Learning how to budget is an essential skill in all stages of life, but you may not learn how in school.
When you get to college, you’re pretty much on your own to figure out managing your finances. It’s a big reason why 70% of college students are stressed about money.
It’s bad enough that you’re likely to have to take out student loans and you’re bombarded with credit card offers targeted to students. You could be stuck in debt before you even graduate.
As a college student, learning to budget is imperative. It will set you up for success throughout your entire life far more than that underwater basket weaving elective you’re forced to take.
Are you ready to learn the top budgeting tips for college students?
Let’s get started!
What’s Your Income?
As a college student, your income may come from various places. You may have money saved up, money from your family, or take part in a work-study program. Take a look at how much you have available to spend each semester and tally up those numbers.
You don’t want to count things that will create debt as income, such as credit card availability and student loans.
These are financial tools, but you’re going to pay for them for years after you graduate. You’ll want to minimize your use of them as much as possible.
List out Your Expenses
During each semester, you’re going to have certain unavoidable expenses. The most obvious ones are tuition, books, housing, and food.
You’re also going to want to have a social life on top of that. Even though there are a lot of cheap bars for college students, you want to make sure that you have a budget set aside for going out that doesn’t take away from your necessary expenses.
Do you want to have a car on campus? You’ll also have to consider parking fees, fuel, insurance, and maintenance. If you’ve been in school for a semester or two, take a look at your past expenses as a guide.
You also want to have a contingency budget for unexpected things. You never know when an emergency expense is going to hit.
Look for Ways to Save Money
You need to balance your books without going into debt as much as possible. There are two ways to do that: cut expenses and increase your income.
One question to ask yourself is if you really need to buy those expensive textbooks. Sometimes they cost more than the class itself. Plus, there’s a good chance you’re never going to look at those books again after the class is completed.
You can cut your costs by renting cheap textbooks instead of buying them. That can save you a lot of money each semester.
Look at your entire budget and cut where you can without sacrificing your quality of life. You may be able to improve your financial situation by not having a car, making your own food instead of ordering pizza, or cutting back on alcohol.
Bring in More Money
When you’re in college, you want to focus on your studies and may decide that a part-time job isn’t for you. That’s fine, but you shouldn’t overlook ways to make money and lower your need for student loans.
Grants and Scholarships
There are a ton of grants and scholarships available to undergrad students, even if you weren’t the star of your football team.
Grants and scholarships are forms of free money that you can use to pay tuition and other college-related expenses.
You have to research them and apply, but it’s time well spent when you consider the potential to pay for college without loans. Start by asking your advisor if your college offers any scholarships you might qualify for.
Get Freelance Gigs
What are your plans when you graduate from college? You’re likely to get a job and enter the workforce. You’re going to be up against a lot of other candidates with various degrees and experience.
If you use the skills you learn in college to freelance, you can gain experience while getting paid. The best part is that you can do most of your work remotely and on your own schedule.
There are dozens of sites that offer contract work for positions like marketing, writing, and graphic design. Even those in IT can get remote gigs in technical support or app development.
Freelancing during school can lower your need for student loans and give you the experience to make a lot more money right out of school.
Sticking to Your Budget
Now you have your budget, but do you have the gumption to stick with it? This is the most difficult part of learning how to budget as a college student.
You’re going to have to make sacrifices some nights. You will have to make tough decisions. Believe it or not, having discipline now only sets you up for success for the rest of your life.
Getting to Know How to Budget as a College Student
Growing up and being a college student is stressful enough. You’re away from home, and you have more responsibilities than ever before.
You’re also saddled with more financial challenges than previous generations. It’s up to you to learn how to how to budget as a college student. It’s the only way you can set yourself up for a debt-free life after college.
You won’t have to put off things like buying a home or starting a family because of debt. Instead, make a choice to create a budget and stick to it. These are skills that will serve you well throughout the rest of your life.
Do you want more tips for managing your finances? Visit this blog often for more great tips.