Managing your spending money is an important skill to learn as a college student–it’ll continue to be relevant and useful throughout every stage of your life. You’ll see a lot of financial advice out there for how to save money, how to get discounts and deals, and how to invest, but remember, you’re allowed to spend money too! Approaching your spending money thoughtfully is a good way to start. Here are some other tips to help you.
Set your budget.
In order to know how much money you have to spend each month on personal things and entertainment, you’ll need to develop a budget first. It may seem like a daunting task, but it’s totally worth the time it takes to get yourself financially on track. Check out our post on budget trackers to help you get started. When developing your budget keep in mind to set money aside for both long term savings and savings for emergencies or other unforeseen costs that might come up.
Place a limit on spending.
As a college student, a lot goes into your budget. There’s textbooks, groceries, gas for your car, and much more. But what do you do with the money that’s leftover? You can spend that money on whatever suits you–concert tickets, ordering Grubhub, movies, impulse purchases on Amazon–but make sure you have a set limit on that spending. You don’t want to overspend and throw your entire budget out of whack.
Track where the money goes.
This one is crucial! Save your receipts and write down exactly what you’re spending money on. You can use a physical notebook, Google Sheets, or an app. In fact, there are many free apps to track your money. The technique doesn’t really matter–the main point is you’re doing it. You’re paying attention. You may notice trends that surprise you–”I spent how much on late night garbage plates?! Yikes!” Tracking your spending can be an eye-opening move.
Pay attention and make adjustments.
Once you’ve had those little moments of realization, it’s time to start making small changes. You may not need to overhaul your budget completely, but you can start tweaking it. You may be spending more in one area and less in another. Budgets aren’t meant to be a static document; they’re dynamic and constantly changing based on your life, needs, and wants. Make those adjustments so your budget is an accurate and helpful tool for managing your money.