Why I Started Budgeting
As a kid, my parents taught me the importance of saving to create wealth in the future. While I’ve always been pretty good at saving, I’ve never had a savings goal or something that requires me to watch my spending closely, until now.
Recently, I decided to go back to college for a second time to pursue a degree in Health Science. I am going to a community college so the tuition is relatively low. Cheap enough that I don’t plan on taking any loans out to pay for it.
I applied and requested my transcript from my previous college only to find out my debt wouldn’t allow me to move forward with the application process or even apply for financial aid. This was very discouraging, let me tell ya.
I was hoping to start school as soon as possible, but finding out that I had to save not only to pay off my defaulted loan but also for tuition to go back to school seemed impossible.
Luckily, I was able to reapply at my community college as a new student instead of a transfer student and simply let go of any credits I earned while in school originally (I wasn’t there for very long so there weren’t too many). This way, I don’t have to pay the loan off before starting school again.
The only downfall to this compromise is that I can’t apply for financial aid which I was counting on helping me with some of my costs. At first saving all my tuition in such a short time seemed like it would be really hard, but I’m going to share with you today how I’m saving 2K for my first term of college in just 3 short months without sacrificing the things that make me happy in my life.
#1 Create A Budget
I’ve never used a budget until now and I can’t believe my planning-obsessed self never tried it before. It’s changing my life and I’ve barely been using it a month!
I use a budgeting program called Mint. It’s totally free and the software seems to work great for me, I’ve had no issues.
The first thing I did after syncing my bank account with it was went through all my transactions and labelled them. I have special labels for all my bills and various things I spend money on like dog and cat food, toiletries, skincare, ect…
When you label all your spending it allows the app to categorize everything and show you exactly what you’re spending your money on. I was horrified to learn I had spent almost 2K (the full amount of my savings goal) on groceries in just one month! Seeing all my spending visually laid out was a huge wake up call!
Just seeing all the random crap I’d been spending my money on was enough motivation to keep me budgeting!
After labeling all my transactions I started to create a budget. I made a category for every bill I pay, what I expected to spend on food, gas, random spending. What my goals were (save 2k in 3 months). As well as what I expected my income to be!
I am a little more than half way through my first full month of budgeting (I started part way through last month). It’s exciting to see how well I’m doing staying within my budget just because I’m aware of it and paying attention to where my money goes!
This is a huge resource and by far my biggest tip. Even if you’re not trying to save for anything in particular, it is so valuable to pay attention to your finances so you can always make smart decisions with your money!
Look forward to updates about my trial and errors budgeting in the future!
#2 Make More Tradeoffs Than Sacrifices
Right away when I started budgeting I started thinking about all the unnecessary stuff I spend my money on. Getting my nails done every two weeks, eyelash extensions, 4 pints of berries at $5 a piece every week, going out to eat, buying tea and baked goods at coffee shops.. the list goes on.
It’s important not to cut out all the the things that make you happy when budgeting because then your overall satisfaction of your life might go down and that won’t help you reach your goal at all! Instead of cutting everything you don’t necessarily need, choose the things that are most important to you and look for cheaper alternatives for the rest.
For example, I’ve stopped getting my nails done, but still plan on doing my eyelashes.
I stopped buying toaster waffles (which I eat for most breakfasts) and instead buy pancake mix which tastes just a good and is way more bang for your buck!
I’ve cut way back on going out to eat and instead buy myself more special food to make at home.
You don’t have to be miserable to live on a budget!
#3 Sell Your Stuff & Buy Your Stuff Used
As soon as I started my savings plan for school I also started thinking of ways to make extra money. I don’t have time for a second job because school will be my second job. So, instead, I started selling my clothing on Poshmark! All you have to do is post pictures of the clothing and send things out as quick as you can if purchased, the app does the rest.
For non-clothing items try selling things you don’t use and items you have too many of on Ebay and Craig’s List. Both great ways to bring in extra money!
Also buying your clothes and various items off those websites is a great way to save money if you’re in need of something but don’t want to pay full price (half my clothing comes from Poshmark, it’s very reliable.)!
#4 Remember That It’s Temporary
If we live frugally now, the hope is that we won’t have to later. I think it’s so important when working towards a goal to remember that once you’ve reached that goal, you’re free! Not to say you should let go of budgeting, but maybe you won’t have to make so many sacrifices any more once the goal has been reached.
It’s temporary, that’s why we set goals! To have something to work towards that you know you will one day reach and then it will be over. 🙂