Today let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and talk about budgeting. I know budgeting sounds scary and may bring back those memories of that grade ten “Planning” course. You know the one that was required, the one that was meant to prepare you for life outside of high school and prepare you for adulthood? Yeah, I am talking about that one! The one that was really just an annoyance and made the outline of budgeting sound like a foreign language. Well, I’m here to tell you if you still can not speak the foreign language of budging, then look no further because I have cracked the code. And it is way easier than it seems! So from one broke girl to another here is my Ultimate Guide to Budgeting and Saving as a Student including some tips, tricks, and free printables!
| What Is Budgeting? |
Before you can understand the budget you will create you must first understand what budgeting really is.
So what is budgeting you may ask?
Budgeting is the process of making a plan to spend your money and the spending is called the budget. Creating a spending plan or budget allows you to know in advance if you can afford the things you want to do or would like to do. It allows you to prioritize your wants and needs, making it easier to go and have a fun day without the worry of how much you can really afford.
| Why Is Budgeting Important? |
Now that you know what budgeting really is you need to understand why budgeting is important. Budgeting, especially as a student ensures you have the right amount of money set aside for the things need, such as a roof over your head (rent), transportation, and food just to mention a few them. Plus, it allows you to be confident that those few extra coffees’ aren’t going to put you on the short end of anything. And let’s be honest I am definitely guilty of an extra coffee or two, here and there.
| How To Make Your Own Budget |
Now that we know all about what budgeting is and why is it so important let’s start crunching some numbers! The first thing you need to do is calculate your monthly or bi-weekly income. This is the number you will be subtracting all your expenses from. Now make a list of all your “expenses” starting with the most important ones such as rent, utilities, food, gas, etc. Now add up all your monthly expenses and subtract it from your income. If you are choosing to budget monthly calculate your monthly income and monthly expenses, then subtract your total monthly expenses from your monthly income. If you are choosing to budget bi-weekly, calculate your bi-weekly income and bi-weekly expenses, then subtract your bi-weekly expenses from your bi-weekly income (this is the way I budget because it works well with my serving job).
Are your expenses less than your income? If so, good job! Congratulations!
Next, make a list of your non-essentials and assign a dollar amount to them, even if it is just an educated guess. The goal here is to almost equal out your expenses and your income. Your non-essentials may include makeup and fun spending money etc. But your non-essentials should always include, savings and miscellaneous because you never know if something unexpected will come up during the month, like needing to get your vehicle fixed (this happened to me a few months ago) or a much-needed date night or girls night.
Now if that sounds little too confusing or complicated lets break down the categories and look at how I arrange my essential expenses and my non-essential expenses, including how I found out what I spend also. Because trying to assign a random number to an expense can be hard and it does take time to perfect the amount you will spend on any given category.
| How I Started My Budget and How I Budget As a Sever |
*some of these numbers are made up to protect myself and my finances*
Step One || Calculate Income & Hours Needed
First thing I did was open up a new word document, this allows me to track want I am setting aside for each expense and what I am saving as well. At the top of the page, I calculated my income on a bi-weekly basis including how many hours a week I need to work to make this amount. Now the way I budget is a little different from the average person because I serve, meaning the majority of the money I make comes from my tips. So not overspending them is crucial. Now, since the money I can make on a bi-weekly basis in tips can fluctuate a lot that means for two weeks (payday to payday) I put all the tips into an envelope and only open that envelope on payday. Doing this makes it seem as though those tips are part of my wage, thus equaling a higher income.
Step Two || Essential Expenses & Non-Essential Expenses
The next thing I did was make a table of the breakdown of my essential and non-essential expenses.
My essentials include:
– Rent (utilities included) …
– Food $160.00
– Gas $120.00
– Vehicle Payment …
– Insurance …
– Phone Bill $90.00
After that, I started by assigning the amount of money I would spend on each essential that I knew would not fluctuate from that number, such as rent, food, my vehicle payment and my insurance. Then I assigned a number to the essential expenses I knew could fluctuate a little starting with how much it should cost then add $10.00. This prepares you for a little bit of extra travel or extra data usage and also allows you to save up for these expenses so that if you don’t have enough tips to put towards your phone bill one week you can wait out till the next week and it won’t shock you. You may wonder why I do not consider food a fluctuating expense and that is because with a budget you sometimes have to set yourself goals and not allow yourself to always spend over. This is what I do with the food expenses since I budget on a bi-weekly basis that means that if I go over a little the one week then the week after grocery shop will have to accommodate that.
Example of How I Found Out How Much I Spend on Food and Gas.
I found out how much I spend on food on a bi-weekly basis with much trial and correction. My food budget here includes not only my own food but also the break down cost of food for Lexi (my boyfriends dog I’s border collie). I started with a budget of $70.00 per week in food for me and $10.00 per week goes towards Lexi’s food. This food money is also in its own bank account so that I know exactly how much there is for food us and for Lexi.
I figured this one out by watching my driving for a few weeks. I realized that a tank of gas usually lasts me about two weeks if I am not casually driving all over and a tank of gas costs about $50-60.00 dollars, so I timed that by two and got $120.00 for my bi-weekly expense.
My non-essentials include:
My non-essentials include savings and miscellaneous. Now for this category I do not assign a number I want to put into it each payday, instead I record the extra money I have after subtracting all my bi-weekly expenses from my income. I do it this way because one, I do not make a ton of money while in school and two, it is less stressful to not feel like I have to be saving. Plus allows me to know how much money I have that can go to a week of lesser income.
Step Three || Put The Budget Into Place
Now it is time to try your budget out, you can use my word document that I have made or you can try using an app or even a printable budget tracker, there are tons and tons on Pinterest. However, I found that making my own has worked the best because I only put exactly what I need to be spending on it. And remember that the budget will not just come together over night, it is something you have to work at! But in the end, you will thank yourself. And who knows maybe you will have saved enough to go on that much needed and wanted trip.
| Tips & Tricks To Saving |
- Use different bank accounts for different experiences. Such as I do for my food expenses.
- Don’t spend those coins, put them away into a jar and you would be surprised how much can accumulate in a year or even a month.
- Sell some of those extra clothes or items in your house that you do not need or want anymore. Then add that money to your savings.
- Set goals, it is incredible how much a little goal can help when you are trying to save.
- Stop telling yourself it’s only 1 dollar or 2 dollars or 5 dollars, every coin matters and the small stuff can add up fast because it doesn’t seem like much money.