Being a 20-something college student has led to me becoming very interested in learning how to save money and become more financial savvy. I know other people like to create a budget online using an excel sheet, but I personally love creating my budget from scratch using a piece of paper.
Physically writing down what I need and don’t need and how much I should spend on certain items works great for me and then I can look at my online checking account to confirm how much I’ve spent.
Here are my tips to create an easy budget:
1. Create a list of must-haves.
These can be items such as hygienic items, groceries, and so on. Set out a certain amount each week you would like to spend on groceries. After each week, try to deduct a certain amount of dollars from each week. Obviously you won’t be able to deduct every single week because that would mean you would be spending no money whatsoever, which is impossible.
2. Create a list of optional items that you aren’t sure if you should be spending money on.
For me, these optional items would be makeup and clothes. I don’t necesarily need these items, which is why I make sure to spend very little on these things. Luckily, makeup brands ALWAYS have sales in stores or coupons in magazines/online sites. Finding coupons for makeup is so incredibly easy. All I do is Google, “Makeup coupons” and a ton of sites come up with printables.
3. Write down items that you buy a lot of.
After doing this, you should figure out how to save money on each item. For example, if you are buying clothes regularly and can’t give up this habit, find ways to get money back on your purchases or getting certain discounts. You can sign up for the store’s credit card or subscribe to their email. Every time my favorite clothing store has a huge discount day, I make sure to buy my items that day, but ONLY if I actually need them. Don’t mistake a discount/sale day as an excuse to go all out and spend a bunch of money on items you probably don’t need. A lot of people make this mistake and spend way too much money.
4. Save receipts and keep track of how much you are spending.
You’d be quite surprised to see how much you actually spend as opposed to what you think you spend is VERY different. Don’t just try to remember what you spend because if you’re me, you’ll lower the number down in your head and start to believe you aren’t spending a lot, when in reality you are.
After figuring out items you need and don’t need, set aside an amount that you see is doable.
I spend about $50-$70 a week on food, not including going out to restaurants. I do my shopping at small stores such as Aldi’s and that saves me a TON of money. Start buying clothes at discounted stores. If you’re into name brand clothing/items, discounted stores such as TJMAXX or Marshalls offer great deals.
How do you budget? What works for you?