Money Matters: Learning to budget

Sarah Hillenbrand

Many college students have trouble knowing how much they can afford to spend because they have never taken into account how much money they have or make and what their expenses are. Grand Valley State University students can keep track of their spending and calculate what they can afford to help them live within their means.

For the many students who don’t currently have a budget, it’s impossible to know how much you can afford to spend each month and difficult to mentally keep track of where your money is going. Keeping a budget can solve this problem.

Mentally walking through a typical day or week and writing down where you spend money can help students figure out where they might need to cut back. While on pay day it may seem like you have plenty of money to spend, just spending a little here or there can add up quickly.

To make budgeting even easier, students can make a spreadsheet that is easily updated. Writing down roughly how much you make each month or pay day and then splitting that up between necessary expenses is an easy way to see how much you have to spend in each area of your life. It’s fine to spend money to treat yourself every once in a while, but if half of your paycheck is going toward entertainment, it creates a potential problem.

For example, buying a coffee each day may seem like no big deal since it may only be a few dollars here or there. But, it can add up quickly and cut a large chuck out of your budget. For example, you buy a regular small coffee for two dollars three times a week – that adds up to six dollars in one week, 24 dollars in a month, and 288 dollars a year.

During college, many students have parents or guardians that support them, if not wit tuition and room and board then covering many bills – health insurance, car insurance, phone bill, and many more. While students have lower income, and in many cases less bills to pay, now, it is good practice to build a budget now and then add income and other bills later.

For students to prepare to life after college, they should create a budget so that they know how to for the future, learn how to stay within a budget, and be able to add and subtract from it for being on their own in the future.