Learning how to budget your money isn’t necessarily as difficult as it sounds. The hardest aspect is self restraint. I am not complaining about the amount of money that I make, I am so grateful to have a job that is exactly what I want to do right after college. However, as someone who is routinely bad with money, I’ve had to force myself over and over again to learn how to manage my income. When you have roommates the last thing you want to say to them is, “I am late with the rent.”
Know What Your Expenses Are
Essentially before you move out of your parent’s house or decide to buy those new shoes, know how much money you have, how much more is coming in and when it is coming in. You don’t want to take on a $900 apartment if that is more than half your paycheck and you need to spend money for gas or public transportation. My monthly expenses are: rent ($800), transportation ($115), food ($250), utilities ($25) and student loans ($20). After all of that is said and done I usually have $500-600 which seemingly disappear from my bank account and into the ether like it was never there, apparently. I just eat a lot, I think. In order to sustain this very glamorous lifestyle of Trader Joes $3 wine and kale chips, I have to consistently make the same amount of money. If you’re living from paycheck to paycheck or are a wage worker, it’s important to live below your means. Meaning, always spending less than what you can afford in case something happens.
LearnVest, a site dedicated to helping women get financially stable, recommends 50% of your income go to essentials like this.
Cut Out Unnecessary Expenses
Do you really need cable TV or an unlimited data plan? Cable is not only a monthly luxury, that cable box will jack up your electric bill as well. Unless you have a profession where constantly checking your email or social media is important, a smartphone isn’t necessary. I didn’t have a phone with emailing capabilities until last summer and that’s only because Verizon changed their data plans and I could pay $40 a month instead of $100. In 2013 you can watch television on your computer and if you prefer a big screen, you can buy a larger monitor which is cheaper than an actual television. Speaking of unnecessary expenses you would literally kick me in the face if you knew how much money I spent on coffee. It’s really sad. Every few weeks I desperately cut back to save money but it’s a bad habit I have to cut. There are many unnecessary expenses like this that we don’t even realize. Packing lunch to school or work can save you some major cash. If you find yourself counting your pennies at the end of the month, review your bank statement and try to find any excessive habitual spending.
Try To Save Money
You never know what wrenches life is going to throw into your fun. During a time of economic hardship the unfortunate truth is you could be unexpectedly laid off or you can get really sick or maybe your friend is in dire need of your assistance. Each money you should not be left with absolutely nothing—a flub I am often guilty of. What many financial experts recommend is saving 10% of each paycheck. Over time, even if you don’t make much, this will add up to a vacation, or life savings or an emergency expense.
LearnVest recommends 20% of your income should go to financial priorities, which are things that help you meet financial goals like paying off loans (debts) and saving money.
Spending Money On YOU Is Not a Bad Thing
LearnVest suggests 30% of your income be spent on your lifestyle. That means anything specific to you, if you love food or music or museums, this is where that part of your budget goes. For me this is a little over $500, which explains why that amount magically disappears from my bank account. (Doing this research is actually making me feel slightly more responsible than I was pretending to be at the start of this article.)
How To Ween Yourself Off Of Your Shopping Addictions
This is specific to me, unfortunately. As I mention above, within reason, it’s totally fine to buy yourself the things you want and love. Sometimes I go overboard. Typically, I am really good, I save a bunch of money and then I say to myself, “I’ve been so good, I haven’t bought myself anything nice in so long!” Then I spend all my money on stuff I don’t need or want that much, feel really guilty and end up broke. The best way for me to stop overspending, besides budgeting my money, was weening myself off. Start by giving into your addiction. Once a week say, I will purchase one item from this store. How soothing. Then after a month, once a week say, I will only purchase one thing from this store if I am head over heels in love with it. Then do the same bi-weekly. Then monthly. Eventually, you will realize you’ve bought a lot of stuff you don’t even like that much.
Budgeting money can be difficult at first but as long as you keep track and remain diligent, you’ll be saving instead of spending in no time.