What I've learned after a month of budgeting in college

Updated: Apr 30

Hey there!

For the month of January and into February, I've been really budgeting money. I have budgeted all throughout college but I found that my methods weren't working when even after making a good income from my job and occasionally babysitting for extra money, I still had little leftover money. I had a savings account, but it wasn't growing. Instead, it was my "emergency money".

Now, I am going to London for 5 weeks in June of 2020 (I'll be going on the Mayborn in London study abroad trip, whoop!) But when I scanned over the overall price once more, my stomach plummeted. I realized then, that although I'm applying for Financial Aid and Scholarships, I need to start saving money. Like, uh, now.

So, I started a budgeting plan. I got to work. I started appreciating all of the little things. And as of now, my savings has $170 more than it did when I started, which is not much, but after a month, it's pretty okay. I must be doing something right!?

Firstly, I understand that other's aren't as fortunate as me, because my parents, as well as financial aid, pay for my college and my rent. I will not be putting these things into account (although I do occasionally help with rent). As a 19-year-old college student, I am responsible for food, extra spending, clothes, personal items, as well as the London trip.

Now, onto the post!

Why it's important to start budgeting

We all know that budgeting is a good thing to start doing, but WHY should we do it?

Well, if you don't, you'll end up like me and probably find yourself living paycheck to paycheck, no matter how much or how little you receive.

Maybe you are conscious about money, and feel like you don't need to budget. But the thing is--I was the same way, and money still fell from my fingertips. I never seemed to know where it went.

You don't need to budget, but in the long run, it may be a good idea to start!

Budgeting will help you to feel more secure with money, as well as feel more adult. When I wasn't budgeting (or was budgeting poorly), I felt childish, especially when asking my parents for help.

Honestly, I don't even remember what I spent so much money on my freshman year of college. I had a weekly allowance, and it disappeared by the middle of the week. *sigh* Oh, well!

I suppose you could say I've learned how to budget the hard way. But luckily, I've learned a lot from it, and it's already helping me save and spend less already!

What I learned after budgeting for a month

I've realized that budgeting isn't too hard at all, especially once you get started. It's really just being knowledgeable and mindful of where your money is going and coming from.

I've learned the following things:

1. You need an overall budgeting plan

My paycheck varies a little, especially right now, but I usually make a steady income every two weeks. I created a plan for myself that I implement every time I get paid, and it is what has helped me so much.

Paycheck: ~$280

~ $80 ---> Apple Pay

I hold this here for grocery money and gas money

~ $100 --> Savings

This where I save for London. And also, it feels good to save!

~ $30 --> I then allow myself to buy that book I want or pair of pants I need (It's okay to treat yourself!). It's also a good time for me to buy vitamins, cat supplies, laundry detergent, trash bags, and other random things I need about once a month or even less frequently.

This leaves me with about $70. I usually keep this in my account and avoid spending it and instead use my Apple Pay savings, limiting eating out and coffee runs. Most often, I transfer more of it to my savings at the end of the two weeks, or I use it to help my parents with rent.

I like to keep around $20-$60 in my checking for emergency ice cream, random groceries, eating out (I have long days on Tuesday's and buy dinner on campus), occasional coffee, etc. Also, having a little bit on you helps you to feel more secure.

It's not a strict plan at all, but just by implementing a routine, I have saved more than I have since summer when I lived at home and needed next to nothing in my checking.

This paycheck, I was only paid $180, which is about $115 less than normal (My boss forgot to approve my hours in time, so I'll have to wait two more weeks.). Still, I used this plan and simply transferred a little less to my savings and kept a little less in my checking.

2. Spending extra will eat out your bank account / cancel those monthly subscriptions ASAP!

I realized I've been spending $20 or more a week on coffee alone. This is because I'm tired, pass by the campus Starbucks, and give in. And when I was a freshman, I bought a new book almost every week, as well as random knick-knacks that have piled up over the years.

It's important to give yourself a set amount of extra money each week or month if you're willing to spend any. Or else, it'll eat up your account.

I just recently put a cap on my weekly spending, too, which is $25. This past Monday I got Wingstop with Jared, which was a crazy $16 for both of us, and then I spent $1 on a donut, $4 total on coffee, which leaves me with $4 left for the week! And this works out fine for me because I'm already planning to cook my own meals for the rest of the week!

