Building a Budget

Now that college has consumed much of our money, how are we supposed to know how much ‘extra’ money we have? To spend or save? That is the real question; you may never have the opportunity to travel about the world, but also, you want money saved for retirement.

The answer? Saving money! You always need to keep in mind your needs, wants, and priorities, but along with that comes mental strength, the ability to say no. You need to have the ability to say no to that new shirt – the money is for the future. But, maybe you NEED that shirt because you have never seen anything like it. Walk away… do you want the shirt, or to have a little extra spending money for that summer vacation? When you create a budget, you are able to estimate your income, subtract your expenses, include what goes to savings, and you are left with, hopefully, a little money! Yesterday, I found a budget online and according to the website, if I keep spending like I do, I am going to be $55 in the hole by the end of the month. You should always overestimate your expenses, so I probably have roughly $100 extra to spend on ‘fun’ activities this month.

My ‘fun’ activities include seeing Billy Joel at Lambeau Field this past weekend, and leaving for New York City tomorrow morning! $100 ahead is going to be more like $100 below in just a few days. It is amazing how quickly money can “disappear”. That is why it is beneficial for everyone to create a budget so they are aware of how much they are truly spending.

So, to build a budget, you must first determine a financial goal: a trip, college, house, car, retirement, etc.? Of course, every month, you can put money aside for each savings goal you have – some being more important than others. Next, you need to find a budgeting tool that works best for you. There are hundreds of them on the internet, or you can visit your bank and I am sure they would love to help you out. UWL also has a resource center, It Make$ Cents! where they will walk you through the steps on how to make a realistic budget. They also have budgeting calculators available to you, along with some budgeting tips. Although the It Make$ Cents! Office is closed throughout the month of July, their website is still available to you and is very useful to first time budgeters.

Tonight, I have a list of items I need to buy (maybe more of a girly want) before I leave tomorrow. Maybe I can talk myself into taking a few things off that list – will power (or maybe won’t power)! After creating my budget yesterday, I should be living in a hole and giving someone else my plane tickets, but life is meant to be enjoyed, therefore, I am going on the trip and will probably spend a few too many dollars.

Budgeting is a very important factor to being financially successful, and it can take many, many years to reach the point of ‘happiness’ with money, that is, if money is your happiness. Or, maybe it’s the satisfying feeling of saving money to enjoy that goal you have been working hard to reach. Everyone has goals that need to be set, followed, and obtained in life to be happy, and creating a budget is the first step towards that goal.


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