Balancing the Budget

It's easy to get caught up in a spending spree when you're in college. Of course you need at least two or three Ball State shirts. The weather is getting colder, so you'll need a hooded sweatshirt. You get tired of eating at the dining locations, so going out to eat is a nice treat. Discount stores are so easy to stop by and pass time as well as pick up some fun items.

If you're finding that you are spending money too fast, it may be time to put yourself on a budget. Here are a few tips on budgeting:

  • Know how much money you have and how much money you will need to spend. If you're spending more than you have or more than you earn, then that's a problem! You are a college student--you shouldn't have a lot of money, but it's also not the time to go into debt.
  • Determine what you need versus what you want. Needs include books, school supplies, gasoline, prescriptions, etc. Wants are things like Taco Bell cravings at midnight, the latest CD, the newest colors of Old Navy flip-flops, and going to the movies when you should be studying or sleeping. It's good to reward yourself occasionally--perhaps to celebrate a good grade on a test or take a break after many hours of studying--but now it's time to be a little frugal.
  • Watch what you spend by asking yourself, "Do I need it, or do I want it?" before purchasing. If the answer is need, wait 24 hours to buy it. Waiting a few hours can often help you avoid impulse buying.
  • Consider getting a campus job. Numerous jobs are available with various departments at the university where students can make some extra spending money, learn new skills, and gain experience for their resumes. And working on campus doesn't require a car, more gasoline, or parking hassles.

Begin good spending habits now, and you'll be happy at the end of the year that you have some money left for spring semester.

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