Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Saving money, investing in good habits

One thing I will admit to anyone who asks is that I’m not great with money. Sure, I have a little in my savings account right now, but that wasn’t always the case.

Take this past fall for example; in September alone I spent almost $600. Looking at that bank statement broke me to tears. How in the WORLD had I spent that much money? What could I possibly have spent it on? The answer: complete and utter nonsense.

Having a budget is a great way to keep yourself from wasting money and makes you feel a little guilty when you do. Through a lot of trial and error, I've created a simple way to chart my spending and even save some of the money I’m making.

Here’s how it works

Start by looking at your bank statement from the last month. Categorize your spending and write down how much money you spent in each category.

Create as many or as little categories as you want, don’t be afraid to be specific. Don’t forget to include any money you receive from your parents, working a job or taking out of your savings. I suggest making a chart that looks something like this:
  • Gas: $30 
  • Groceries: $50 
  • Going Out: $25 
  • Takeout: $15 
  • Coffee: $10 
  • Necessities (books, utilities etc.): $100 
  • Total money spent $230 
  • Total money received $250
Next, estimate how much money you will receive in a certain amount of time, whether it be monthly or bi-weekly. Add this amount to the bottom of your chart so you can keep track of the money you have leftover at the end of your set time period:
    Total money made: $250
Look at the list of categories from last month. Condense, remove and adjust these categories so they’re realistic to what you can afford. Do you really need to budget in a Marshalls trip every week? Probably not. Do you need groceries? Definitely.

Taking into account the money you’ve spent in these categories in the past, set a dollar limit that you’ll allow yourself to spend in each category. For example, if you spent $50 on groceries, it’s probably a good idea to give yourself a little cushion, so set your limit to $70.

At the end of the time period, your chart should look something like this:
  • Gas: $15/$30 
  • Groceries: $70/$60 
  • Going Out: $10/$15 
  • Takeout: $5/$15 
  • Necessities: $100/$100 
  • Total money made $250 
  • Total money spent $200 
  • Total money leftover $75
With this budget in place, you should be able to save money and start good habits for when you graduate and have bills (and student loans) to pay. Get started early! If I could do one thing in my college career differently, it would be this.

— Danielle Backowski, senior mass communications major #HuskyLife

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