Say the word 'budget', and people tend to get a little unnerved. Budgeting brings up images of having no cash in your pocket - not being able to do anything fun - and living a life of TV and Ramen noodles. Done properly - nothing could be further from the truth.
Setting yourself up on a budget is nothing more than telling your money where it is going. Want money in your pocket - put it in the budget. Want one night out a week - plan for it in your budget. It's just a matter of planning out exactly where you're going to spend your dough - and balancing the income with the out-go. There are a number of different ways to do your budgeting and there are lots of resources online to help you put your budget on paper.
The first thing you have to do is track your spending for a month to see where your money is going now. Keep every receipt and track every dollar you spend. At the end of the month write it all out and seperate every expenditure into the categories you want to set up in your budget. Most of the time it will be a real eye opener when you see how much you're spending on things like take-out food and those morning coffees.
The main thing is you have to know where your money is going - or where it went. Otherwise, how will you figure out if you're going to have enough money at the end of the month, instead of too much month at the end of the money.
Once you've figured out how you spend your money, the next step is to set up your budget to stay within your available cash limit. Your income and your expenses must always offset each other. That includes extras such as savings, charitable giving if you think that's important as a student, and every penny that leaves your pocket or bank account. But as I mentioned earlier, budget in the extras like one night out per week if you want - as long as you are able to balance the numbers when all is said and done.
There is lots more to the whole process (and they will be the subjects of future posts) but basically make a budget - stick with it - give it a chance - It will help you on the road to being a Money Smart Student!!