Being a college student is costly. College tuition fees increase annually, and with the inflation rate rising inevitably, it’s hard to live as a university student. There are many expenditures to take into account—you need to pay for room and board, transportation, food, clothing, and books, to name some.
With budgeting practices and tips, students can manage and control their independent lives away from their families. Especially those who have moved out of their homes, they now carry the burden of budgeting their monthly income and resources.
Fret not, let the following practical guidelines help you organize your budget so you can survive college and have enough money to live happily:
- Record Your Budget And Expenses
The primary thing to do when budgeting your money as a college student is to prepare a record. A financial worksheet is helpful so you can list down your budget and all the expenses you incur in a weekly or monthly system. You need to list all the anticipated costs you have to generate or set aside money for it.
You should know how much tuition and academic fees cost well before the first day of school. Further, you should also be familiar with the costs of affordable housing in and around your campus, so check out this site: https://www.sunrisevillageapts.com/, to submit an inquiry. Other necessary expenses like food, commute, and many others should also be listed down. It’d help if you could set how much money goes for each expense.
If you’re the type of person who is super organized, you can list down your expenses, even something as minor as buying a bottle of water. These expenses go right into the worksheet, and you’ll have a thorough flow of where your money went.
- Live With A Roommate
If living or staying at home with your family is no longer an option, the second practical thing to do is find an affordable room-and-board living option. Choosing to stay with a roommate will allow you to pay just half of the original rent. While there are many housing options for college students, you need to consider several variables before you decide to move.
For example, you must weigh whether living on-campus is relatively more practical than living off-campus. And when you choose the latter, you must also consider the location and accessibility. Aside from the price, you have to ensure the neighborhood is safe and that the amenities are near and accessible. Ultimately, whatever living option you decide to go for, having a roommate will allow you to split the rent in half.
- Have A Part-Time Job
An essential part of college life is to have fun. You should enjoy being on your own for the first time, and the social aspects of college are just as important as your classes. However, if time permits and you can manage everything within your responsibilities, landing a part-time job will enable you to achieve more financial freedom. Although you might be getting financial provision in the form of a fund set up by your parents or a scholarship, having extra cash will go a long way. Manage your budget more effectively by taking on a part-time job.
It’s not uncommon for college jobs to have flexible schedules, so if you can, find a job that can fit into your schedule without overextending yourself. Know your limits and find a job that can suit your routine and academic obligations.
- Make Use Of Discounts And Coupons
You might not think using coupons is that effective until you use them and realize the difference. It’s certainly wise to pay a discounted rate rather than paying the total price. Fortunately, many companies are keen on offering coupons and discounts to students as a marketing strategy. Thus, you should never say no to bargains when you’re shopping at your favorite retailers. You can subscribe to newsletters in which you’ll be emailed with promo codes and get notified if your favorite stores have sales and offer products at discounted rates.
Also, be more practical by knowing the price range of a product and comparing them in different retail stores, which could result in substantial savings over time. Hunting for deals is another excellent way to make regular savings over time, especially when you make it an integral part of your buying routine.
- Establish When You “Need” or “Want” Something
Although it may seem like a simple distinction, you’d be surprised with how much your wants and needs influence your purchasing decisions. Sometimes both of these things only have a thin line in between. It’s so easy to say that something you only want is the most vital thing ever.
However, you need to stay in control of your spending power and assess the situation. Prioritize needs and only go for the things you want if you already can afford them later. In the long run, you’ll have more flexibility because you are only buying what you need.
- Establish Communal Funds With Your Roommate
Roommates are almost a necessity in college, so if you’re planning on doing college alone, you might end up paying a lot more than you should. Although living with roommates presents some challenges, they also provide significant savings on housing. Housing costs are not the only expense that you can save on when you have a roommate. Your utility bills will also be split in half. It goes the same way for house expenses.
Although optional, you can also gather some funds together for the month so you can buy groceries and prepare home-cooked meals together. By doing so, you can share the costs of food and house bills as a team. Even though managing roommates’ personalities can be challenging, especially if money is involved, establishing communal expenses makes sense and saves money for both parties.
- Utilize Financial Apps
Apps for just about everything are available these days, which is why many personal finance apps exist that’d help you monitor your spending and keep a tight budget. Whatever app works well for you, make use of it. It’ll make your tracking expenses more manageable and more convenient than recording everything manually, for example. Also, since you can download it on your mobile, you can note it down as soon as you incur the expense. Real-time recording is made possible with these financial apps.
