Tools to Use
Budgets and Spending Plans
Know Your Paycheck
Checking Accounts
Savings Accounts
Credit Cards
Wants vs. Needs
Invest in Yourself
Financial Goals


The first step in controlling spending is knowing what you're spending money on. To do that, you need to track where your money goes.

An easy way to do this is to write down everything you buy for a month or two—even just a week is helpful. Use the expenses chart from this Web site, or record things in a small notebook you can carry in your pocket or purse.

Be sure to jot down even the smallest expenses, including that soft drink or latte you bought at the mall. Even if you keep track for two or three weeks, you'll start to see how your money disappears, little by little. Then you can think about ways you can control spending.

Start today. You'll be amazed at where your money goes.

Ways to Control Your Spending

Once you've tracked your spending, you are likely to realize that some of your habits such as smoking, can add up to a lot of money. At almost $3 a pack, cigarettes are one sure way to burn up your budget. You know all the bad things smoking does to your body, but remind yourself how it affects your financial health, too.

Save your money and kick the habit now; it'll help keep your financial goals from going up in smoke!

What other things do you buy that cause money to "leak" from your pockets? Instead of purchasing cold drinks from a vending machine, buy a 12-pack at the grocery store and keep some in a dorm refrigerator. If you buy midnight snacks from the machine because the cafeteria is closed, buy crackers or snacks at the grocery store and store them in your room. See this chart for other spending leaks and how much you could save.

Now that you're an adult, you understand the marketing game. If we all believed what they tell us on television, just wearing the right shoe would mean we're young, good-looking, and always having fun. Right. Brand names are a huge temptation. You can probably list cool brands and not-so-hot brands off the top of your head. Often brand names don't even equate to quality, but have the force of millions of dollars of advertising and marketing behind them. Do you want to be like everybody else? Or do you want to be an original? Some ideas: Shop vintage stores for eclectic styles. Cruise end-of-season sales. Browse through thrift stores for awesome deals and one-of-a-kind looks. You'll look cool and your wallet will thank you.

Peer pressure is something you're used to by now. It can be a factor in college, too. Although you might not want to be the only person who turns down a beer, it's OK if you don't want it. College is about becoming comfortable with who you are, not who others want you to be.

Think about ways you can meet your needs in creative, less costly ways.

Click Here for this chart in .pdf format. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this files. Download it here for free.

I buy…
This costs…
I could substitute…
This costs…
Weekly Savings
Yearly Savings
Sodas from the vending machine $12 per week
$1.00 each (two per day, six days per week)
12-pack from the store $3.00
(divided by 12) = $.25 each
(six days)
Cigarettes $6 per week
$3.00/pack, two packs per week
Stopping Nothing $312.00 (plus untold amounts in future health costs)
Latte at gourmet coffee shop $10.50 per week
3 times per week $3.50/each
Coffee at dorm $1.50 per week
$.50 per cup
Driving to class every day $2.00 per gallon for gas, plus parking Taking the bus with student ID Free $6.00
per week cost
(for two semesters)
Cellphone plan Buying a prepaid cellphone plan, or buying a calling card A lot less, plus no surprises

Try writing down some of your frequent expenses. We've all got them. Now add them up. Are you surprised by how much you can save?

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