Hooray for winter break! However, it won’t be long before you are heading back to college. Now is the perfect time to review your finances. Get your semester budget ready to stay on track this Spring using these tips from the Talking Cents blog.
How to Prepare Your Semester Budget
Have you ever used a budget? If you’re like me, I started by keeping track of income and expenses in my head. It was definitely not efficient, but it worked okay. I understood I couldn’t spend more than I would make for the week. I knew I was suppose to be saving, but I could never get ahead. That’s because I had no real plan or savings goals! Plus, I didn’t really know how much I was spending. Hopefully, you can avoid my mistake and follow a real semester budget.
A budget consists of tracking money coming in verse money going out- what you are earning and what you are spending. To create your budget, think through all the expenses you will face in the next semester. Some expenses will be the same as last semester and some might be new. It really depends on your class needs and activities.
Here are some examples of expenses you might encounter:
- Art Supplies
- Cell Phone Bill
- Club Fees
- Spring Break
Now, it’s time to factor income into your semester budget. Many students need to be earning money to pay for things outside of what student loans cover. You may even want to take out less in loans and pay out of pocket. However, don’t get in over your head. Do the math very carefully.
Try adding up the projected costs of your expenses. Compare this to what you typically make at your work study or part-time job. Are you spending too much? If so, consider working more or cutting back on entertainment. You may also save some money by finding used textbooks or sharing with a roommate.
Final Tips for Your Semester Budget
Once you get into your job and you encounter your actual expenses, it’ll be easier to manage your budget. You will have real-time data to use. Budgeting apps or even an excel spreadsheet can be very useful for tracking the budget.
Finally, now that you know the budgeting basics and have an idea of upcoming expenses, you can prepare your finances now. Do you need to work a little while you’re home? Will you have enough by just cutting back a bit? By answering these questions ahead of time, you will be in much better shape.
Check out more tips on our College Life & Budgeting Pinterest board!