Like anyone fresh out of college, I was stoked to get my first “real” job and move into my very own apartment. But with my great desire to start adulting also came some not so great responsibilities – budgeting. Now numbers may really be your thing, and that’s okay, but for people like myself, this is a topic that induces a lot of stress and one I often tend to avoid.
However, I’ve noticed the more you avoid this discussion, the more of a stressor it becomes. A recent survey found that over half of millennials are too worried about their current financial state even to start planning for the future.
Starting your budget is going to be the key to living a stress-free life and to start saving for the future. Here are some tips from one millennial to another on how to create your financial plan.
Set your goals.
Is it to finally pay off those student loans? Save for a future home? Take a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Whatever it is, write down your goals and tailor your financial plan to your needs and wants.
Don’t feel like when you finally set a goal you’re stuck with it. Priorities change. I like to reevaluate my budgeting objective at the beginning of every year. Currently, it’s to fill my empty apartment, but next year it may be to get that new iPhone with the 5 cameras that I’ve been eyeing.
Create your budget.
If you’re like me, this is the most daunting task – actually creating the budget. Many people use Google Sheets or Excel, but I’m all for convenience. If you want something quick and easy, a budget calculator is a simple tool for forming your financial plan.
Know how much is coming in, but more importantly, how much is going out.
Ever heard of income minus expenses? Well, this is exactly how you start calculating your budget! First, figure out your gross income and then subtract your monthly tax deductions.
Here comes the fun part – expenses (jokes!). I remember wondering how I knew I was going to spend $200 a month towards food because when ya girl needs her sushi, she needs her sushi.
To help you out, I’ve made a list of the important stuff to include in your budget:
- Rent (don’t forget about utilities, power, water, etc.)
- Car (gas, maintenance)
- Food (pho, pizza, ice cream, the list is endless)
- Essentials (what can you not live without?)
- Shopping (we all know Amazon will quickly put a dent in this)
- Subscriptions (Netflix, Spotify, the new Disney+ you’ve waited months to have)
- Savings (it’s never too early to start!)
- Fun (your weekly outings with the squad)
- Miscellaneous (insert your gaming needs here)
Actually stick to it.
This one is particularly hard for me. I always tend to start budgeting with the intention of seeing it through, then slowly lose momentum as the months pass. When this happens, my Target excursions get way out of hand! But when I stay committed to my budget I tend to save more for the important things like a much-needed vaca or night out without breaking bank.
See the patterns of your spending.
Small expenses add up. For example, the NGPF found that millennials spend almost $40 a week on coffee. I love a good pour-over as much as the next person, but instead of purchasing a $5.50 cup every day, try making your own cup of joe three times a week. By doing so, you could save almost $1,000 annually.
What are you waiting for?
No one said starting a budget is easy, and I’ve definitely never heard anyone call it fun. But a bank who cares makes it way easier for you to start. First Internet Bank lets you track the comings and goings of your cash at your convenience, allowing you to spend more time doing the things you love – like adulting.