The running joke about “poor college students” is not that far off from reality. Even if it is a small campus job or an internship during the semester most of us are not making a solid income to spend as freely as we would like and avoid the occasional mac & cheese dinner. The implications of budgeting will carry into the “real world”as we have practically unlimited wants but limited resources.
Below is a cheat sheet on how you can start thinking about budgeting and your personal finances!
1.Get an app!
Whether you bank at a place that already has an app, there are budgeting options within many bank apps today. This is perfect because not only can it tell you the areas you are spending the most money but you can set up alerts to prevent not only identity theft but spending too much for a given month. Third Party Apps such as Mint are also helpful for some people as they can customize their categories and create plans for what they would like to save for.
2.Track your spending for a week
If you have an app or do not enjoy looking at all your receipts at the end of the month looking for where all your money has gone, tracking your spending for a week can be an eye opening experience. Whether on paper or in the notes area of your phone keeping track of unnecessary expenses for a short period of time can help bring a new level of awareness to your spending habits.
3. Grab a book
There are thousands of books on saving, spending, and budgeting as a young adult. Many are timeless best sellers and are perfect light reading that can help you in the long run. Many real questions such as the implications of deciding to lease or buy a new vehicle or setting up an investment plan to one day pay off your student loans all have very real implications. Feel free to comment or ask mentors any good reads that they found helpful!
Experimenting with your personal finances and being able to have difficult conversations about money in college are not only important now but also it is a crucial part after graduation. There are also extensive online plans, money coaches, and personal advisors but these extra resources usually come with some sort of cost. The above suggestions are free with the help of your local bank, library, and mentors so start one today!
Aury Cifuentes is a very bubbly senior at The College of New Jersey. As an Economics major with a concentration in Social Justice she is happily working on a capstone project, internship, and thesis this year. When she isn’t studying, Aury is actively participating in the community through the Bonner Service program and working closely with her E-Board as president of Women in Business this year.