Between expensive textbooks and costly tuition and even late night study snacks, college can be a seriously expensive time for students! So, how do you stay afloat during these times? It just takes a little planning. Just like any other subject in school, students can study to improve their financial skills. One of the most important tools in your toolbox is a good old fashioned budget.
First, who is paying for college? Are you footing the bill yourself, or do you have help from your family? While many people feel reserved when talking about money, it's important for you to have a clear picture of your finances. Take a little time to meet with your parents, guardians, partner, or any other contributors to your college experience. This allows everyone to go over expectations, so you can budget more effectively for the upcoming semester and beyond. This is also an excellent time to work through your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines your eligibility for financial aid.
Even before you set up your dorm room, there are many expenses to consider!
- College tuition is one of the biggest investments in a student's life, but don't forget about related expenses: textbooks, school supplies, and more.
- Room and board is another huge piece of your budget. Will you pay an up-front sum to the residence hall, or will you pay a monthly fee to rent an apartment?
- Transportation will vary from campus to campus. Do you have a car, or will you opt for public transportation? Is campus pedestrian-friendly? Find out about the lay of the land to get a better idea of your needs.
Once you've established yourself on campus, you'll have other expenses to juggle! Really think about your lifestyle, including your wants and needs, to assess how much you may need for the following categories:
- A clothing budget isn't just for vanity. College students need suitable attire for interviews, internships, and jobs - along with an everyday wardrobe.
- Food costs can really add up in a week. Will you get a campus meal plan, or are you a whiz in the kitchen?
- Plus, don't forget to add in some discretionary spending if possible. This includes everything from entertainment to travel to events.
Create Your Budget
Basic budgeting is easy: Make sure your income is greater than your expenses. But, this is often easier said than done. Create a budget based on all of the financial help that you receive - from jobs to parental assistance to financial aid. Then, tally up your potential expenses and subtract that number from your net income. If you find yourself coming up a little short, think about cutting back on non-essential items like clothing and entertainment. Additionally, you can set up budgeting apps or banking tools to track your money flow automatically. Then, adjust your budget as necessary. If you need a little extra help here and there, don’t forget about personal loan services from CashMax!