An important step after graduating college and becoming independent is learning how to keep a personal budget. It can be hard to resist the urge to go out and spend all the money you earned on social activities or new clothes but knowing how to keep track of your finances early on can help you avoid any mishaps in the future. Here are some tips on how to get into new spending habits:

Necessity VS Luxary : After college it can be hard to change your mindset from the way you spent your money. Things like buying a coffee on your way to class or going out to dinner a couple nights a week need to fall by the way side. Make a list of everything you spend your money on, and ask yourself “Is this something I really need or am I just used to having it?”. For example, instead of buying the full cable package that included TV and internet, I chose to just have an internet connection and nothing else (it’s not as bad as you think it’s going to be).

Income-Expenses: Creating a budget for yourself is a key step in managing your money because it’s always good to know how much money you can actually spend and helps you become more disciplined in your spending habits. Add up all the sources of income you will receive for the month and then add up all the bills and expenses you expect to get that month (rent, electric bill etc.) this also includes estimating the amount you’ll spend going on with friends or purchasing new clothes. Income-Expenses and you’ll have either a positive or negative number, positive gets put into the bank while negative means you need to get rid of some expenses.

Start saving: It is important that you make it a habit to put money into your savings account for emergencies. There are things in life that you might not expect to happen, so having that security of some backup money is always a comfort. Try to set up an automatic transfer from your checking to your savings every month of any amount of money you think is appropriate, just as long as you put some away.

Eat at home: When you have a lot going on and get home after a long day, the last thing you want to do is cook yourself a meal so you call someplace that delivers. This is one of the easiest ways to throw money away so instead of waiting to cook your meals till you get home plan your weekly meals. There are websites  that let you put in what ingredients you have and then give you some meal options for the week.

When you first start budgeting your own money it can be stressful, but just try to stay organized and remember that you won’t get it right the first time, and it may take a few different budgets before you get the right one that works for your life. What tricks do you use to save money and keep yourself on a budget?