This week I had money conversations with several college students and the top question asked has been: "When should I start budgeting?". TL;DR answer is: if you have an income and don't use a budget, you should start today.
Many folks don't budget their money because they think "I don't spend much, I can keep track of it all in my mind." But can you remember every monthly subscription and absolutely every charge each month? 🤔
Another popular reason for not budgeting is "I don't make for it to make a difference." While your budget may be small, that is no reason to not learn how to manage your budget now. In fact, it's a lot easier to figure out your budget when your budget is small.
With a small budget, you can begin to figure out what kind of budget works for you. Start to play around with saving goals, a good place to start is emergency savings. You will begin to learn how to create a budget, start a routine of checking in with your budget to review your progress, and setting money goals each month.
If you've never created a budget before, start by keeping track of your expenses for 2 weeks. Every time you pay for something, write it down. At the end of 2 weeks you will have your spending for half a month, you can double this and have a good estimate for your monthly budget to start with.
Now that you have a good idea of your spending you can begin to put together your budget. Build your savings and debt repayment goals into your budget, this way all your responsibilities are taken care of and what is left over can be considered your "spending cash".
Stick to your budget and check-in periodically to review and track your progress. This will draw your attention to any area where you may be over-spending and help you curb your spending to stay in-line with your budget for the month.
Remember, that in the beginning you're figuring out what works for you. You may have to make some changes in the first few months, don't worry, that's normal. Most importantly, to stick to it and your new money habits will begin to stick! You will begin to feel confident in your money choices and assured that your responsibilities are taken care of each month.
So go for it and build your budget today!