Money. We use it in some way or another every single day. So, since money is such a staple in our everyday lives, you’d naturally think that we would give more thought to how, where, and why we are spending it.
Last year during winter break of my freshman year of college, I stumbled upon an interesting and eye-opening article in the Teen Vogue magazine that I was reading. The author of the article, Jessica Ciencin Henriquez, told her own story of young adult debt and how she got her finances back on track.
I began thinking about how I budget my own finances. I realized that I really do not budget at all. My economics teacher during my senior year of high school had us actually make a budget. I went back to that project to see how my thoughts about budgeting different expenses from two years ago compared to my budgeting skills now. Being a millennial, I am very aware that I am more likely to buy a venti iced chai from Starbucks every morning before class, unlike than my parents who brew a pot of coffee each morning. It made me realize that my money habits might not be as rational as the budgeting of older generations; furthermore, my budgeting is greatly influenced by the trends in my age group.
Millennials continue to spend, spend, spend… so are we saving as much as we should? It is hard to save much between student loans, car payments, groceries, and different forms of entertainment. However, now is the time to make small changes in order to live a more money-conscious lifestyle because most millennials are now entering adulthood.
Here are three steps that I have integrated into my own life to help my budgeting skills:
If you have a credit card, go online and look at your monthly spending analysis. My credit card displays a pie chart at the end of each payment cycle, showing me where my money went that cycle. It helps me to identify areas that I spent moderately in, and others that I went a bit overboard with.
2. If you do not have a credit card, get one. Carrying less cash makes me less inclined to make a spontaneous purchase. Putting a small amount on your card each month and paying it off on time helps to build responsibility, as well as your credit score.
3. Make an Excel spreadsheet and type out categories in which to allocate your money. Setting limits for yourself will help you to get into a routine and it will make it easier for you to decide whether or not to spend money on certain items.
Saving money is hard, but it’s so beneficial. Understanding the long term benefits of being responsible with your money at a young age will help you to be responsible with your finances in the future. It is okay to splurge every once in a while, but being a saver rather than a spender will save you the time and energy that you would have spent worrying about your finances.