Going to college is a big adjustment. In addition to dealing with new classes, new people, and maybe even a new place to live, you also have to start managing your own finances. For many students, this can be a tough transition.
After all, when you’re living on your own for the first time, it’s easy to get caught up in the “I deserve this” mentality and overspend. But trust us, we know how important it is to stick to a budget in college. That’s why we’ve put together a few of our top tips.
Make a budget
The first step to saving money in college is creating a budget for yourself. This doesn’t have to be an overly complicated process – in fact, the simpler, the better. Start by estimating your monthly income from all sources (including grants, scholarships, student loans, parents/guardians, and part-time jobs) and then list out all of your necessary expenses (e.g. tuition, room and board, food, transportation).
Once you have an idea of what you need to spend each month, you can start looking for ways to cut costs. For example, maybe you can find a cheaper apartment off campus or cook more meals at home instead of eating out.
Track your spending
Once you have a budget in place, it’s important to track your spending so that you can stay within your limits. There are lots of ways to do this, but one of the simplest is by using a spreadsheet or budgeting app like Mint or YNAB (You Need A Budget).
Every time you make a purchase – no matter how small – add it to your tracking system so that you always know where your money is going. This will help you stay mindful of your spending and make adjustments to your budget as needed.
Find ways to save
Saving money in college doesn’t have to be difficult – there are lots of little ways that you can cut costs without completely changing your lifestyle. For example:
- Bring a packed lunch from home instead of buying it every day. If you know you’re going to be out all day, spend a few extra minutes preparing a lunchtime meal to take with you. Whilst it may require a little extra effort, it’s a surefire way to save you money on always eating out.
- Take advantage of student discounts whenever possible. Eating out, going shopping and even travelling can all be made cheaper with a student ID. Be sure to do a little research to find out which of your favourite brands offer student discounts and you’ll be able to save money every time you spend.
- Buy used textbooks instead of new ones. Depending on the nature of your course, you’ll likely need to invest in lots of different textbooks during your time at college. Take advantage of second-hand book stores, or find online forums where fellow students will often be selling the textbooks they no longer need.
No matter how small they may seem, these little changes can really add up over time and leave you with more money in your pocket at the end of each month.
Stay savvy with your spending
College is expensive as it is, but living beyond your means will only plunge you further into financial trouble after graduation. By following these simple tips and tricks – like creating a monthly budget and tracking your spending – you can easily save money while still enjoying all that college has to offer.