New year, new you, new budget…? Well maybe not the last part, but why not? It seems like every year you want to get your finances in order, but never truly can find time between January and December to do so. So, you just try again the next year… maybe. Well, let’s break the cycle. To say the least, I am three months into consistently keeping up with my budget, and while that isn’t a lot of time, I feel that I have some helpful information to share.
Write it down
Yes, there are apps for this kind of thing, but nothing makes knowing how much you’re spending more real than actually writing it down. Suddenly, that swipe for $100 at Madewell actually feels like $100, instead of magical money you never see leaving your account.
I know, it’s 2017 and nobody really carries cash around anymore, but holding and using physical money will also help you to realize how much you are spending at any given time. Even carrying as little as $20 bucks with you to the movies will help you realize that $12 for the movie only leaves you $8 for snacks. I know, it’s kindergarten math, but kindergarten math is all it takes to figure out where all of your money has gone at the end of the month.
Pro tip: I got this one from my mom. Always have an emergency $20 in your wallet. You’ll never know when you’re going to need it. Parking in cities, toll roads… you just never know.
Know Your Monthly Income
The point is to live below your means so that you can have/save money. The first step to living below your means is to know your means. Knowing how much money is coming in every month, is a great place to start. Write down every form of income you have and how much you make from each form every month.
Eating out always sounds better than cooking if you’re not Rachael Ray, but I’m Sydney Umeri and I can’t afford that kind of lifestyle right now. It’s important to set a reasonable limit on how much money you can spend on certain things. I allow myself to spend $100 on groceries each month (because I eat a lot) and $40 for eating out. I also budget $40 for gas and about $15 a month on laundry since I take my clothes to a laundromat to wash. #collegelife
I know, the Kylie Cosmetics lip kit is calling your name, but so are the other 10 lip products in your makeup bag that you haven’t used in the last month. I think that $20 would be better spent in your savings working towards a bigger goal like a spring break trip, after college fund, etc. Save now and you will thank yourself later, but my biggest advice is to save with an end goal in mind. This will keep you motivated to keep stashing money away.
It’s okay to mess up
Yes, there have been months where unexpected expenses have come up or I slightly overspent on one category. It’s not the end of the world. Still, stick to your budget as best you can, and then, at the end of the month evaluate it. When miscellaneous expense arose one month, the next month I was sure to allocate money towards miscellaneous spending. It’s your friend’s birthday dinner and you need to bring a gift? Use the money in your miscellaneous fund. It might take some shifting around in your budget (you might need to cut down on how many times you do extracurricular activities that cost money) but in the end, you will have money for what you need, and that’s the point.
Keep in mind that your budget is only as serious as you are about it. If you stick to it, it can truly be your best friend. It’s all about knowing where your money is going. So how are you going to save money in 2017?