By: James Kelly, MFF Student
Recently I bought an office chair. I say I, but in reality, it was my parents. It’s nice to have someone else buying things for you, but that will not always be an option. One skill that could help you with that is budgeting. A budget is a financial plan to help you meet a goal. That goal could be to buy a chair, have more money to go out to eat, or just to spend less. There are two parts to a budget: flexible expenses and fixed expenses. A flexible expense is something that changes every month. That includes groceries, entertainment, and going out to eat. A fixed expense is something that stays the same every month, like rent, car payments, and savings.
Saving is important, but often overlooked. When you make a budget, saving should be the first thing you account for, and you should build everything else around it. Saving takes discipline, but the more you do it, the more it becomes a habit and becomes easier. You should save for goals, like a new office chair, and you should save for an emergency fund, which usually includes enough for a month or two of expenses. Some simple ways to save are by paying bills on time and avoiding fees, saving your change at the end of the day, and getting a retirement account, which can be personal or through an employer.
Of course, in order to save you must have money to save. There are two reliable ways to make money. The first is selling things, either goods or services. You could run a car wash, mow lawns, or babysit. The second is through investments. These require much less work, but probably won’t make you nearly as much money as fast. My savings account only has .01% interest. There are other kinds of bank accounts, like CDs and money markets, but these still will not pay much. You could also invest in stocks, which are riskier, but have a higher return on investment. The best way to make money is some combination of working and investing.