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Remembering how much your last impulse buy set you back is a challenge, but the real difficulty is remembering what exactly your latest had-to-have-it buy was. Perhaps, it was a pack of Rolling Rock, this week’s cigarettes, or that top you are wearing that is to die for.
Personally, clothes are the vice that my inner consumer just can’t resist. Luckily, clothing is an investment that saves money on laundry. More clothes means less laundry, right? Maybe that’s just the consumer in me trying to justify my latest splurge.
After an impulse buy, it may take minutes or it may take days — either way you can’t escape the buyers remorse and the financial anxiety that harbors in your mind.
Welcome to Spendaholics Anonymous. As a reformed spendaholic myself, I struggle with the anxiety, decisions, and the strict budget that all college students have. There is a way to beat the disease of over-spending. To aid your financial success, you will find budgeting a way to guide you through the world of money.
The first step to creating a budget is determining your income. Income is any money that comes into your possession every month. Income could be a paycheck from work, the check from mom and dad, money you have pulled from your saving account, and even that random letter that your great aunt sends you with a twenty inside every once in awhile. After listing off your typical income sources, total them up.
In the next step, you need to be very honest with yourself about your expenditures. If you buy a pack of cigarettes or a handle of Captain’s every week, it’s better to factor that in and keep to your budget.
Let’s start with the simple stuff, your steady expenditures. This includes rent, utilities, Internet, cable, credit card bills, transportation base-budget, and food base-budget. A base-budget is an amount of money set aside for a particular and necessary expense. However, something like a food base-budget is intended to use for groceries not going out to dinner with your friends. Again, after listing that out, total that up and then move on to your extra expenditures.
The extra expenditures category includes everything else from beer to clothing to entertainment and more. This category is the least vital therefore what you purchase after everything else. In order to get a real and accurate representation over the next month, I encourage you to live as you usually do; however, save every receipt and track your spending every day as specifically as possible.
The next step is to total up all your expenditures and to subtract that number from your total income. There may have been a miscalculation if you have a large sum left over and you consistently find yourself down to your last dollar. You will need to recalculate or re-estimate. Whatever is left, even if it’s twenty cents, is your savings. If your balance is negative, re-evaluate your extra expenditures and get yourself out of there.
When it comes to savings, under no circumstance do you tap into this fund—even for unexpected expenses or an emergency. It is better to shift some of your funds around in your budget or to call home.
So how do you use this budget? The true secret to making a budget work is diligence. So, respect each allotted amount of money for the various expenditures that you have. Anything left over each month does not roll over for spending. Instead, put that money toward savings.
With a solid budget, dedication and a lot of self-control, you can redeem yourself from a life of financial mismanagement. I am here to help you with the monetary struggles I once faced. If I could do it, so can you.
Contact CU Independent writer Mandi Meek at Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org.