t input one transaction, it could become a snowball effect and bad habit [trust me, I’ve been there]. For this reason, I like to make my categories broad. Then, when I enter a transaction, I describe what the purchase was specifically [i.e. if I buy a coffee it will go under the “coffee” category. When I input the purchase, I will specify by saying what coffee shop the drink was from].
A few things that I budget for as expenses are savings, subscriptions [Netflix, Hulu, Spotify], transportation [gas, car insurance, Lyft/Uber rides], food [groceries, eating out] and other personal expenses [shopping, workout plans, any excess spending from other categories].
Once you have your categories decided, you should have a good idea of how much you want to spend in each category. Do not spend more than what you’re expecting your income to be [the whole point of creating a budget is to try and avoid debt].
What are some budgeting tips you have found useful? Share with us in the comments!