Now that the holidays are over, hopefully your spending has slowed down or stopped for at least a little while. Now is the time more than ever to remind yourself to be responsible with your money and spending habits. It is so easy, especially as a college student, to habitually buy that morning cup of coffee, that weekly pizza dinner, or those drinks down at the bar with friends. It is easy not to think about how much you are spending when you are swiping a piece of plastic.
Here are a few ideas to help you become aware of your spending:
1. Use Cash – Not Plastic
We live in a world of plastic with debit and credit cards. Debit cards can be dangerous since they are linked directly to your checking account. You may not care about how much you are spending because as long as your spending is below the amount in your account you are good, right? Wrong. Just because you have money in your account doesn’t mean you should spend it. I find that when I use cash instead of plastic, I am more aware of my money. When you physically hand over cash, you can see that it is gone and that it is no longer with you. You can also see that the more you hand over, the more you are spending. And when it’s gone, it’s gone, unlike the plastic which is always there to entice you.
2. Limit Credit Cards
Credit cards can be just as dangerous because you think you have a limit that you can easily pay off later. Credit cards are not the same as debit cards. Credit cards contain no value. I do not use my credit card unless I know I already have that exact amount in my checking account that I can pay off right away. I typically only use my credit card for smaller purchases and use it only once in a while. It is not my first method of payment, and it shouldn’t be yours either.
3. Monthly Budget Sheet
It is a huge benefit to write out your monthly expenses and your monthly income. Write out specific details such as how much you spend per month on groceries, bills, dining, entertainment, saving (yes, this should be included), gas, etc and subtract that total from your monthly income. This helps you become aware of where your money is going each month. You can then see if you spent under or over your monthly limit for each category and determine how well you are managing your income. Tip – use an Excel spreadsheet and put in the calculating formulas so it will automatically do the math for you on what your total expenses and remaining income is.
Money is hard to get these days and can be gone in the blink of an eye! It’s okay to have fun every one in a while, but just be sure you are not getting crazy with those credit cards and are aware of your spending!
What are some ways you track your spending?