Budgeting 101: College Edition
Being a broke college student obviously isn’t the most ideal situation when you’re trying to balance being a student, having a social life and even save for life after college. Whether you’re a struggling college student, or simply trying make the best financial choices for yourself while in school, there are plenty of ways to be financially smart while still enjoying your college experience. Here are some simple ways college students can learn to cut everyday costs:
There are many ways to go about acquiring textbooks for classes. Why buy textbooks when you can rent them from the bookstore? Another money-saving option is to share books. If a friend or roommate happens to be taking the same class, split the cost of the textbook and cut the cost that way. If you really want to buy a textbook, by all means do it, just buy used in order to lower the cost for yourself.
This might be one of the most important expenses in college living that plays a role in your budget. Research the price of living on-campus in dorms vs. in off campus apartments, and take into consideration the cost of living for your school’s location. Depending on where you go to school, it may or may not be cheaper to live off campus in an apartment or in a rented house with roommates.
If you live off campus it is most likely cheaper and more cost effective to have one or more roommates. This helps you save money on rent, utilities, groceries, etc. by splitting costs and sharing essential household items. Create an agreement which shows what each roommate will pay for various items including rent, utilities, internet, food, entertainment and more. You will also want to discuss what happens if one of the roommates leaves before the lease is complete.
Most campuses utilize a bus system which can be a lot cheaper than maintaining a car on campus. There are even scooters parked around campus as another means of transportation. Both of these options can save you from expensive campus parking passes than can range up to several hundred dollars a year.
If you have roommates, splitting the cost of groceries can save a lot money each month. If you eat out, it is important to take advantage of the many student discounts that are offered around campus and even at local restaurants. If you have a meal plan at one of the dining halls, utilize those plans and get the most bang for your buck.
We can’t forget to throw in how to budget for having fun with your friends. Set aside a limit you can spend when going out to movies, attending sporting events, shopping, etc. so you don’t go above your budget for the month. Try taking just one “emergency” credit card so you aren’t tempted to overspend while you’re out having fun.
STICK TO A BUDGET!
We’ve saved the best piece of advice for last – stick to the budget you created. This is the biggest challenge anyone, including college students, will face. It is easy to create a budget, but if you don’t stick to it, then all that work was in vain. One rule to take with you for the rest of your life…never spend more money than you make!
Although college can be very expensive, it is good to know that there are ways to cut back on your spending and still have a great college experience. College is said to be “the best years of your life,” so enjoy those moments and make memories, but also be conscious and make sure you know where and how your money is being spent.