Carry a small notebook or use a phone app to record even the smallest expenditures such as coffee, movie tickets, snacks, and parking. Some expenses that are often ignored include music downloads, charges for extra cell phone usage, and entertainment expenses. Search for an online tool to assist you—many are free!
Decide what system you’re going to use to track and organize your financial information. There are mobile apps and computer-based programs that work well, but you can also track your spending using a pencil and paper. Be sure to be consistent and organized, and designate a space to store all your financial information. Good record-keeping saves money and time!
Click HERE for a PDF of a typical Rent Receipt.
Free Apps for Budgeting:
LearnVest. This app makes budgeting easy by securely linking to your bank account, and filing your purchases into pre-named folders like Entertainment, Groceries, Restaurants and ATM/Cash, or you can create your own. You can set a budget for each folder, as well as for essentials like rent, student loans and car payments.
Mint. This popular budgeting app also connects directly to your bank account and updates your spending automatically. You can create any number of budgets, and they can get as specific as you like: coffee, movies, alcohol and other college student necessities will all be accounted for. If you’re using a credit card for the first time, it makes sure you’ll never charge what you can’t pay back. The Cash vs. Credit feature lets you see your total credit card balances versus the cash you have to pay them off.
Slice. This keeps all the details from online purchases in one place, from receipts to shipping information. It even sends a notification when your package ships so you can keep an eye out for the delivery truck if you live off-campus. It also keeps your entire purchase history so you can upload it to a budgeting app all at once.
Check. Check (formerly Pageonce) is more of a payment and bill tracker than a budgeting app, but keeping track of bill payment for the first time can be tough to get used to, especially with everything else on a college student’s plate. You can pay bills directly from the app, so you’ll never pay a late fee, and even track investments, if you’re particularly ambitious!
PayPal Mobile. Does your friend owe you $20 but never seems to have cash on hand? If any two people have a PayPal account, they can make a transaction of any size using this app. You can also use it to pay online at restaurants, bars, etc.
Expensify. Expensify allows you to track a variety of expenses. Cash expenses, such as services paid by the hour, can be entered manually or using the SmartScan feature, which uses optical character recognition (OCR) to read and input the merchant name, transaction date and amount. You are allowed ten free SmartScans per month; after that, each SmartScan costs 20 cents.
Hello Expense. The free Android utility makes it easy to store expense info on the go. When you open the application, you're greeted with a plain black-and-white form with a small handful of fields: the date, the expense category, the expense amount and any memo or tags you wish to add.
MoneyWise. The app has functions for generating charts and graphs; it can also track budgets and create regular backups on your device's storage. MoneyWise can export data in CSV or HTML formats; that data can then be sent via email or to any sharing-capable Android app.
*The university has no association with these apps. They are simply a tool to assist budgeting purposes.
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