Budget Tips for New College Students

Going to college could be your first experience of having to budget. If you’re new to budgeting, you may feel like you don’t know where to start, but it’s important to make sure you can stretch your money to the end of each period. Learning to manage your money is also an important life skill.

Budget Tips for New College Students
Budget Tips for New College Students

the right mindset

The thought of budgeting may evoke thoughts of deprivation, but that’s not what understanding where your money is going is all about. Think of it as spending smart, avoiding waste, and having more to spend on the things that matter to you.

How to pay tuition

If you’re like many people, you’re paying for college through a combination of loans, savings, and possibly some scholarships or grants. You may be planning to supplement this with a part-time job.

If you haven’t thought about this yet, your first step might be to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA. This will give you an idea of ​​the need-based federal aid you are eligible for.

If that’s not enough, you can also get student loans from private lenders and pay after graduation. Adding up what you will have from all of these sources can give you an idea of ​​how much you will have to spend on a monthly basis.

What are your expenses?

Start with a basic list of expenses, including housing, utilities, and transportation. This does not mean that you will not have a budget for entertainment, but finding out will come a little later.

Make sure you don’t skip textbooks, which can take a big chunk out of your budget. Once you’ve met the necessities and know how much you need at a minimum to get by, you can think about how much you’d like for discretionary items like streaming services and take-out food.

If your expenses exceed the amount you figured you would have each month, you may need to look crop or find a way to get more money, like increasing your hours at your job.

How are you doing overall?

If you’re not in school yet, a lot of this is going to be guesswork, and that’s okay. You will probably need to adjust your plan once school starts and you have a better idea of ​​your spending. There are apps out there that can track your spending and give you an idea of ​​where your money is going.

If you’ve just moved into an apartment or college dorm, you’ve probably had some one-time expenses, so you don’t need to include them, although you should factor in other one-time costs, like haircuts.

After a couple of months, you can review your spending and see if you need to adjust. Food and entertainment are often the first places people can easily cut back, but that doesn’t mean giving up everything that’s fun.

Most people find things in these categories that they don’t realize they’re spending so much on and won’t miss much of when they’re gone. Keep tweaking, and in a few months, you’ll be a budgeting expert.

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