Do Personal Finance Yourself.

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Set a Budget

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With a clearer picture of the costs that you may incur, build a budget that balances your total expenses against the amount of cash you have available to you each month.

What Are You Starting With?

You can only budget what's coming in to you as cash each month. The source(s), timing and size of that cash inflow are crucial factors for building your budget.

Main Sources of Cash

Job Income

A job or paid internship provides recurring cash with the freedom to use on whatever you want.

Subsidies

Parents or loans may subsidize costs during school, by either giving you money to manage or paying costs directly.

Savings

If you're in school or in a career transition, you might rely on savings paid out to yourself each month.

How Reliable is Your Cash Inflow?

Size of Paycheck

Working part-time or in a Gig economy job can cause your paycheck to vary in size, so use a short-term savings account as buffer.

Interval of Inflow

A quarterly stipend from your parents or bi-weekly paycheck requires a savings fund to absorb cash shortfalls and capture surplus.

Constraints on Fund Usage

Money from subsidies could have strings attached, meaning that you may need a job or savings to cover discretionary spending.

Allocating the Pie

The total cash coming in each month becomes your "pie" that you can use to spread across monthly expenses and financial goals, or earmark for specific purposes, like saving for a new laptop.

Planning for Every-Month Expenses

Costs of Living

50% of your budget should go toward  housing bills, meals, commuting, health insurance and your cell phone plan.

Discretionary Spend

Up to 30% of your budget can go to "wants," but it's always best to ensure you've first accounted for costs of living.

Financial Goals

Avoid a "see what's left" approach by deliberately contributing to savings or debt payments with 20% of your budget. 

How to Cover Big Expenses

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Rollover Categories

For known, infrequent expenses, such as new clothes, use a rollover bucket to have unused funds "roll" into the next month. 

The Slush Fund

If your infrequent expenses vary so much in nature, it's easiest to just allot part of your discretionary bucket to "infrequent stuff."

Short-Term Savings

For one-time expenses, like tuition, it's helpful to have a totally separate fund that can also absorb shocks, like a tax payment.