Making Limited Funds Last
Creating and following a budget is the key to making limited funds last; this is especially important if you rely on financial aid for living expenses. It’s easy to find yourself in trouble if you don’t have a financial plan at the start of the term. Your budget will be your guide for determining the things for which you have money and the things you don’t. Budgeting does not have to be complicated or overwhelming. Whether you use an online tool, such as those available to Cummings students through www.saltmoney.org, or you prefer writing your budget on paper, the following tips will help you develop a budget.
1. Determine your resources
Add up your resources. Include the financial aid you receive for living expenses, income from work, money you have in the bank and any other resources you have or expect to receive.
2. Determine your expenses
Add up your expenses. A typical budget includes standard monthly expenses, such as rent, food, utilities, transportation, etc. For a period of time (at least two weeks during your regular routine), write down everything you spend. Include every purchase, small and large. This exercise will give you an idea of what you really spend. You must also factor in any non-standard spending that does not occur monthly.
3. Determine where you stand
Hopefully, you will find that your resources will meet your expenses and that you have a balanced budget. If your expenses exceed your resources, you must either decrease your expenses or increase your resources. Working to earn extra money may be an option to help you balance your budget; however, as a full time student, you may face time constraints which limit your availability to work. Cutting expenses is often required to balance a budget.
4. Be realistic
Most people, especially students, must limit their purchases and activities. Living on a fixed budget does not mean you can never have any fun, but it may mean you can’t participate in all the things you’d like to if money is involved.
5. Beware of plastic
It may be tempting to supplement a budget shortfall by using a credit card, but doing so may be a risky, short-term “fix,” unless it’s an emergency and you have a plan for paying off the balance quickly.
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