“I ran out of the money the day I got it!” – the phrase almost every student has said at some time in college life.

According to the National Student Money Survey 2020, 81% of students worry about the lack of money. Another 71% regret their own low level of financial literacy. 

How to save money at university? Everything is quite simple: you need to learn how to correctly plan your student budget. This will allow you to cover all the compulsory expenses and avoid saving on extra expenses.

If you don’t have an unlimited golden credit card, budgeting skills are a must to survive your college years.

Why do you need budgeting for university life? 

Budgeting for students may seem rather boring. Yet, there are many benefits to checking your spending. Imagine that your bank account is a leaking bucket. Periodically, the tap opens to fill it – this is your income. 

But your bucket is full of holes through which water – your money – flows. The water level will constantly change, but as long as there is enough water in the bucket, there are no problems.

Yet, a problem will arise if the water level gets too low. You will need to start closing those bucket holes – your spending habits. This is what budgeting is all about.

Shortly, it helps maintain a constant water level so you can keep spending money on what you really want.

A well-planned budget will greatly help your student life. Whether you want to save money for a big goal like getting your first car or summer vacation. Even if you just want to stop borrowing money at the end of the month. Budgeting is a must in all cases.

Student budgeting plan:

The basic mechanism for making a student budget is quite simple. First, you need to calculate the amount of your income and the number of expenses.  And then – understand their balance. 

This will allow you to move and rethink your expenses. After that, you will be able to pay all the necessary expenses and save significant amounts at the same time.

1) Define your income

First, calculate what your total monthly income is. Typically, students’ income consists of the following points:

  • money from parents;
  • scholarship or grant payments;
  • money from a full-time or part-time job;
  • other savings.

Don’t add extra money incomes like birthday presents or money from grandma on the day of your annual visit. That money does not take part in a monthly income, because you don’t get this income monthly. You need to define a certain stable amount.

Your job may be freelance and you don’t know for sure how much money you will earn at the end of the month. Then set the smallest amount for your monthly budget – a sum of money you are 100% sure you will earn. Additional income can automatically go into the savings for the rainy day.

2) Define your expenses

Then you need to calculate how much you need to spend per month. At the same time, expenses can be mandatory and optional:

Mandatory expenses:

  • rent;
  • bills (gas, electricity, water, insurance, mobile communications, internet, etc.);
  • food (groceries or pre-made food);
  • transportation services (travel tickets or car maintenance costs);
  • textbooks and other materials necessary for studying.

Optional expenses:

  • visiting cinemas, clubs, parties, etc.;
  • eating out;
  • money for hobbies;
  • fitness club;
  • clothes and shoes;
  • visiting a hairdresser, beauty salon, etc.;
  • paying for digital services like Spotify or Amazon Prime;
  • travel expenses (air tickets, hotels, transport, sightseeing tickets, etc.).

3) Calculate your weekly budget

After setting your income and expenses, you can calculate your weekly budget. For this:

  • deduct the amount of mandatory monthly expenses from the total income;
  • divide the result by the number of weeks in a month.

The amount you receive is your weekly budget. This money you can use as you want – you are already able to pay for your mandatory expenses. 

That is a simple mechanism, but what if you are not satisfied with the amount of money you get for a week? Then you have to smartly cut your additional expenses and save money for your needs.

Ways to save money as a student:-

Rethink your housing

You always have to choose a smarter option, not a cheaper one. Define for yourself – how much space do you really need? Is paying more for the whole apartment for yourself worth it? Or you can peacefully live with roommates? Is on-campus rent cheaper than off-campus?

Set for yourself an optimal housing option. You will be shocked by the amount of free money you will get from cutting your renting expenses.

Meal planning

It may sound like a boring grown-up job, but it is actually worth it. When you have a strict food plan for a week, you will be free from spontaneous McDonald’s purchases. You can even include take out meals, and eating out, but not every evening. It is okay to avoid your plan once in a while, but getting something every evening really adds up to your budget. Plus, if you live with roommates – ask them to divide grocery costs, especially if you buy in bulk.

Change your transport habits

Do you really need to get everywhere by car? Sometimes a bike will do as great, especially if the city you live in is small. Plus, don’t be afraid to ask for gas money if you drive your classmates somewhere.

E-books are your best friends

Ask your university library for access to ebook collections. You will be surprised how many textbooks are available that way. Also, you can share the costs with your classmates and use the same book taking turns.

Invest in your time

The wisest thing to do is to calculate how much is your time worth. If you can earn $40 in 4 hours, but spend them on useless assignments instead – learn how to delegate. Plenty of services like thebestessays will gladly help you with your coursework. And let you add up to your budget instead.