Budget Reset: How to Recover from Overspending

Any typical college student overspends the first couple of months at school. Between greek life dues, takeout food, going to the bars, date party outfits, textbooks, and now Halloween costumes, September and October seem to rip money right from your hands. Luckily, November and December can be a good time to recover from these expenses because these months can be much more low-key. Here are some steps and tips to help you (and myself) spend less these next two months.


  1. Look at your bank statement from September and October. Break down what you spent your money on each month. I like to break spending down into these categories: Food, Going Out, Clothes, Planned Expenses, Services, Random. Sometimes it is hard to track your spending with the use of venmo, but I usually count that in food or going out.

  2. If you had a budget for October, have you followed it so far? Did you follow it in September? If you went over, look at those bank statements and decide on what could be reduced. For me, I always overspend on food. My goal for November is to turn takeout meals into rewards. If I studied hard and did well on an exam, I will let myself get Sushi Nara. Other than that, I try to keep off-campus dining expenses for the weekends. If your problem areas with spending are somewhere else, brainstorm ways you can reduce that spending and build discipline in your weak areas!

  3. Print out November and December 2018 calendars. Write out events or times you know you will be spending more or spending less! For example, in December I will have semi-formal and Christmas Theme parties, and I have to get a birthday present for my mom. Maybe you know you will be getting a mani-pedi. Estimate costs for these events and subtract them from your monthly budget. Then you will have new parameters for day to day spending for that month. This is really important to do ahead of the month because understanding and anticipating your expenses before they come is what helps you stay within your budget. Pin the calendars somewhere you will see them often, it is very easy to be negligent of a budget when you don’t have reminders of it.

  4. If you have a job, look at how much money you made last month. I try to make the money I earn be the money I spend, that way I avoid dipping into my summer job money. If you do not have a job, consider getting one! There are lots of jobs on campus that are flexible with hours, and you can do homework at them while you aren’t helping someone.

  5. At the end of every week, open that bank app again. Look at what you spent, and see if you overspent for the week. I like to break my monthly budget down on a weekly basis, it is easier for me to manage.


Hopefully, this plan and these tips will help someone be more financially responsible for the second half of the semester. Happy spending and saving!