There is a common stereotype with college students, and that’s we’re all poor and eat Raman noodles for every meal. This is sometimes quite true. Often, going to college and being on our own is really the first time we’re introduced to budgeting.
Are are 8 budgeting tips for college students that you should know about before moving into your dorm room on day one.
1. Create A Budget
The first thing you always want to do is create a spending budget for yourself. Most colleges tell you straight up how much room and board costs, but that’s not the only expenses you will be faced with.
This includes any food that’s not part of your meal plan, school supplies, books, entertainment, even doing the laundry. Most colleges offer free laundry facilities but there are cases where they don’t.
Create a basic layout of your budget based on your cash flow per semester/week if you have a part-time job or doing work study.
Figure up just how much you can really spend on these items. Don’t go overboard. If you can buy a pack of one dollar pencils, don’t spring on the three dollar ones just for their brand name.
2. Track Your Spending
After you’ve built your budget it’s time to track all the spending you do on these items.
Look at all the money you typically spend in one month and see where all of your cash is going. Check all of your debit, and credit cards, bank info, everything. You will be surprised at how much you spend on things that aren’t necessary.
Tracking your spending and budgeting sets invisible guidelines for you.
3. Borrow Only What’s Required
It’s rare that you head off to college with a complete trust prepared for you. Sometimes it’s inevitable that you have to take out gross college loans.
The number of loans you take out should be in the same realm as the expected pay off of the job field you’re expecting to go into after graduation. Any loans you take out should also be for school and nothing but.
Taking out a loan so you can live an extravagant college lifestyle might seem like a great idea now, but it won’t be worth it in the end.
4. Student Discounts Are Your Friend
More often than not, many establishments around your college campus will offer discounts for students. Don’t be afraid to flash that student idea wherever you go.
We understand that college food can be really gross. They put you in a false sense of security by having amazing food during orientation and then when you actually start, the food punches you in the face.
If you must go out to a restaurant to avoid a rather tasteless cafeteria meal, there’s nothing wrong with that, but chose one that offers you a student discount. If you really need that morning coffee, student discount. This can even go further with clothing stores and hole in the wall bookstores.
You’ll be surprised about how much being a student can save you at establishments around town.
5. Always Buy Used Books
We can all agree that buying books for the school bookstore can be ridiculous. These bookstores know they have a monopoly. It’s hard to physically get books quickly when you buy online.
To avoid this extra price tag, you can rent them from the college bookstore, or get them used.
If getting them from the college bookstore is still too pricey after this, there are many online resources that you can hit up to find great deals on used books.
This is budgeting tips for college students 101.
6. Don’t Get A Gym Membership
Some colleges will actually offer you a free gym membership as part of your tuition either on campus or off. If your college doesn’t offer this service, don’t splurge and do it for yourself.
These gym memberships can get really costly after a long period of time. Instead of springing for it, you can always join college athletic clubs. Some dorm buildings have fitness programs that everyone who lives in the building can go to.
There are also special activities like Zumba, classes, and cross-fit that some colleges offer for fun. If you actively seek out these programs there will always be a method for you to get a good workout in.
7. Buy A Coffee Maker
This is a fairly simple budgeting tip for college students that seems small, but like the gym membership, seriously builds up over time.
Instead of springing for that expensive 5 dollar coffee at Starbucks every morning that you need a caffeine fix, make your own.
It’s a lot cheaper in the long run to buy a coffee pot, coffee, cream, sugar, and filters.
8. Be Careful With Credit Cards
Credit card companies go after college students like a ravenous man-eating monster.
You have to seriously watch out with these guys. A lot of naive freshmen can fall victim to credit card companies. This is mainly because, if you’re uninformed it sounds like free money.
If you want to get a credit card, sit down with your parents and shop around for ones that are credible.
9. Follow These Budgeting Tips For College Students
If you follow these 8 budgeting tips for college students, you will come out of college with a lot less debt gathered up. Only spend money on the essentials and live as cheaply but comfortably as you can.
Surviving your freshman year of college is difficult even without all the loans, and credit card sharks. We have a few tips to help you get through it.