What is a budget?
A budget is a predetermined financial plan showing how and where you will spend and save your money. Budgeting can be especially difficult for college students. When a student begins college they find new levels of independence and have to become more responsible for their own financial stability. Some students the will begin to realize there is a bit of a learning curve to the budgeting process. By establishing a budget, a student can identify where expenses can be reduced and savings can increase. When a college student creates and maintains a budget, they have laid the foundation for their future financial success.
How does someone start a budget?
SMMC coaches suggest that their clients track all of their cash flows (expenditures and income) for one month. At the end of that timeframe, the client should take note and categorize where each individual expense went to. These categories will depict expenses for various things like housing, food, automobiles, clothing, etc.
For example, if the client found seven receipts showing they spent $20 each time at a gas station for fuel, the client would categorize those expenses as an automobile or fuel expense of $140 for the month. SMMC coaches also ask that their clients keep track of any income they may have obtained (whether from a job, loans, or an allowance) for the month.
Is there anything I can do to help budget more successfully?
Starting a budget can be an overwhelming experience at first. By keeping track of where your money comes from and goes, you will be able to identify how your spending habits affect your current life financially. SMMC coaches have plenty of strategies/ systems on how to help their clients start a budget and, even more importantly, continue to use a budgeting system. One of the tools SMMC coaches use to benefit their clients is a program called Mint.
Mint is a website that integrates your financial data and arranges it for you in a fast and easy to read manner. Mint is a phenomenal instrument for implementing and keeping track of your budget. This website also provides you the convenience of having an app on your phone so you can budget on the fly. To sign up for a FREE Mint account go to www.mint.com. Then, if you would like to have access to the mobile version visit your app store and download the free mobile app.
A great place to help you understand the basics of budgeting would be to visit a website called CashCourse. CashCourse is a free website that helps explain many different financial matters that college students are faced with. You can set up a free CashCourse account by going to this website: www.cashcourse.org.