4 Budgeting Hacks for College Students

Aug 27, 2020 Paying For College

Learn how to get your spending under control with one simple tool – a budget.

A young woman sitting at a table, she is holding a pencil and smiling.

Not many people take advantage of this one thing when trying to get their spending under control – budgeting! If you’re in college, it’s crucial that you understand how to do this. Knowing how much you earn and the things you have to pay for helps you establish habits and a stress-free relationship with money.

Even if the income you’re receiving isn’t in the form of a job (income from parents, financial aid, etc.), you can use these budgeting tips and techniques.

Create a Spreadsheet

The initial creation of a budgeting spreadsheet can be daunting, but sometimes you have to be uncomfortable to grow. It’ll be the most visual view of your spending habits, what you have to pay, and where the leftover money is going.

There are a multitude of templates that can make this process easier; once the outline is created, everything else falls into place.

If a spreadsheet isn’t your style, there are many apps that allow you to do the same thing with your accounts. Just don’t forget to add your spending cash to your app calculations.

Use Cash For Fun Expenses

Enabling yourself to budget for fun activities is important in college, but when you use your card, it’s easy to just swipe and not pay attention to how much you’re really spending.

Having a set amount of cash in your wallet is a tangible way for you to know that you have X amount of money, and that’s it. It might even motivate you to spend less of the cash, causing you to save more than you’re spending.

Don’t Use Credit Cards

To piggyback on the concept of using cash instead of a card, a credit card is often seen as “free money” because it accrues and doesn’t leave your account all at once. For college students who often don’t have a steady income, using a credit card will rack up debt instead of helping you.

If you’re already taking out student loans, more debt will not be in your favor and will take a toll on your budgeting progress.

Cook Your Own Food

Smart grocery shopping habits can be created early on and there’s no better time than in college. While this may seem like an odd tip to help college students, it’s actually one that will save you a lot of money. On-the-go students spend so much money on quick snacks or drinks, and these costs add up pretty quickly.

Make your own meals and bring your own snacks so you can save on food expenses and have more in your budget for times you want to eat out with friends.

In college, it’s important that good money habits start early. While there are misconceptions that college isn’t a good time to save because of financial aid and money from parents, using up these resources is going to contribute to financial stress when it’s time to go out into the ‘real world.’ Budget now and thank yourself later.

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