Money can actually be such a pain sometimes. Especially as a student–you have all this money saved, and you’re working so hard to pay for school, but then it seems so easy to just blow through it sometimes whether it’s on fast food or when you were shopping with friends. Beyond that, Christmas is coming up, and it’s SO hard not to just go and buy great gifts for everyone! It’s so easy to just blow a couple hundred dollars after buying a gift for everyone in your family and circle of friends.
I think the main issue most students have with money is just figuring out how exactly to make a budget. This is something that took a few weeks for me to sort of iron out, but I think I’ve got a pretty good system so far. So here’s my tips and tricks for making a budget–and sticking with it!
1. Figure out how much money you actually have
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not. Figure out a percentage that you think is reasonable for you to have as “spending money.” I generally give 5-10% of whatever I make to myself, depending on whether I’m working at the time or not. If percentage just doesn’t work for you, think realistically about how much money a month you think you should be spending on yourself. This includes fast food, clothes, toiletries, etc. Anything that doesn’t have to do with rent, tuition, etc.
You’ve also got to figure out how much living expenses and school is going to cost you. Don’t just go on tuition, either–factor in text books, electric bills, heating, etc. When you figure that out, calculate how much more money you will need for the next couple of years of your life.
Now here’s why we already took out that spending money: it’s a lot easier to budget when you know how much money you actually have. If you’re not lying to yourself, you’ll understand that you’re going to be spending some money during your time at school, whether it’s on shoes, food, or movies with friends. Often when we budget, we say “Yeah! I’ve totally got enough for school!” And then we go and spend it all on crap and wonder where all our money went. When we put aside a certain amount that is only for personal spending, it’s a lot easier to stick to that number and not go overboard.
2. Organize your accounts so you don’t overspend
There are actually so many ways to do this, too! It’s so exciting! 🙂
Personally, I put the money that is “saving” or “tithing” money in one bank account, and then spending money in the other, so that I can actually only spend so much before I hit zero. Then I balance my credit card from the spending account, so that I know exactly how much money I have left.
Then I further specialize, and put everything for coffee/food on my student card, because all the restaurants on campus where I tend to pick up Timmy’s or the like accept student cards. Then I know I can’t go over the limit, because I’ll just hit zero and it’s declined! Plus, nothing is more embarrassing than having a card declined, so the fear of that helps you stay away from spending.
3. Cut Down on Costs
Honestly, budgeting is always going to be hard if you’re not willing to cut back. No, you don’t need to buy coffee every morning. No, you don’t need a new sweater every month. Rethink what you’re actually spending your money on, and realize how fast it can add up.
Right now, go look at your credit card statement from last month and tally up what was spent on clothes, food, and entertainment. It’s probably a lot more than you would have guessed. Now picture if you could cut that in half, or even a quarter of what it was. You’d save so much money! So find those places where you can spend less and save more.
There are so many ways to do this! Buy second-hand when you need clothes, or start packing your own lunch for school. Get a reusable coffee mug and then make yourself coffee or tea for the bus in the morning! Little things that all save you money will add up in the end.
4. Spend time–not money–when hanging out with friends
Instead of spending $15 to see a movie, or all going out for dinner at a nice restaurant, why not all take a bike ride by the river, or bring a picnic to the park? Or why not hang out and have a games day with everyone? You don’t have to spend a lot of money to gain quality time with friends. Just learn how to hang out without breaking the bank! And if you have friends who always drag you into spending money, why not just invite them over to your place instead? Then it’s on your turf, your rules.
This might seem counterintuitive–to save money, give it away! But it actually works. And here’s why:
When you stop seeing your money as your own, but instead as a gift from God, you begin to change the way you use it. You begin to be more careful, and way more grateful for the money that you do have. It’s just a complete switch of the mind–your money is not your own, and that revolutionizes your spending.
Above that, God promises that he will bless those who use their possessions to honour him! Look at this verse from Proverbs:
He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.
If you use your money and your possessions to bring God’s kingdom to earth, he will always provide for you. It’s a promise, and God doesn’t back out of his promises.
Money can be a pain sometimes, and it can be really easy to slack off and just forget about managing it completely. But getting a handle on your finances is super important, and will really help get you on the right foot for the rest of your year at school.
What are some tips and tricks you’ve learned for keeping your spending in check?