If you have found yourself heading off to college and onto the next journey of your life, you aren’t alone! This is a big change that will affect you in so many different ways, but especially financially.
College may be the first time you learn how to manage your finances on your own, and it can be rather challenging if you do not have the right tools!
Determine All Sources of Income
In order to make an effective budget, you’ll need to have an estimate of what your income will look like throughout the month. If your parents are helping you, or if you are relying on employment, your budget will need to reflect that estimated amount. Getting a job on campus can be an effective way to utilize those extra hours during the weekend.
Some jobs you might want to consider include:
- Barista at the Campus Coffee Shop
- A Clerk at the Campus Bookstore
- Security for Campus Police
- Working in the Financial Aid Office
All of these can be effective ways to keep yourself afloat while you are at school!
Evaluate Your Monthly Expenses
After you have estimated the amount of money you have to spend per month, you’ll need to determine your expenses throughout the month. If you are living on campus, you might have less expenses than someone who is living off campus. One of the most important expenses you’ll need to account for is food. Are you on a meal plan? Do you eat out or want extra spending money for food throughout the month?
These are questions to think about while you’re budgeting for expenses. You’ll also need to budget for expenses such as textbooks, car payments, or a title loan if you needed extra cash. You might also find you need cleaning supplies and other household items you might not have needed to buy before.
Make a Realistic Budget
College is a time to start enjoying newfound freedom by beginning a new chapter in your life. You don’t want a strict budget that leaves you without any spending money for fun activities. Leave yourself a realistic spending amount for entertainment throughout the month, but make sure it is reasonable. Your entertainment budget should not exceed your necessities!
Think about what you what to prioritize for entertainment. If you want a spring break vacation, or if you have a formal event coming up for your sorority, make sure you leave an adequate amount of funds to use!
Track Your Spending
It can be all well and good to make a budget but sticking to one is where things can get tricky! The biggest hurdle that most new college students face is staying on top of their budget and tracking expenses. One of the easiest ways to do this is to keep a budget with you! Whether it is a physical budget you keep in your planner, or an app on your phone, keeping a budget with you is a sure way to keep yourself financially on track this school year.
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Image source: 401(k) 2012, via Flickr.