- Set Aside Money For Fun
You’re sure to incur expenses when it comes to food, lodging, gas, or public transport, among others. When you’ve set aside enough money for these necessities, go over the extra funds and check whether they can sustain your wants like clothes, dining out, watching movies, and your recreational activities.
Establish a monthly budget for discretionary expenses. This way, you won’t feel like you’re living too tight, which will stress you out even more. If you set aside extra money, you’ll have the liberty to enjoy spending them later on; after all, your necessities have been taken care of.
- Eat Home-Cooked Meals
Eating out less often each month can help you save a great deal of money. You might be surprised with this, but cooking is a more budget-friendly option than dining out consistently. Containers can be used for storing leftovers after large meals are cooked. Out of these large meals, you could reheat leftovers to take to school so you could save money.
There are many ways to cook delicious meals in large batches, and you can just store them in the fridge to last a few days or even a week. When it’s time to eat, you can simply reheat them in the microwave, and your meal is ready.
- Buy Second-Hand Textbooks
One of the largest financial hits you’ll have to take as a college student is buying your textbooks. Brand-new textbooks often cost an arm and a leg for students. While your professors may require you to buy a brand-new textbook, renting or buying used textbooks will usually reduce costs. You can spend hundreds or even thousands per semester on textbooks, but renting textbooks online or using discount codes allows you to save money on other expenses.
Students are also advised to try to resell their textbooks every semester to earn some money back. Not only is this practical, but it’s also environment friendly. A lot of other students need to have books like yours at a cheaper cost. Make use of online tools and websites that offer secondhand textbooks. They usually offer discounts and subscription packages to college students.
- Maximize Free Campus Amenities
Many colleges offer free services, including clinics, career counseling, library or research resources, and campus recreation. As an enrolled student, you must make use of these perks. When you have these services provided for free by your college, you won’t have to pay for them or go out of campus just to gain access to these services.
- Don’t Waste On Food
One obvious problem worldwide is food waste, so try not to add more to this issue. It’s best not to overbuy food items, especially perishable ones that may spoil before eating them. You should select and buy only those that you need or are planning to eat immediately. The key to avoiding food waste is to choose items with longer shelf lives and fresh ingredients. Following this tip will help save you money and do your part in saving the environment too.
- Avoid Borrowing Money From Others
If you want to maintain stable savings, you should live below your means and avoid borrowing money from anyone. The debt keeps rising once you become accustomed to borrowing. Additionally, borrowing money makes it difficult to save up. You’ll develop a habit of needless spending of funds that aren’t even yours. Rather than borrowing money from someone during times of need, save more and use that money instead.
- Attend Free Student Events
There are a lot of free events offered by colleges for their students, such as art competitions, art exhibitions, football matches, open mic sessions, and many others. Free events like these allow you not only to have fun but to meet new people and expand your network at the same time. This is a definite win-win for you, so take advantage of what your college has to offer.
- Maximize Cash Back Benefits
First-time budget managers should proceed with caution when dealing with credit cards. You should only obtain a credit card if you feel comfortable managing your spending well enough to do so. Also, select a company that offers cash-back incentives or terms that can be useful for you.
Check out the different offerings of banks and financial card companies, as they usually provide different promotions and strategies that are eventually beneficial for you as an amateur earner.
- Set Aside Emergency Funds
You may have to spend a few extra dollars during some months. For example, holiday seasons usually require a lot of cash to spend on parties, events, and gifts. Set aside funds little by little every month to sustain you in such times.
You should set aside a certain amount of your income every month and deposit it into an account. Try your best not to spend any of it before any kind of emergency warrants the spending.
- Buy In Bulk To Save More
You get more value for each purchase when you buy in bulk. You might’ve tried scanning and comparing prices in grocery stores and realized that more products sold in bulk tend to be cheaper than individual items. One smart move is to buy groceries with friends and buy family packs. You can save a lot and segregate all the products later on.
- Prioritize Paying Debts With High Interest
It’s wise to start paying off your debt and loans while in school, instead of waiting until you graduate. Student loans sometimes incur high interest, so you best start clearing them once and for all.
Moreover, monthly debt payments with high interest rates, such as credit card debt, can become quite burdensome. As you pay off the loans, the interest rate goes down, and you won’t have to incur expenses for interest anymore.
Sticking to your budget is your priority, now that you’ve completed the hard work of enrolling in college. When you stick to your budget as you pursue your passions, you’ll have a better chance of paying off your debt and graduating well beyond the green with positive financial habits that can help you achieve your long-term goals.
Aside from ensuring that your monthly bills are taken care of, it’s best to set aside a portion of your funds for emergencies and to enjoy later on. Saving money now while it’s early will allow you to have financial freedom sooner in your life too.