Shape Up Your Spending

Financial Fitness
Shape Up Your Spending
A Guide For College Students

How Do You Feel About Money?

If you received a $500 gift what would you do with it? Put it in the bank? Buy clothes? Make a down payment on a car? Buy a VCR? Put it toward paying your college tuition?

How you spend your money depends on how you feel about money. To some people, money is power. To others, it means status and prestige. To others, it means security. Some people use money to get the things they want. Others just want to have enough to pay for day-to-day needs. What type of money spender are you? Do you fit into more than one category?

Money Spender Type 1. These spenders spend money only for what they need. They like to save for emergencies and have money in their pockets. These spenders shop around for the best deal.

Money Spender Type 2. People in this category like nothing but the best. They feel they must spend money to get ahead in life and that cheap stuff isn’t worth much. Expensive clothes are important to this spending group.

Money Spender Type 3. This group of spenders feel they deserve the nice things in life and that nobody ever has enough. They feel people should buy the things they want NOW; therefore, credit is necessary.

Money Spender Type 4. These spenders feel worrying about money never helps. They live by the philosophy people should not worry because the money will come from somewhere. This group thinks keeping track of spending can drive people crazy.

Money Spender Type 5. This group feel money cannot buy happiness. They think they can have fun without spending money and that other things are more important than money.

Shape Up Tip #1

Try to understand how you feel about money. This will help you shape up your spending to meet your needs.


What Are Your Spending Goals?

Some expenses – such as food, clothes, shelter, tuition, or organization dues – are necessary. But what do you wish you could spend your money on? These wishes are your spending goals. It helps to write down these goals and decide which ones to work on first, second, and so on.


Shape Up Tip #2

Set spending goals. These can act as a guide to help you spend money for the things that are most important to you. You can use Worksheet 1 to list your spending goals. In the first column, write down the things you would like to have or do soon, say within the next six months. In the second column, list the things you would like to do in three or four years.


Worksheet 1 – Spending Goals

Goals (Soon) Money Needed Goals (Later) Money Needed
__________________________ ___________ __________________________ ___________
__________________________ ___________ __________________________ ___________
__________________________ ___________ __________________________ ___________
__________________________ ___________ __________________________ ___________
__________________________ ___________ __________________________ ___________
__________________________ ___________ __________________________ ___________
__________________________ ___________ __________________________ ___________
__________________________ ___________ __________________________ ___________
__________________________ ___________ __________________________ ___________
__________________________ ___________ __________________________ ___________
__________________________ ___________ __________________________ ___________
__________________________ ___________ __________________________ ___________
__________________________ ___________ __________________________ ___________
__________________________ ___________ __________________________ ___________

Plan Ahead For Some Expenses

What do you spend your money on? Do you ever wonder where all your money goes? If you plan ahead and estimate your expenses, you will be better prepared to handle expenses when they occur.

Some money is phantom money – it just seems to disappear from your wallet. Many times phantom money is actually spent on items such as snacks, magazines, and/or stamps. Over time, amounts spent on these items add up to a large amount of money. For example, 50 cents a day for a soda can add up to more than $125 a year! Not that drinking a can of soda a day is bad, but you may decide to save that money for something else.

Shape Up Tip #3

Watch for phantom money spending. On Worksheet 2, for one or two weeks, keep track of all the money you spend. Then ask yourself, “Do I really want to spend my money on these things?”


Worksheet 2 – Spending Record

Date Item Purchased Amount
___________ ___________________________________ ___________
___________ ___________________________________ ___________
___________ ___________________________________ ___________
___________ ___________________________________ ___________
___________ ___________________________________ ___________
___________ ___________________________________ ___________
___________ ___________________________________ ___________
___________ ___________________________________ ___________
___________ ___________________________________ ___________
___________ ___________________________________ ___________
________
___
___________________________________ ___________
___________ ___________________________________ ___________
___________ ___________________________________ ___________
___________ ___________________________________ ___________
___________ ___________________________________ ___________
___________ ___________________________________ ___________
___________ ___________________________________ ___________
___________ ___________________________________ ___________

Shape Up Tip #4

Plan ahead for your expenses by using the spending calendar in Worksheet 3.


Worksheet 3 – Annual Spending Calendar

Write in the expenses you will have once or twice a year. This should help you remember when large expenses occur. You may be able to spread these out over the year if you plan ahead.

Item Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Tot.
Tuition _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
Books _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
Holidays _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
Birthdays _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
School Supplies _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
Clothing _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
Organizations _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
Subscriptions _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
Goal #1 _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
Goal #2 _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
Goal #3 _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
Other _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
Other _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
Other _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____
Total _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____

Matching Expenses And Income

Now you are ready to try to match expenses with income. Just follow the steps listed below and use Worksheet 4 to set up your own spending plan.

Step 1. On the top line, write down the income you expect to receive each week. This could be money from a part-time job, parents, scholarship, and/or student loan.

Step 2. In the top half of the
worksheet, list your fixed expenses. Fixed expenses are those you pay a specific amount of money for every week or month for a specified period of time. These include budget items such as tuition, rent, credit card payments, and car payments. Check your spending calendar to be sure you have included all of them. You may need to spread some expenses over two or more weeks.

Step 3. As you list a fixed expense, subtract it from the amount left from your income.

Step 4. List your flexible expenses in the bottom half of the worksheet. Flexible expenses vary from week to week and can be controlled and managed to some extent. Examples of flexible expenses include food, clothing, gasoline, telephone, and personal care. Again, check your spending calendar to be sure you have included all of your flexible expenses. You may need to spread some expenses over several weeks.

Step 5. As you list a flexible expense, subtract it from the amount you have left from your income.


Worksheet 4 – Spending Plan

Fixed Expenses $________ $________ $________ $________ $________
_______________ ________
Balance
________ ________ ________ ________
_______________ ________
Balance
________ ________ ________ ________
_______________ ________
Balance
________ ________ ________ ________
_______________ ________
Balance
________ ________ ________ ________
_______________ ________
Balance
________ ________ ________ ________
Flexible Expenses $________ $________ $________ $________ $________
_______________ ________
Balance
________ ________ ________ ________
_______________ ________
Balance
________ ________ ________ ________
_______________ ________
Balance
________ ________ ________ ________
_______________ ________
Balance
________ ________ ________ ________
_______________ ________
Balance
________ ________ ________ ________
_______________ ________
Balance
________ ________ ________ ________

Making Changes

You may find your income does not always meet all of your expenses. When this happens, you will need to look for ways to spend less. Here are some suggestions:

  • Find the best buy — Look in several places – two or three stores, newspapers, catalogs – to find the best deal for your money. Spend time looking before you spend your money.
  • Use wisely — Make the things you buy last longer by taking proper care of them.
  • Share it — Stretch resources by sharing with friends and other students.
  • Find it free — Some items are available free. Use university facilities instead of expensive health clubs for exercise. Borrow books, records, and videotapes from the library rather than buying them.
  • Watch phantom money — Keep track of the money in your wallet. Cut back or cut out unnecessary spending on snacks, phone calls, movies, magazines, and record/book/videotape clubs.
  • Don’t buy it — Ask yourself if you really need this item or if there is something you want even more. Learn to say no to yourself, to salespeople, and to things you feel pressured into buying. Doing without one item can help you get something else you want more.
  • Minimize credit purchases — Buying on credit ties up future income. Before making a purchase on credit, make sure the credit payment will fit into your overall budget.

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