College Connect – Keeping a budget

By Jenna Miller

Most of my life I haven’t kept a budget. I didn’t see the need to put energy into recording what I make and spend. I never looked at my credit statement or my bills and I thought it worked totally fine. Even living in New York City, paying for college, rent and food, I always found there was magically enough left at the end of the month to polish off my bills and my credit card charges. Sometimes there was even a little extra to start skimming the top off my student loans.

My finances, like most of my life, were a bit disorganized though. Loan statements would sit in my inbox for weeks unopened and I would find 20s crumpled up in my jacket pockets when the autumn chill rolled in for the first time.

Then one month instead of a crumpled bill I found a crumpled check for hundreds of dollars in the bottom of my workbag. It was three months old and I hadn’t deposited it or noticed it missing. It got me thinking about how many other times I had lost money and how much money was going in and out without me having any idea. I tend to be a bit of a control freak, but I realized that I had no control over my money because I didn’t even know what was going on. That was the month I made my first budget, and since then I have always tracked what I was supposed to have and what I was spending on.

Although I still may not be as strict as I should be, it was a valuable lesson for me to learn and has kept my money in order.

Jenna Miller is a student at Arizona State University.

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