Once you’ve gone through all the steps to create a budget and determined where your money will go, you’re done, right? Not exactly. Even the best budget plan can get derailed when you go back to daily life and stop actively thinking about your finances.
College students are busy and oftentimes pulled in several different directions. No one can blame them for struggling to stay aware of their budget or for occasionally overspending. If this sounds like you, there are a few hacks you could try to avoid slipping up or making major budget mistakes.
Set Up Automatic Transfers
If you know that you have a large expense coming up or you have a savings goal you’re working toward, consider setting up automatic transfers. This way, you won’t have to actively choose to set money aside every week or month. When you automatically transfer money where it needs to go as soon as you get paid, the money is never there to tempt you or make you think you have more than you do. Once your transfers happen, the remaining money is yours to use however you’d like. Setting them up is likely easier than you think.
Leave Your Cards at Home
If you have a habit of stopping at coffee shops, convenience stores, or fast-food restaurants on your way to and from class or work, it might be helpful to stop bringing your entire wallet with you to those places. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you’re covered for emergencies (carry your ID and maybe some gas money), but you probably don’t need all of your credit and debit cards with you everywhere you go. If your vending machine habit is hard to break, maybe it’s easier if you simply don’t have the money with you to spend.
Name your bank accounts
It is much easier to convince yourself that it’s okay to withdraw money from “Savings Account” than it is to withdraw it from “Student Loan Repayment” or “Spring Break Fund.” If your bank allows you to nickname your accounts, try labeling them with your own goals. You might even decide to open a separate account to work towards a certain goal to make it easier to track your progress.
Use Cash Instead of Cards
It can be so easy to hand over your debit or credit card without even thinking about what you’re doing or how much you’re spending. If you find yourself doing this, try using cash for spending money instead. Start the week with a certain amount of cash and try to make it through the week without taking out more or using your cards. This can make you more aware of how much you’re spending and when you’ve gone over the amount that you had planned.
Use a Budgeting App
If cash isn’t your thing or you pay high ATM fees, consider using budgeting apps like Mint.com that will automatically track your spending for you. You can use these apps to categorize your transactions and see what kind of trends emerge in your spending habits. You can even set up alerts for when you spend more than your budgeted amount in a certain category. Just bringing your awareness back to your spending can help you stop making mindless choices and spending more than you can afford.
Every person is different, and it can take a while to figure out what system works best for you. Setting up a budget is a great idea, but make sure not to stop there. Tricks like these can help you stick to your budget by minimizing the number of times you have to make a money decision, which means giving yourself fewer chances to sabotage your plan.
If you want help setting up a budget based on your financial needs and goals, set up an appointment at Powercat Financial. The Peer Counselors can help you work through the process and find a plan that works for you. To schedule an appointment, go to https://www.k-state.edu/powercatfinancial/.