Making money is no easy task. It takes a lot of time and effort to get money, and once you have it, even greater effort is required to keep it. How many times have you said to yourself, “Where did it all go?” Being a student can get expensive fast. All too often, it is difficult to tell where exactly you spent all your money, and where you should focus your attention when cutting down spending in the future. These are a few helpful ways to track and cut down on your spending as a student.
You can go the old-fashioned route and track your spending with a pen and some paper in a journal. This approach is really simple and easy to implement as long as you remember to keep up with it. All you need is a sheet of paper or some kind of notebook and a pen, now you’re off to a great start. Ordered a pizza? Log it. Bought a new book? Log it. Renewed your Netflix subscription? Log that too. At the end of the week or the month, you can go through and summarize all your entries. If you find out you’re spending too much money on everything, you’re not alone.
If writing down every entry by hand isn’t your thing, there are a slew of great personal finance apps out there to help you get your finances in check. Applications like Mint, Fudget, Goodbudget and Wallaby all have slightly different features, but they all accomplish the goal of helping you visualize your expenses on a weekly, monthly or annual basis. The advantage of the apps is the ability to see charts, graphs and visuals to give you a new perspective on your spending. They will even link to your bank and credit card accounts to file the data into your overall reports, which is a huge advantage to writing out a manual journal. Most of these apps are either free or cost only a few dollars, but they can all be extremely helpful tools to help you see where you are and chart your path to financial success. Just make sure you’re not overspending on something that’s meant to save you money.
Once you’ve figured out what part of your budget is way too big, the next step is finding ways to cut back and make a new budget. Many of the aforementioned apps actually have a budget function built in. Mint is especially helpful in that regard. A lot of things are set in stone price-wise, like rent or tuition, but it’s still helpful to cut back where you can. Buying coffee can be an especially costly activity. Four or five dollars a few times a week or every day adds up fast. An inexpensive coffee machine and a trip to the grocery store can help limit your spending in that area. Eating in the dining halls, GSU, or cooking for yourself can also save lots of money in the long run. The key to saving wisely is knowing where you’re spending, and taking steps to limit certain kinds of spending you deem unnecessary.