The Beacon Bolt is a publication of the student body of Northwest Christian University. Did you know 68% of Americans don’t budget each month? You could be a part of that percentage, just as I was not long ago. I was forced into making a budget when I got engaged and weddings as we all know, are expensive. It has been very difficult though, and I can’t say I’ve stayed on track as much as I’d planned and hoped. After researching I have found a few tips for budgeting, paying off debt and saving that could definitely help you create a more financially stable future.

Americans spend 40% of their food budget on eating out and 34% of Americans’ spending goes toward housing costs; thus, statistically you are left with only about 25% to pay everything else and save. Eating out can become an unconscious habit and leads to accumulating large amounts of money by the end of each month or year. Awareness of such “habit” spending is essential in creating a balanced budget. Technology is everywhere and we constantly carry our phones and computers, so why not put it to use?

EveryDollar is a website and application created by financial expert Dave Ramsey, which allows users to create budgets with customizable categories and items. Users can track expenses and incomes for free by using their ebanking accounts to manually enter exact information, or they can pay $8.95 a month (or $99/year) to have their accounts connected and be able to drag and drop transactions into separate categories. The second feature is obviously awesome and more time-efficient, but is unnecessary.

EveryDollar is basically an online version of Dave Ramsey’s envelope system, but is more user friendly for people who prefer using debit cards. The envelope system is a zero-based budget where you create envelopes for different categories and then add cash to each of those according to your budget. Once the cash in that envelope is gone, you can’t spend any more on that category, thus helping people who slide their debit and credit cards a little too frequently. Deciding to use such a budgeting system is great, but when you first start it can be extremely overwhelming. One great resource for beginning the process is Dave Ramsey’s free, “Guide to Budgeting” PDF. Creating a zero-based budget can be difficult, but if you can persevere, your future will be bright.

As students we are often the “brokest” we will ever be, but I hope that creating a budget using the resources listed above will help you to become financially independent and responsible. Creating a stable financial foundation will put you on the path to success in wherever the Lord takes you after graduation!

Dave Ramsey’s Website: http://www.daveramsey.com/home/