You need a budget!
You know someone has told you "you need a budget" more times than you’d like to admit, but it is true! You do need a budget! If you don’t know how much money is coming in, then how do you know how much you can spend? It’s simple math. Thankfully, creating a budget is not difficult. However, it might be a little painful to see how you actually spend your hard-earned cash. A budget spotlights where your priorities lie which may indicate you are spending too much on items you don’t really need...and you didn’t even realize it!
Wants or Needs...which is more important to you?
Now we realize the difference between wants and needs. Being honest with yourself will truly help you get your spending under control. Furthermore, just as creating a budget makes a difference (you just can’t wish you had one), differentiating between a want and a need will help to control those "leaks" that drain your income and put you in a financial bind. If you are disciplined enough to sit down and really put some thought into this exercise, you will be shocked at what you discover! Your budget will take on quite a different picture after you reflect and determine what you really need to purchase. Be prepared, you will most likely revise your budget several times before you reach the most effective version. That’s ok! You are figuring this out one dollar at a time! To download the following worksheet for your use, log in to CashCourse, and navigate to Financial Tools.
Budgeting is quite a hot topic and there are loads of resources to help you become proficient at managing your money, today and for the future. A particularly stellar program developed by the Oklahoma College Assistance Program and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education offers online budgeting tools, learning modules for all types of money matters, and great podcasts to keep you in the know! Oklahoma Money Matters, OKMM, is a great resource for the students of Oklahoma!
Are you ready to make a budget? The budget below is a great place to start to identify where you are actually spending your money! If you would like to print a copy of this template to get a jump start on managing your money, click here.
There are so many apps available to track your spending habits and help you keep on track! For Microsoft Excel users, budget templates can be downloaded at https://templates.office.com/en-us/budgets. This requires a 365 subscription (this is available to all ECU students), but there are a lot of budget templates to choose from to suit your needs. "Personal budget" will meet most people's needs, but they also have a "Monthly college budget" which includes academic expenses that could be valuable for keeping track of academic costs as well. If you prefer a Google Drive product, go to https://sheets.google.com. Choose File, New, then Template. You can then decide whether you want to create an annual budget or a monthly budget. Another resource are interactive budgets, such as Mint, that may be just what you are looking for if you want to really stay on top of your finances.
Are you an ECU student?
If you are enrolled in Freshman Seminar or another course that encourages you to get your finances in order, then continue to the CashCourse tab under Flight Plan and begin your assignments chosen by your instructor. Remember to always choose the correct instructor before completing your assignments. If you are on this website because you are motivated to manage your money wisely (Good for you!) and are choosing the self-study option, then also continue to the CashCourse tab, create an account if you haven’t already done so, then choose the topic “Spend”. There you will find resources to help you make sound financial decisions. You decide what your plan will be!