Setting a Budget

During the school year or your job search it can be important to set a budget so you don’t encounter financial trouble. While everyone’s finances are different, and your goals will change often, setting a basic budget is always a good idea.

The first step to making a budget it to add up your income. If you are not currently employed take the savings that you have and divide it evenly for the time period you are working on (per week or month or semester). Next add up your expenses. Remember to add food, gas, all bill payments and any events that are coming up (movie plans? Birthdays or anniversaries?). If you aren’t sure how much you spend on these items take a look at your online banking. Rounding up is good rule of thumb if you have to estimate so you don’t find yourself short.

Once you have these two numbers, see how they add up. Do you have enough money? Is there a little bit left over for savings or a special event? Do you have anything set aside for emergencies? Car problems, pet health issues, even the need for a new pair of work shoes can pop up when you least expect – how will you pay for those? If possible, set a goal to leave money left over at the end of the period. This will give you a bumper for surprises.

Once you have this set up try it for a week or month and track your spending’s. Was there a cost you forgot about? Did you end up short of cash at some point? Did you grossly over estimate how much you spend on groceries? Budgets are not set in stone; they can be adjusted when needed.

If you are concerned about having enough money to make scheduled payments, put your budget into a calendar when you set it up. What days do you get paid? What time on those days do you actually get the money? Will it be before or after your rent or bill payment is due? Ensure you have enough money for your withdrawal or payment before they take place.

If you find yourself in the red, it’s time to make some changes. Can you cut back on your costs? Is it necessary to take a part time or second job? There are many jobs that you can work minimal hours on giving you a bit more cash flow while you focus on school or your other job. Remember to keep some time for yourself when you can, your physical and mental health should always be prioritized. You won’t be able to succeed at school or any form of work if you are not healthy.

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