Budgeting as One of the Biggest Challenges of the Modern World
Nov ’19 Financial Champion
Whether you are 18 years old or 90 years old, budgeting can be a hard concept in the world we live in. America has become all about consumerism, and “bigger is better.” The more beautiful your things are, the more highly regarded you are.
Whether we believe this is true or not, the fact of the matter is we live in an expensive world. In this expensive world, we must find a balance that allows us to spend money but also be responsible for it at the same time.
As an 18-year-old leaving for college, we are bombarded with new-found freedom most of us have yet to experience. However, with this freedom comes great responsibility, and the “A” word; adulting! Setting aside money for things such as groceries, tuition, and gas is the not-so-fun side of “adulting.”
As a student of a private university, saving money to pay off tuition and loans is even more difficult considering the amount of money paid to attend our first-choice school. The few months I have been in college and had to “adult,” I have had to face the hard concept of saving money.
As my first semester at California Lutheran University came to an end, I found several different ways to budget very beneficially. Below there are listed just a few concepts that can dramatically save money and allow one to budget more effectively.
The first way I have found budgeting to be a little easier is to have some goals in mind. This goal can be either long term or short term, although the long term is better. With a goal in mind, there is motivation to save money. One goal to always keep in mind is the “big” things you pay for, including gas, groceries, phone bill, or student loans.
These big things should take priority over smaller expenses like shopping or eating out. Before I spend that $5 on coffee or $20 on a t-shirt, I think about whether I have money to pay for gas or laundry that month. Keeping a goal in mind, whether short term or long term, motivates to save up money and put it towards other, more important things.
Another way to budget is to keep a balanced checkbook. It may be easy to rely on a banking app to keep track of your spending, but it is even easier for that app to be wrong, leaving you with an incorrect balance and a loss of money.
As much of a hassle as it may be, I have learned that keeping a physical, balanced checkbook is a good way to visualize how much you are spending and on what. Whether it is the guilt trip or the realization I’m spending money on pointless things, keeping a checkbook has seemed to work. Checkbooks lay out how much money you’re spending on “big” and “small” expenses. From there, a goal can be set into place or even a budgeting plan.
Budgeting plans are important because one should consider all expenses there will be in college. These expenses range from textbooks, food, gas, laundry, student loans, travel, shopping, and other fun activities.
An excellent strategy is to estimate how much these different things will cost you each month and prioritize. Obviously, the more important expenses are textbooks, laundry, and gas, so this is where you should be spending your money initially.
In addition to this, it is always wise to keep a little emergency money in your bank account. This emergency money is for unexpected expenses like having your car towed, hospital visits, a broken laptop, etc.
I’ve come to learn that bigger isn’t always better, and it isn’t all about how nice your things are or how much of it you have. With this in mind, I have found it easier to be content with what I own, and only spending on the necessities.
Keep in mind that if the tips and tricks I listed are practiced, the money will be saved and available for you to treat yourself once in a while!
With these budgeting ideas, we can all learn to save our money and invest it in more important things. Budgeting is an essential concept for everyone to learn, not just struggling college students.
Everyone can learn to benefit from saving money and having a budget plan that puts money towards the big expenses of life. All of this is simpler said than done, but with a strong willingness and commitment, we can learn to be pro budgeters.