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Back to the Basics: Budgeting Edition

At RaiseMe, we are committed to helping students realize their goals in college and beyond. Money — where we get it, what we think about it, and how we manage it — is one of the foundational pillars to get you there. That’s why we are giving you our Back to the Basics Budgeting piece, to help students like yourself feel confident in knowing you can take control of your finances, no matter what your unique situation may be.

Budgeting is the heart of money management. It doesn’t matter what your job is. You could work an after-school job, do chores around the house, or be the neighborhood’s go-to babysitter. And it doesn’t matter your age or background or location. Anyone who receives money needs to learn how to budget it. By mastering budgeting as a young student, you can set yourself up for success to and through college, and into your career and your life.

WHAT IS A BUDGET?

If “money management” for you has been slipping bills and coins into your childhood piggy bank, like it is for many  students, then the concept budgeting may be new to you. Let’s break it down to its most basic form. Budgeting is:

 

Tracking the money you make compared to the money you spend.

 

HOW TO BUDGET

Now let’s actually take some simple steps to creating a budget. There is a little bit of math, but we promise it’s doable!

1. Write down your monthly income: on average, how much money do you make each month.

2. Write down your monthly expenses: on average, what do you spend your money on each month and how much do each of those things cost.

3. Compare your income to your expenses: Subtract your expenses from your income.

4. See your total at the end of the month: If you have money left over, that’s great! You can put this towards your savings goals. If you are spending more than you make, then it’s time to see where you can cut back. Take a look at your expenses, and see where you can spend less and save more.  

5. Track your spending and plan ahead: Now that you see what money you are left with (or without) at the end of the month, you can plan ahead based on your needs and goals.

To provide more clarity on what a simple budget may look like for you, here’s a quick example of how you can structure your own:

My monthly budget Activity Money per month Total
Income
Waitressing 400
$500
Babysitting 100
Expenses
Food 70
$220
Cell phone bill 50
Fun 40
Gas for car 40
Other 20
Money left at end of month $280


WHY BUDGET?

Once you get the hang of it you’ll quickly realize that a budget is an exciting key to help you get to your financial goals — whether that’s saving for an Xbox, or putting money aside for college. Once you’re at college, or if you’re already there, budgeting only becomes more important as more and more expenses get added into your life. Getting into good money habits early on will set you up for success.

MORE RESOURCES FOR YOU

Financial planning tips for high school students

Free budget worksheet

Understanding college financial aid

Samantha leads community engagement at RaiseMe. By sharing helpful resources and conveying student stories, Samantha hopes to help students define and find their paths to and through college.

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