- How much money do you have coming in for a fixed period of time? The most important functioning of budgeting is planning your expenses to ensure your spending is staying within your means.
- What are your necessary expenses? How much are your books going to cost? What about your additional food costs (above and beyond you meal plan)? Do you need to pay for transportation home during break periods? Your first budgeted expenses should be the necessary items which you cannot live without (Pop Tarts are not included).
- What are your preferred expenses? These would be your entertainment expenses and clothing expenses. Items that are important to you, but are not essential.
- What are your desired expenses? These are the items that you may want, but you realize do not have significant lasting value. Do you really need an X-Box? Is the latest DVD player something you absolutely have to have? This is the area where most students have difficulty, especially if you spend your money on your desires before your necessary expenses and preferred expenses are covered.
- Get Triton Cash! You can deposit money into your Triton Cash account for you to use at over 40 locations on and off campus. This is also a great way for parents to help their students learn to manage their money.
For more info on Triton Cash, visit: http://tritoncash.ucsd.edu/
- Do you really need a credit card? Do you need a way of covering your emergency expenses (when you have budgeted properly but still have necessary expenses that must be covered)? If you can eat it, drink it, wear it, or play music or games on it then it's not an emergency. Most students are able to have their emergency expenses covered in other ways. We would recommend that most students do not have credit cards because of the potential for financial difficulties. Many students start purchasing on credit and are unable to pay their bills, leading to financial hardship that can affect them later in life.
- Can you pay off the balance at the end of the month? Students often run into financial difficulty by looking at credit cards as free money - it's not. Credit companies only offer their cards because they want to make money and they make money by charging interest on expenses you cannot pay off at the end of the month. You must pay off your bill at the end of the month to not incur credit charges.
- Does your card have the lowest interest rate possible? Research your credit card options if you choose to have one. There are many companies offering credit and the ones with the lowest rates can save you a lot of money in the long run.
- Don't be fooled by teaser rates. Many card companies offer cards with low introductory rates that then balloon months down the line. Look for cards with low fixed rates.
Students who run into real financial trouble are those who don't ask for help early.