By Lea Yenawine, Guest Writer

Saving money is a challenge, especially when many college students are only making minimum wage. Many of us are expected to pitch in for school and have outstanding costs to cover such as rent, phone bills, groceries, etc. This is why summer vacation is the perfect opportunity to make some cash before the next semester.

Not only are these warm months good for building up your bank accounts, but they also allow students to build their resumes. Gaining professional work experience is crucial to becoming a competitive applicant while seeking jobs after college.

The practice of saving money and budgeting is an important task.

The term “budget” has a negative connotation, so I like to think of it as a proactive spending plan. Creating a budget, or a spending plan, was a daunting task for me, but it is very important in order to be in control of the money I am making. Having a clear idea of how much money I have in the bank and how much I am comfortable spending has proven to be the easiest way for me to save.

A few years ago, I watched my parents pull themselves out of debt. They used a program called You Need A Budget (YNAB). It is free for college students for 1 year and you can open as many budgets as you need under one account. After the first year, it costs $84 per year.

My mom convinced me to create a spending plan last year. Since then, I have become more confident about my financial situation. The software is safely connected to my bank account and automatically updates when I spend, earn, or transfer money. YNAB has helped me to gain control of my money. Plus, it is very user-friendly.

When you set up an account, you can create custom categories like clothing, tuition, groceries, dates, and so on. Each month, you put money in the categories in a way that works for you.

We have all had that moment when you are standing in the store aisle trying to decide whether or not the thing on the shelf is worth spending money on. YNAB helps with this and eliminates the guessing game you play when deciding whether or not you have enough money to buy what you want. The app helps you understand exactly how much money you are working with. One of the best ways to be successful using YNAB is that you “give every dollar a job.”  This means that you assign all of your money to a category. This is an excellent way to stay on top of your goals for dividing your paycheck.

While it is productive to set money in each category at the beginning of the month, it doesn’t always go as planned. YNAB makes it simple to be flexible. Maybe you weren’t planning to go to the movies, but your friend called you at the last minute. The spending plan is not supposed to be a finalized document where everything perfectly adds up. YNAB makes it easy to move money to and from categories so that you always have a realistic spending plan for the entire month.

Another tip for saving to create a list of all of the types of things you spend money on each month. Break down list for necessity and wants, like paying the rent, and going out to eat. Tracking your spending allows you to see the big picture and limiting spending money on wants makes saving easier.

YNAB is accessible on several different platforms including your phone or computer. It only takes a few minutes to set up and you can make changes whenever you need to. When you are first getting started, reading about the YNAB “rules” and watching their tutorial videos will help guide you in making a successful budget. To learn more, go to


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