A budget helps you form good financial habits and develop an awareness of your spending. Having a budget can help reduce anxiety related to finances and school, meet short- and long-term financial goals, and develop a sense of control over your money. Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T.
- First, list your net monthly income sources (work, student aid refund, family support)
- Next, calculate and list how much you need to put away for savings.
- Next, list your fixed expenses (costs that stay the same every month)
- List your variable expenses (costs that change every month)
- Lastly, subtract your savings, fixed, and variable expenses from your total net monthly income sources to determine if you need to reduce spending or can increase savings.
- If you receive a student financial aid refund at the beginning of each term, try paying off your rent for that entire term in advance.
- Use cash for purchases, try to minimize using your debit card.
- Start SAVING! Establish an amount that you want to put away in savings each month, and make a commitment to not transfer this money.
- Avoid ATM fees, they add up.
Keeping track of how you spend your money is one of the best ways to get a handle on your cash flow and ensure that you are meeting your money goals. There are a wide variety of mobile apps available today that can allow you to conveniently and easily track your spending habits and keep you from making poor decisions.
While many apps available are free, some charge for premium tools so which one you select will be a personal decision. Most of the apps will track your spending by connecting to an existing bank account or credit account. If you’d rather not allow the app to connect to your personal information you may find ones that let you input the information manually but be prepared to be diligent in your tracking.
Do your research, shop around and find the mobile spending app that will work best for your personality and financial goals. Whether you are looking for warning notifications if you are spending too much, or want to ensure you have enough money to spend in a certain category beforehand, there’s an app for that.
Free Budgeting Tools
Mint (app available)
See everything in one place with Mint. They bring together everything from balances and bills to your credit score and more. It’s your financial life, in one place that’s easy to understand.
BudgetSimple uses a proven method of budgeting to help you track your spending. They will analyze your finances, help you create a budget planner, and suggest where you can cut expenses or grow savings. It’s a free, easy to use online budget for your household. It will help you find the best ways to get out of debt and start saving money for the future.
Budget your finances to know where your money is going. BudgetTracker is a complete online money management tool designed to keep track of all your transactions and bank accounts from your computer, mobile phone, or iPad. Receive reminders to your phone or email when your bills are due. Get started for Free!
BudgetPulse is a free online personal budgeting tool that offers the perfect combination of simplicity and functionality. It was designed so that anyone can quickly and easily take control of their personal finances. There are no downloads. No complicated software. In addition, by not requiring personal credit card or bank information, BudgetPulse effectively eliminates the risk of identity theft. It does not sync account information with banks.
Be careful when you’re providing your private financial information online. Look for the “https” at the beginning of the site URL (the “S” stands for “secure”) and read the privacy notices.