Free Budgeting Templates & Resources for College Students
Technology has made it easier and more convenient than ever to keep your finances in check. With the help of pre-made budget templates, easy-to-use apps, and free access to financial advice right at your fingertips, you can stay on top of your income and spending, keep track of your credit score, and make sure you never miss a bill payment again. Here are some awesome free budgeting templates and resources to help you keep track of your finances.
Pen and Paper Methods
For those who prefer the paper and pencil method, your tool of choice may be a notebook. By writing out each category of spending and tracking it to get a realistic number based on your spending history, it will be easier to think clearly about your budget and visualize the specific categories. And then you can use your notebook as a resource when you decide to set up a digital spreadsheet, budgeting template, or money management app.
Here’s an effective way to start tracking your budget in your notebook:
- Look up your bank statements online or get a physical copy if you don’t use online banking.
- Create categories based on items on your statement. This could include categories for gas, rent, food, school supplies, etc.
- Get an average of what you spend on each category. For example, write out how much you spend on food each week, and multiply that to get a monthly amount.
- Once you see the actual amount you’ve been spending in each category, you can create a budget with realistic amounts to set aside. You can also pinpoint places where you may want to cut back.
The Envelope System
The envelope system is a great way to break you of the habit of putting everything on a credit or debit card, and to help you really see how much you spend on various categories. The idea is that you designate an envelope to each category of spending, and then put actual cash in that envelope according to your budget. For example, you would make an envelope for groceries, an envelope for gas, an envelope for dining out, an envelope for entertainment, etc. You’ll probably find that it’s much harder to spend money when you’re physically holding cash in your hand. You will also become more aware of categories in which you overspend, helping you cut back on unnecessary spending.
Family and lifestyle blogger Abby Lawson originally designed this budget binder to help her family get their finances in order. Lawson says the binder materials are meant to make budgeting less intimidating and more simple for people willing to devote a little bit of time each day to track expenses. The worksheets are available to print for free (3-ring binder not included, obviously), and are a great option for savvy spenders who prefer a non-electronic means for tracking expenses.
Smartsheet.com has a wide variety of downloadable budget templates to use in Excel. They have templates for a business budget, family budget, and even a template for college students. They also have a wedding budget, holiday spending budget, and personal budget so you can stay financially responsible with every aspect and event of your life.
If you’re a fan of Microsoft Office, check out their free budget templates. These templates provide an easy way to track your income and expenses in Excel (without having to be an Excel wizard). This particular template has a slider functionality that allows you to quickly scroll through your data month after month. There are a myriad of formats and styles to choose from, so you’re likely to find one that best suits you and your household.
Mint is a popular app that allows you to create customized budgets that sync with your bank and credit card accounts, so you can track your spending effortlessly. You can add your bills and pay them right from the app. You can also set up alerts, notifications, and reminders as due dates approach. Perhaps the most powerful feature is that you can sync your bank account so the app can track your spending for you, letting you know if your funds are low, if something suspicious has appeared, or if you’re coming up on the due date of a bill.
These are just a few of the free options available to individuals looking to get their finances in order. As a college student, it’s important to manage your expenses and with the Internet at your disposal, you’re likely to find a free template or service that works best for you. How do you maintain your household budget? We’d love to hear from you on Facebook and Twitter!