Also, after doing the math, I was spending nearly $50 a month on monthly subscriptions! WHAT! I canceled most of them, and now my wallet has room to breathe. Currently, I spend $20 a month on monthly subscriptions, and a big chunk of that is WIX.

Oh, and if you ever want to buy me a coffee to support this blog and my coffee cravings, the fuel of it all, please go ahead! :)

Here's a flow-chart I made to help stop extra spending

3. You need to stop putting so much in your checking account/stop carrying around your wallet

I've found that when I carry around my wallet or leave too much in my checking, I'll end up spending it because I have it.

It's okay to spend every money. It's perfectly okay to buy that frothy latte or donate to that animal shelter or buy your mom a special gift, but I've come to realize that if I'm carrying it, I'll spend it.

This could be due to a lack of self-control (in which case, I need to use the flow-chart), but rather than testing that out, I find it better to transfer extra money to a second "savings account" like Apple Pay or Venmo where I store the money until I absolutely need it.

There have been many times when I spend my money on coffee and snacks and find that I don't have enough for groceries, which leads me to eat into my savings.

When I have that $25 cap on my spending, too, it helps with my extra spending.

And now, there's this horrible, wonderful thing called Apple Wallet, so you can use money anywhere, without your wallet. Steer clear of this, I beg you, aha.

4. Mindful grocery shopping and discount grocery stores are your best friends

Before I go to the grocery store, I check the kitchen and make note of what I have already, then make a list of what I need. I also like to prepare dinners and lunches in advance so I know for sure what I need and don't.

I go to the store with a single list and (almost always) come back with everything on that list.

Furthermore, I LOVE Winco and Aldi. In college, it's easy to go to the hole-in-the-wall hippie groceries with rows of Kombucha and organic produce, but discount stores also have those options, only in smaller quantities, but for half the price. They also carry bulk options.

I grocery shop once a week, or every two weeks. Sometimes, I end up getting such a good haul that it takes me two weeks to go through all the food, anyways. Regardless, I try to spend no more than $60 every two weeks on groceries.

5. Tracking your spendings and earnings will help manage your income

I've begun tracking my spending for a while, but I only recently put caps on my spendings. By tracking how much you make and spend, you can figure out where your money is going (a.k.a., my obsessive coffee addiction) and catch it red-handed, or just be more away and feel more in control.

I really like the app Fudget, an easy way to track your earnings and savings.

However, I mostly use my bullet journal to track everything (aren't you surprised?)

Here is my February spread!

I always do that math, too, to ensure that I'm not overspending on certain items.

6. Money is everywhere, and we are always abundant.

I used to be afraid of money. It would leave me so fast, and I never seemed to have enough of it. UNTIL I started budgeting, and I learned that money is our friend. And, it is everywhere.

Of course, I don't know everyone's situation. I don't know if you're in deep debt or living free. But I can assure you that we are all abundant.

Over this past month, I've begun reciting the affirmations "I am a money magnet!" and "I am going to London for free!" and money has been seemingly showing up on my doorstep. With random free meals, finding some loose change or dollars on the ground, and sprouting babysitting gigs, I've come to realize that I am okay, and the money will arrive, in time.

Try to release control of money for a bit, and note every miracle that happens. Slip that extra dollar you found in your savings account, appreciate the random gifts you receive from family and friends, and praise the 10% off your dark roast coffee because you brought in a travel mug. Be appreciative of everything that comes your way.

I've also been tapping on abundance and money. You can find a video here.

A book that my mom and I like, which talks all about money and abundance is (excuse my language) Get Rich Lucky Bitch, which you can find here. I highly recommend it!

I know money is stressful, but it doesn't have to be.

Release your fear of money, begin your budgeting plan, and allow great abundance to come your way! Act as if you already have the money, but of course, don't mindlessly buy things you don't need.


I’m still working with my fears toward money, as well as my overall budgeting plan, but no one’s ways are ever perfect. I plan on writing another budgeting post when my plan organizes itself a bit more and I get used to the money cap!

The best thing to do is start attracting abundance while also starting your very own budgeting plan. Get rid of those subscriptions, and cut out unnecessary spending. Then, you’ll be on the right track for saving money and feeling more secure about abundance.

Simply being mindful of your income and spending is all that really matters.

Related posts you may like ~

How to prepare for college with ease

The first month of college, a reflection

Clearing ego, grabbing life by the reins, and other goals

Do you budget? If so, what is your method? Let me know below!

Also, be sure to like this post if you enjoyed it, and share it with a friend!

Probably budgeting,


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