The Best Ways for Students to Track Where Your Money Goes
Keeping track of your money is an essentially important thing to do in college. Taking care of your finances will keep your standard of living in tact, allowing you to become more aware of where your finances might need to improve.
Ways for Students to Keep Track of Their Money
If you're a college student living on a budget - or an adult having a tough time with money management - you probably notice that your funds dry up at the end of every month. Where does that cash go? Read on for tips to track how and where you spend most of your money - it's easier than you might ever guess.
When you're a student, it seems there's always something you have to buy. Sometimes it's school supplies, sometimes it's food and sometimes it's clothes for the cold winter ahead. You may feel like you're not spending that much, but sometimes that credit card bill will surprise you. You may ask yourself where you're losing it all, but it's actually not that difficult to figure out where you spend your money. Sometimes tracking your cash might even help you balance your budget and spend less. By knowing how, when and where you spend money, you can get better control of your habits.
Online Spending Reports
If you use a credit or debit card for all of your purchases, someone is probably already keeping track of where your money goes, and that's your bank. Most major banks have online accounts where you can monitor how much money you have, as well as when you transfer, add or withdraw funds. These accounts also have a nifty little feature that allows you to see every individual payment you have made. You can look at a full month's worth of what you spent and where you spent it, all on your computer screen. From there, it's pretty easy to add up where you spent the most and on what kind of things you're wasting money.
If your bank does not have an online option or you haven't set up an online account, many banks can still let you see a spending report. You can request it in person at a branch or have it mailed to you. Online or offline, you will still be able to see every place you spent money and get a better grip on where exactly your cash goes every month.
If you do not tend to use debit or credit cards, using a spending report can be difficult. You can see that you withdraw money and probably can tell at which times of the month you take out the most. You can't tell anything specific beyond that, though. So instead of letting someone else collect the information for you, you will have to do it yourself. One of the best ways is to keep your receipts from everywhere you spend. It can add up to a lot of paper at the end of the month, but it will still give you a clear record of where you spend money. It will even show you the most expensive items that you buy, a feature that online spending reports do not have.
Maybe you don't think you can keep all those receipts in order. That's okay, because you can make your own receipts. Whenever you go out, bring a notebook and write down the amount you spent and where you spent it. If you're diligent, by the end of the month you'll be able to look at your notebook and add things up the same way you would with store-issued receipts.
One of the best ways to figure out where your money goes is to plan where it will go in advance. At the very beginning of the month, estimate how much you spend on things like clothes, food, toiletries and added luxuries. Make whatever number you estimate a hard budget for each area and don't allow yourself to spend more than that. Then you'll know right away the maximum you will spend that month in any given place.
By the end of your first month of tracking, you're bound to notice which of those budgets were easy to stay under and which were more difficult. The difficult ones are probably areas in which you usually spend more than your estimate, and the ones where you ended up with money left over are probably usually lower. You'll be able to adjust your budget for the next month to more realistically reflect how you spend. If you prefer, you can even pull back your budget to save money on things you usually spend too much on.
Ready to curb your spending? Use these 30 easy ways to save money next month!