Budgeting for the average student

Photo from flickr.com
Photo from flickr.com

Macy Sliman, Staff Writer

There is always that point everyone comes to in their life when they panic about money. We all get there. There it is, at the end of the month where you are waiting on that paycheck to come in and save you from all the bills you have to pay, and then, of course there is that movie you want to see with your friends. You are sitting there wondering where the last paycheck went because there is no way you could have spent it all. Maybe there are ways to avoid this gut wrenching feeling every single month. Here is a simple way to start holding on to the money you worked hard for, be able to pay all your bills and have money left over to spend on fun things.

Now, the goal of this exercise is to make you more aware of what you spend and to help you not spend more than you make in a month. I like to put money away in a savings account each month. This helps if you get in a bind and need some emergency money. Open a separate account other than your actual bank account. That way, you can remember to leave it alone unless you absolutely need it.

I talked to business professor, David O’Bannon, who can be considered a pro in the field of saving. He agreed with me, saying,

“Putting the discipline of saving money and tithing into practice so early is such an invaluable skill, and you will see the fruits of this labor for the rest of your life. It also helps you see the fact that time [plays a role in] the growth [of] that savings.”

Wise words. So let us begin. First, you will need a little money planner. They do actually have them at the store. I know, crazy. Invest in one. They are great.

Second, write down what you make each month. Now, the first thing I do is tithe. I know this is a super personal thing between you and God, but it helps to write it down in your budget so you will have it as part of what you are spending (I usually do 10% of what I make, but this is up to each individual). Then subtract what you will put in savings every month. I like to do 10%, just like tithing.

After you have done these basic steps, you can go even further and separate what you normally spend into categories. My categories are gas, fun stuff, food and pharmacy. Yours will probably be different, so just use whatever you normally spend the most money on over the month. You can probably find this info on your online bank statement if you use a debit card.

When you have separated the categories, set a limit for yourself on how much you will spend on each one. This limit should not necessarily equal what you have left of your paycheck. I usually like to see how much I spend on each category and then set my limit smaller than that amount each time. This way you save more money and gain a little self-control in the process.

Something else that helps me is to write everything down in your little money planner. This physical act of being aware of what you are spending helps you not want to spend as much.

My hope is that my way of saving money helps! Spend well, my friends.