Going to college comes with all kinds of new experiences and learning curves, and for many of us it is the first time we become somewhat financially independent. Your parents aren’t there to give you cash for your dinner out or stock the fridge with snacks and food for the week. So, with this newfound independence comes a lot of responsibility, and it can be hard to manage your spending. This is where budgeting comes into play.
Whether endless funds are still supplied by your parents or you pay for everything on your own dime, budgeting is an important skill to have now and for the viability of your future. Here are a few dos and don’ts for budgeting and spending:
1. Set an allowance for yourself each week
Based on how much you make or how much money your parents give you each month, make a spreadsheet of all the things you need, and from the money you have left. Calculate what extra things you can buy and how much you should save.
2. Recognize your spending weaknesses and plan for them
If you know you will buy coffee or ice cream at least once a week, acknowledge your typical impulse purchases. Plan for those special things you know you’ll buy and figure out where else you could make a sacrifice and save for that latte.
3. Make non-negotiable items a priority
You know you have to eat. You know you have to pay your rent. Make these things a priority in your budget to ensure you don’t waste your money on other things and then not be able to pay for these necessities.
4. Make a grocery list
We all have those things that catch our eye walking down the aisles of HEB — whether its several bags of chips or a cake mix that will sit in your pantry for the rest of the year. Making a list prior to going to the store will help you to only go down the aisles where you need things instead of just walking aimlessly through the whole store where you’re more susceptible to tasty temptations.
5. Save, save, save
We’re only in college for a few years, and after graduation, most of us will be paying everything on our own. So, even if you get a hefty allowance now from your parents, learn how to put some of that aside and save for the future. Additionally, there will always be expenses that you don’t plan for: a speeding ticket, car maintenance or having to fix a home appliance. Saving your money will give you a cushion for when these unexpected things come up and will save you a lot of stress and anxiety when they do.
1. Buy Common Grounds everyday.
It’s totally OK to go once or twice a week, but try to limit your coffee spending to a certain amount each week. Save your money and invest in a good coffee maker for those days you don’t buy it out.
2. Go to HEB on an empty stomach
Before, we talked about the importance of making a list before going to the store. In addition to this, don’t go to the store hungry. You will always buy more food if you’re hungry, because everything looks good.
3. Eat out when you have good food in the fridge
Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule if you go out with friends a couple of times a week. However, it is a waste of money to stock your fridge with food for the week and then just let it go bad because you don’t cook it. Also, be realistic about how much free time you have for cooking. Don’t buy perishable food for an elaborate meal at the store and then let everything go bad because you don’t have time to cook it. Shop smart and meal prep for the week ahead.