Everyone says college should be the time of your life! You have more freedom from your parents, but with freedom also comes responsibility. The biggest issue for college students being budgeting.
A national survey showed that 70% of students report having significant stress related to their financial situation. 32 % of those students say they neglect their studies from time to time so they can earn money to pay off debts!
Many college students have never set up a personal budget and don’t even know how to start one! The good news is that there are tons of budget tips and tricks to help you get your finances in check.
We have gathered a few of our favorite tips for college students who are sick of living the microwaved ramen lifestyle. Keep reading to learn how you can take control of your budget right now!
1. Better Budget Balancing
Be realistic and honest with yourself when you are making your budget. Don’t overestimate your income because you want to make that much money.
Likewise, don’t underestimate your expenses like food and amenities. If you go out and have a couple of drinks every Friday, include that in your expenses. You may find that you have room in your budget for those things once you balance income and expenses.
Keep in mind that you will need to differentiate between needs and wants when you are balancing your budget. The things you need to live and thrive always have priority over the things you want for pleasure.
2. Pay Cash for the Little Stuff
Once you know how much you can spend each day on food and other little items, pull out your daily allowance in cash. Any time you go to buy something small like a snack or a magazine, pay for it in cash!
Paying for little incidentals in cash does two things:
First, it makes you realize how much money you are spending on something. Handing over $60 in cash hurts a bit more than paying $60 with a plastic card. Paying in cash helps you decide if what you are buying is worth spending that cash on.
Second, paying in cash helps you stick to your budget. If you have spent the money in your wallet for the day, then you don’t spend any more money that day! Need a bit more scratch for the weekend, try to save some of your cash from the weekday allowance.
3. Add an “Emergency” Category to Your Budget
It happens all the time. You are doing great, sticking to your budget. And then your car breaks down and the shop wants a couple hundred dollars to get it working again.
Life loves to throw you curveballs from time to time. Rolling with those punches is much easier if you have an emergency fund to dip into when you need it.
A good rule of thumb is to take 5% or 10% of your total income and dump that into a separate account that you only touch in emergency situations. No, spring break does not count as an emergency!
Don’t be that college kid who calls mommy to beg for cash. Bake those emergency expenses into your budget!
4. Review Your Budget and Adjust When Needed
Every couple of months (or more often if you are new to starting a budget plan) you should take a fresh look at your budget and see if there are any areas that need tweaking. Update your budget to reflect any bill amount changes, pay increases, or reallocate money when needed.
When refiguring the income section of your budget, round down. Make sure to add your income from any jobs, student loans, grants, or education savings plans to your income section.
As for expenses, after you add everything you pay on a monthly basis, round up! Doing this in conjunction with rounding down on your income helps make sure you have a little wiggle room in your budget for those little oops moments in life.
Remember that your budget should change as often as your life does. Don’t get so rigid with your budget that you leave no room for yourself to grow!
5. Tips for College Students Who Have Problems with Organization
Beyond helping with your budget, upping your organization skills will help you through your whole life!
Get an accordion file or a filing cabinet to sort your bills and keep them for use later. If you ever need to dispute a bill, you will be able to find the original bill right away! You can also get a more accurate estimate of your utility bill averages.
Also, keep your receipts for a couple of months. Then you can go back and analyze where you spend your money and translate that into your budget.
Take Time to Smell the Roses
These are only a few helpful tips for college students who are trying to be money savvy. If you are creative, you can save yourself a ton of money on the little everyday things.
We know how intimidating looming student loan debts are. Looking at your loan statement is enough to turn your stomach into knots!
One of the most important things you can do right now is to enjoy your college years. Don’t let college debt stress you to the point of physical and mental illness! Take a few moments to enjoy being a college student and get involved in campus life.
The last thing you want to do is owe a ton of money for a few years of your life that you didn’t even enjoy!
We hope you loved reading this article and that it helped you get some ideas about how to save money while you are in college. If you have more tips to share with other broke college students, please leave a comment below!