Being Cognizant: Budgeting

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The first post in a series about the ways I work towards being cognizant through decisions that make me more mentally engaged with various facets of my day-to-day life.

Cognizance (noun): Awareness, realization, notice, knowledge, perception.


In recent months, I have taken on the task of budgeting all of my expenses along with my income on a monthly basis. A budget (noun) is “an estimate, often itemized, of expected income and expense for a given period in the future.” So, to budget (verb) is to plan for certain amounts of money to be earned and spent, and then keep track of what is actually earned and spent (at least that’s how I have defined my budgeting experience).

I started my budgeting adventure with an… idealistic… mindset of how much money I thought I would be spending on things such as groceries, school supplies, gas for my car, dining out, etc. However, as some guides on how to get started with a budget might tell you, your expenses might not be so simple to predict. As a student who lives away from home but receives financial support from parents, my budgets are not often too scary to approach because I am secure in knowing that if my job fell through or I had to drop a lot of money on one big item and it set me back for a month, I would not be without help. However, budgeting helps me set realistic goals that align with my desires to save money, live comfortably and independently (to some extent), and to be aware of my spending and do some reflection on how I use my money.

For others that do not have the financial support of parents or other folks, budgeting can be really useful for setting goals to alleviate the stresses of being financially “strapped” (i.e., not having a lot of extra funds once basics are paid off). Creating a budget can help you visualize what money you have coming in, what you need to spend money on, and what you want to spend money on (on a weekly, monthly, yearly basis). Being able to visualize where your money goes can lead to greater monthly savings, more effective allocation of funds (such as phone bills and groceries), and opportunities to treat yo’ self!

An example of treating oneself upon realizing that

If you haven’t done so already, take some time to research how to set up a simple budget, and start collecting your receipts! Alternatively, you may want to try tracking your spending by writing down your expenses, keeping an ongoing record on your phone, or using a mobile app – such as Mint – that can break down your expenses as they come out of your bank account.

Take control of your life in this capitalist world – make a budget!
(Or let me know if you have another idea.)

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