Best Budgeting Tips as a College Student
- If you have decided to attend college, you will likely have to make significant financial choices before you graduate.
- For those attending college, money can sometimes be tight, and it is essential to find money management techniques that help maximize the amount of money saved.
- Besides looking at money-saving techniques while in college, it is also important to discuss the financial implications of living on campus vs. at home.
If you have decided to attend college, you will likely have to make many significant life choices before graduation. Some of these choices include figuring out your living arrangements, funding your education, and balancing your social life, while staying on top of the various other responsibilities that come with attending college.
Some college students believe living on the college campus is necessary to fully grasp the college experience. However, money will most likely be tight regardless of the living accommodation chosen when attending college. Thus, to improve your financial situation while at college, below are some money management techniques that can help you save money and improve your financial situation.
Budgeting While in College - Money Techniques
1. Make a List of Your Monthly Fixed Expenses and Cut Back if Necessary
Fixed expenses can include your phone bill, car insurance, bus or train passes, or paying for gas. Tracking these expenses is important to see if your current income can cover your costs. In addition, by monitoring where you are spending money, you get a better idea of where the majority of your expenses come from and can take steps to improve your finances further.
Furthermore, if you’re on a tight budget, eliminating unnecessary expenses like eating out every weekend or streaming services like Netflix will help you keep even more of your money each month.
2. Create An Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is an amount of money saved in case of an unexpected financial situation. The amount in the emergency fund should cover 3-6 months' worth of expenses. For example, if your monthly expenses are $100, your emergency fund should have $300-$600. An emergency fund is crucial because it will help cover expenses during financial hardships, reducing stress.
3. Search Stores that Offer Student Discounts
Many students struggle financially from funding their education through their part-time job and financial aid. Therefore, to save as much money as possible, research which companies offer student discounts, allowing you to save more money and use it elsewhere. For example, Spotify offers a student discount on their monthly premium service, allowing them to receive the same service at 50% of the retail price.
4. Purchase Used Books or Find PDFs Online
To save more money, it is ideal for some programs to find an older version of the book being used or find the newest version online. This technique can be done by searching the name of your textbook in Google and adding ‘free pdf’ at the end. Throughout your post-secondary education, you can potentially save thousands of dollars as many academic textbooks are costly.
5. Use Budgeting Apps to Track Your Spending
When creating a budget, no matter how detailed a person is with tracking their transactions, there will always be some transactions that will be missed. However, by downloading free budgeting apps, you can create financial goals, and the app will help you stay on track.
Budgeting While in College Techniques - Living Accommodations
Now that money-saving techniques while in college have been covered, it is time to discuss the financial impacts of living on campus and at home; and how the choice of living accommodations can affect the student loan amount repaid to the federal government.
Living on Campus
There are several benefits to living on campus, including walking or driving a short distance to your classes, moving away from home and living independently, and easily accessing faculty, staff, and peers. However, according to a recent study, the average cost of living on campus for a 4-year term is $53,949 per academic year, totaling $215,796.
Although many people view living on a college campus as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it’s essential to consider the cost of living and if it is worth the accumulation of student loans (if you or your parents are using loans to pay for your college expenses). On average, it takes a person an average of 18.5 years to completely pay off their student loan debt.
Living at Home
Alternatively, many financial benefits come with living at home during your collegiate years, such as not having to sign up and pay for a meal plan for the school year. Though living at home and commuting every day seem less ideal, it is the most cost-efficient option. Living at home will save you thousands if you’re on a budget or don’t want to take on additional debt.
The Money Wrap-Up
At some point in a person’s life, significant financial decisions must be made; and when the time comes, being prepared is key. Although not everyone is destined to go down the same path, college attendees are given unique opportunities to face major financial decisions like paying back student loans or using their scholarships according to their needs.
The financial decisions you make while in college will carry into your future. So it’s important to make wise decisions now so your future self can succeed financially. By implementing the financial budgeting techniques mentioned above, you can improve your spending habits and enhance your chances of being financially stable and independent.