Last week we talked about budgeting your money, the goal being to have your income exceed your expenses. “Why would I want to leave money sitting around when I can buy cool things like [insert cool thing here]?” Well, I’ll give you a few reasons. Spending less than you make ensures you have money on hand for emergency situations, like when your clunker of a car disintegrates en route. Another reason to spend less than you make is so you can save money for the future. Saving allows you to eventually get the things you want (a swanky new car, a comfortable retirement, etc.) while staying within your budget and avoiding debt in the present.
You may be thinking, “Doesn’t she know how expensive life is?” I am vaguely familiar with the concept of bills. However, I also know how easy it is to trick myself into thinking I have no extra money when in reality I waste quite a bit going to the movies and eating out. One recommended method for saving is: “Pay yourself first.” Make saving part of your budget and make it one of your fixed expenses. Set a percentage or dollar amount that you want to set aside each month and move it into a savings account as soon as you get paid, rather than waiting until the end of the month to set aside whatever money is left over. Some employers and banks offer services that move this money around for you as soon as you receive your paycheck; take advantage of those programs. If you don’t have a bank account yet, get one. The University of Wisconsin Credit Union (UWCU) has a location in the lower level of the University Center, and they have services specifically designed for students.
Saving will seem less painful if you have specific goals in mind. What do you want to buy or do that you can’t afford right now? If you have hopes of traveling to Europe next summer, figure out approximately how much it will cost. Then figure out how much you will need to set aside each month to make that trip happen. If you’ve created a budget, you’ll easily be able to see where you’re spending too much money. Then you can cut expenses accordingly and start saving money to reach your goals.
Andersen Library has a book by Ronald T. Wilcox called Whatever Happened to Thrift? Why Americans Don’t Save and What to Do About It, which you can find in the Main Collection on the 3rd floor if you’re interested in learning more about this topic.
Call Number: HC110.S3 W54 2008