You can better prepare for life during and after college if you learn all you can about personal budget planning. Creating a budget and sticking to it will help you save money, pay your debts and have the money you need to live. Here are just a few budget principles to try:
Use a Financial Software to Help You Save Money
The best way to approach your personal budget planning is to buy financial software, such as Quicken. Budgeting software is easy to use and can save you time and energy by automatically setting up your income and expense categories. All you have to do is input the monetary amounts for each. For example, under “expenses” you’ll find “clothing”, and all you have to do is put the amount you plan to spend each month on clothes.
If you have unique expenses that aren’t listed, you can add them yourself. After you’ve put in all the amounts for your income and expenses, you can generate charts and reports, so that you can see where you need to improve. As you spend your money, you can keep track of where your money is going by putting it in the software. It will then calculate and show you how you’ve underspent or overspent in a particular category so that you can adjust your spending or budget amount.
If you want to limit expenses and save money, don’t borrow money. Your credit card bills will only hinder your efforts. Instead, create a realistic budget to accomplish your financial goals. If you’re not making enough to meet your expenses, or if you don’t have a job, it’s time to get one or find ways to earn extra cash from home. This can seem overwhelming when you’re managing a full course load, but it can be done. Many students are doing the same thing. You can also study your past credit card bills to see your expenses and use the information to create your budget. You’ll also save money in the long run because you won’t have to pay interest or late fees.
Limit Expenses by Cooking from Scratch
Food can be one of the greatest expense categories for college students who live off campus. It can be easy to rationalize high food expenses because you have to study, go to classes or go to work. However, you don’t have to spend so much on food if you make the right adjustments in your budget. One way to do that is to plan to cook from scratch.
Figure out the ingredients for your favorite foods and see how much they cost at the store. Many supermarkets will list the unit price for each item so that you can compare brands. Once you’ve researched the costs, you can figure out the price per meal and then your food cost per month. You can cut your food budget by 25% to 50% if you cook and freeze your own meals. You can use your savings to pay rent, pay off debt or save for emergencies.
Following these three guidelines for easy personal budget planning will help you make it through the tough college years and beyond. You may also be able to use the same financial software later in life for your own family or business finances.