1. TRACK YOUR SPENDING
The best method for tracking spending is; over the course of the next several weeks track every penny you spend in a notebook, excel spreadsheet, or notepad in your phone or whatever works best for you. Just be sure to account for every penny you spend. You will not only see where your money is going but make decisions about whether all your purchases were wise or necessary.
2. CREATE A SPENDING PLAN
Figure in major bills first. Set aside money for tuition, fees, books, room and board along with other large expenses. Once these are subtracted from your bank balance you will have a more accurate starting point from which to create your Spending Plan. Once you have identified your spending habits through your tracking method and knock out your major bills you can get started on creating a spending plan.
3. IDENTIFY INCOME
List financial assistance paid directly to you each month, family help, anticipated job income, work study income, child support payments, food stamps, and any other source of money you receive.
4. LIST YOUR EXPENSES
Complete your spending worksheet using your tracking method to determine what your actual expenses are. As you write down our expenses you will probably start to see areas from your tracking method of unnecessary spending and opportunities to cut back.
5. COMPARE: INCOME vs. EXPENSES
Once you have identified your income and expenses you need to compare the totals to see how your doing. If you income is higher than your expenses great! Not only are your preventing financial stress but you can set money aside for your goals-a new lap top, spring break trip, emergency savings and more. If your expenses are higher than your income you have two options; cut expenses or increase income. Increasing income can be difficult in collage with limited time it may be easier to start identifying your needs vs. wants.
Emma B. Lommasson Center
The University of Montana
Missoula, MT 59812