As the years pass, and you grow older and older, you will begin obtaining more responsibility. This responsibility might first appear as your first job, packing your own lunch or simply learning how to manage your own time. Eventually, you will be responsible for paying bills. To name just a few of mine:
- Insurance bill (car, personal articles policy)
- Monthly rent
- Monthly utilities
- Weekly gas
During the school year, I work in a restaurant, getting about 25 hours a week. As a host, I make a little over $4 an hour, plus tips. My tips range from $12 on a slow night to $35 on a good night. My groceries cost about $50 per week (throw in random stuff I always need to pick up like toothpaste, toilet paper, laundry detergent, razor blades, etc.) So how do you make ends meet when you’re only making about $200/wk?
Side note: Budgets don’t work. They never do and never will. You will NEVER be able to stick to your budget perfectly. Situations arise and you will have to break your budget. But I will teach you how to do so in an effective way.
Step 1. Figure out everything you need to pay for.
My current budget looks a little like this:
- Car Lease
- Car Insurance
- What I need
Keep in mind, groceries are not on there because I am living at home for the summer, so I get to eat my parents food 🙂
The “What I need” category is a running list I have of things that are broken or need to be replaced or something I really, really need or really, really want. Here is my “What I need list” I am slowly chugging through this summer:
- Underwear/Bras (why does this have to be so expensive?!)
- Money I owe Mom & Dad (borrowed money for rent, car repairs and groceries throughout the school year…we’ll get to “loans” in a moment)
- Glass screen protector
- Storage (I’ve had zero storage on my phone forever now…with 1 picture on my camera roll, 10 apps and 1 message thread at all times. And YES all my snap memories are deleted, too!)
- White poster board (for stock photos)
- New mascara
- New shorts (I’ve been wearing the same shorts since sophomore year of high school)
- New tea tree oil/Herbalism (from my skincare routine!)
And those are only some. It’s important to not neglect this list.
Now that you know everything you need to pay for, create categories. I would recommend when starting out to use Google Sheets.
I create 5 headings. “Category” “Price” “Check Date” “Check Amount” “Amount Allotted From Check.”
Step 2. Determine how much you make.
How much do you make and how often do you get paid? For this example, let’s say you’re working at a movie theatre for $10/hr, getting 35 hours a week and you get paid every other Friday. So you’re making $700 before taxes, per pay check. Let’s say (rough estimate) after taxes you’re making $575.00.
Step 3. Budget!
Now comes the part where you need to break everything down. So if you get paid 3 times per month at $575.00 per pay check, you’re bringing in roughly $1,725.00/month. Now take a look at your expenses. You know rent is $400 per month. You don’t want to just cut $400.00 out of one check. Instead, set aside $150.00 per pay check. Then you have the $400.00 PLUS a $50 buffer. (You ALWAYS want a buffer).
In the case of this budget, you would have $195.00 remaining to spend. This would go towards your “What I Need” list, your free money and hopefully, you’ll put some of it into a savings account. Try putting 10% of that remaining money into your savings. You’ll thank yourself later – trust me.
Step 4. Plan for emergencies.
As I mentioned before, there will come a day when an emergency arises and you have to break your budget. Maybe your car breaks down or your basement floods. When drawing out of your budget, you have to be careful. Firstly, prioritize. What needs to be paid soon? What is something you can go without?
For example, there was a time when I had to go into my budget because I was missing a textbook for a class. If you know anything about college textbooks, you know they aren’t cheap. It was a $120.00 textbook!! I pulled $10 from groceries, $10 from gas, $10 from my “free money”, $20 from my “What I Need” category, $50 from savings and picked up a Monday night shift to make the last $20.
Remember: you won’t be living like this forever. But live smart now, so you can live well later.
Step 5. Know when to ask for help.
There comes a time when you simply just cannot make ends meet. That is when you need to ask for help.
First, determine who you can go to. For me, it’s my parents. You could be in a different situation. If it’s your bank you need a loan from, talk with your bank to figure out that process.
Just don’t forget to pay back. I have a running spreadsheet of what I owe my parents.
I owe them thousands for things ranging from school-related fees to something as simple as a lunch with co-workers I was embarrassed about turning down due to lack of funds. Set a due date for these refunds so the person feels better about lending your money.
The bottom line is – don’t be afraid to ask for help when you’re in the hole. Chances are, whoever is helping you has been there too.
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