Is staying on your college budget killing you? I know it kills my college age sons! I am always amazed how fast time goes by. It seems like yesterday my boys were just starting school. Today both of them are in college! One of their biggest challenges is budgeting. Here are some helpful hints to keep on your budget. However, let me just say up front, a budget is designed to give freedom, and not to be a tool of bondage. Your budget should be a fluid document with flexibility.
Spend less than your make! DUH! This seems so obvious. However, it can be very difficult. My boys tell me that peer pressure is great and it is way too easy to spend money frivolously. A Starbucks here, and Subway there, and the next thing you know, you are out of cash! If you and your friends can make a pact to stay on budget, (only spend so much), you will have a better chance of staying within that budget.
Use the envelope system. Here is what to do. Make a list of all of your bills. Then analyze which ones make the most sense to pay with cash. Here is an example from our boys’ budget. One expense that is easy to overspend on is gasoline. The boys have budgeted $100/month. But typically this goes on the boys’ debit/credit card. It is so easy to overspend with the card. Now they place the cash for the month into an envelope. When the cash is gone, it’s gone (take the bus!) Also, remember it is so easy to rob Peter to pay Paul, but a little discipline goes a long way. Resist the temptation to take money from another envelope.
Be realistic! Know yourself! If you love to go out for a latte, it’s ok to do that! However, you need to make concessions for that in your budget. I love to go to Starbucks with my wife and sons. It is a great way for us as a family to connect. The reality of this in terms of our budget is, we can’t do this everyday! We can budget to do this once a week or so, but we have to be able to afford it! So, instead of a Venti Carmel Brulee Latte, maybe scale down to a tall cup of brew!
Your budget should give you freedom over your finances, and not be a prison sentence. Your freedom comes from knowing your money is working for you, not the opposite. You control your money, your money does not control you!