Are you left wondering every month where that money goes that you work so hard for? Or where that allowance that your parents give you every month disappears to? Consider the following tips to help you not only track your expenses, but also create a spending plan and even save some dough for that spring break trip or down payment on a house after graduation.
Identify Your Expenses
In order to get control over your finances, you must identify where your money goes. You can use K-State's Student Financial Assistance estimate of costs to gauge the current cost of attendance at K-State. If you want to plan ahead for your future education expenses, estimate an increase of between 4-7% annually.
There are also several online resources available to help track your spending:
- The website www.mint.com is a great tool to help track expenses, and it's FREE. It allows you to bring all of your financial accounts together, groups your transactions by category, and can be accessed on your computer and even on your phone!
- Another budgeting app that works well is YNAB You Need A Budget, however be aware after the free trial there is an annual $50 fee.
- Another useful website to help with not only budgeting but all aspects of finance is SALT. They help with college finances, credit cards and reports, and even retirement savings for those looking to the future.
- Check out this interactive calculator created especially for students in college. It considers expenses such as books, tuition, and income sources like financial aid and loans.
Create Your Spending Plan
Use our spending plan worksheet to create your own spending plan for the semester. Follow this three step process:
- First you will estimate what you believe your income and expenses are for a monthly period. You will also identify whether the expense is a need or a want.
- Second you will record your actual income and expenses as determined from your financial records for a monthly period again identifying them as needs or wants. By estimating first, then recording actuals second, you will get a good feel for how in tune you are with your spending habits.
- The final step is to determine any adjustments that need to be made and to create the spending plan for next month.
A peer financial counselor can also assist you with these steps of creating your new spending plan budget.
Change Your Money Behaviors
Identifying your expenses and creating your spending plan will be the easy part. The hard part will be changing your money behaviors. So along with the spending plan you should carefully reflect on your attitudes about money. Are you ready to make a change about how you make money decisions? Go to Financial Literacy Month's First Step to Financial Freedom to begin a process that may help you create this overall financial change in yourself.