Welcome back to the blog, everyone! Today, we wanted to regroup on the topic of budgeting ahead of entering the new year. As many of you have likely felt, budgeting is a crucial component of a post-graduation lifestyle as well as a means of setting yourself up for future success. Whether budgeting allows you to make a big purchase, stay on top of paychecks and rent, or otherwise incorporate savings into your goals, budgeting is a tool to help you achieve it!
- Prioritize: Before you can figure out and customize your budgeting strategy, you must evaluate what activities, hobbies, or materialistic components of your lifestyle are most important to you. This may look like a monthly gym membership expense, eating at restaurants, or a certain amount of money you are willing to spend on new clothing/ accessories. Whatever it is, make a list of your ‘non-negotiables’.
- Plan: To begin planning out a budget, write down your goal for setting aside a certain amount of money each month. With a written goal, you will have a concrete number to designate success and work up to. Additionally, write down your income for each month. Include your job salary and any other work obligations (for college students this may include babysitting, house-sitting, pet-sitting, or any other part-time roles that bring in extra money).
- Create: With a plan in mind and a list of priorities set, you are ready to begin budgeting! When listing out monthly expenses, differentiate those expenses which are fixed (ie: rent, student loans, car payments) from expenses that differ on a monthly basis.
- Extra Tip: Be Realistic! If you are dining out 2-3 times a week, leave a larger budget for that category. However, you must begin to consider sacrificing other expenses in order to be able to save money at the end of the month; think about cutting back on other ‘wants’, like money you may spend on home decorating, clothing, or other “elective” expenses.
- Extra Tip: Use Past Expenses! To get an idea of where your money is spent each month, utilize a past credit card bill, or create a document of all your expenses for any given month. That way, when the next month begins, you will have an accurate picture of how you spend your money and your estimates will be based on facts instead of assumptions.
- Extra Tip: Categorize! Make a list of all expenses. Consider each category you spend money on. When budgeting, be aware of grocery costs, clothing costs, “fun” costs, drink prices, laundry costs, gym/exercise costs, etc. Never overlook expenses just because they are necessary, include everything in your budget plan.
- Consider: Be aware of times during the year when expenses naturally increase. These expenses may include birthday presents, holidays, vacations, tax months, wedding presents, etc. Set aside enough money to utilize during the year instead of having to dig into your income each time you encounter one of these payments.
Keep an eye out next week for tips on how to execute budgeting through certain platforms and programs!
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