This Simple Budget Approach Conquered My Student Debt

Carrying significant student debt is a terrible way to start adult life. The financial burden is self-explanatory, and the psychological burden can just as easily wear you down.

(Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash)

Understand that “less” is worth more

“Less is more.”

Write down essentials, including debt payments and an emergency fund

“Budget” is basically shorthand for “how much I have to spend, can optionally choose to spend, and have to save.”

Write down nice-to-haves

Next up, you’ll write down the things that aren’t necessary, but make life a lot more enjoyable.

Write down long-term goals

Within reason, this is the place to think big.

Write down normal spending that doesn’t fit the above…then kiss it goodbye

If it’s not strictly necessary, and it doesn’t add much value to life now, and it doesn’t serve a long-term goal, it’s just not part of the budget.

Besides/beyond a minimal emergency fund, all else goes to debt

If you’re starting from square one, an emergency fund is the best use of any excess you’ve identified. Likewise, it’s the highest priority for any unexpected money you come into.

Plan a frugal celebration when you hit a big milestone

To lay out and actually follow a plan of zero spending outside essentials (emergency fund included) requires a lot of willpower for a long time.

Revisit priorities twice a year

Once a year would suffice, and is indeed more “minimal,” but I like to revisit budget priorities every six months or so. Work, family, friends, health, hobbies, and just about everything else can change greatly in much less than one year.

Monitor it all closely to keep yourself honest

Finally, it’s wise to set up hands-off financial tracking from day one, using a tool like Personal Capital.

Field notes from a (sometimes) simple life.

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