How to budget: College Edition

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With mom and dad no longer dictating your every move, college can be fun…that is, until, you check your bank account. Spending and saving money wisely can be difficult the first time on your own. Eating out, shopping and weekend activities with friends all add up at the end of the month. But rest assured, applying these simple adjustments to your everyday lifestyle will get you on the right track to budgeting your money.

 

  1. Set a Realistic Goal

Okay, let’s be real: as a college kid, you’re probably not raking in thousands of dollars every month. Whether you work part time, full time or are utilizing scholarship funds, the pool of money you have to work with is not very deep. Write down the amount of money you receive every month and how much of it you will be spending. The more realistic, the easier it will be to stick with a budget.

 

  1. Categorize Your Expenses

Ever check your bank account at the end of the month and wonder where exactly all your money went? Not anymore. Start by breaking down your expenses into categories like food, gas, rent, utilities and school supplies. This will help you prioritize important items you will need every month. Next, set a certain limit you choose to spend on each category.

This is especially important for food. In college, it is so easy to eat out everyday or stop by the snack shop that’s open late on campus. By restricting how much you spend, you will be able to see exactly where every dime goes.

 

  1. Don’t Forget to Save Money

You’re probably thinking, “Save money? But I am a broke college student!” These next four years are going to fly by, just like high school, and whether you’re planning on continuing your education or starting your dream job, you’re probably going to need some cash to do it. Every month, aim to take out anywhere from 5-10% of your income, and save it for the future. 

 

  1. Plan for Emergencies

Murphy’s law is always on the lookout for stressed college students. Remember that anything that could possibly go wrong, will go wrong, given the perfect circumstances. Having some money set aside for life’s random mishaps is definitely a major key in budgeting. A rainy day fund could help fix that flat tire or the doctor’s visit you needed to make. 
College is learning how to cook meals without mom’s help, getting yourself to class on time, studying like crazy and figuring out how to handle money. You don’t have to be a wiz overnight, but these tips will help you cutback and save.

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